Photographs by Justin Tsucalas
Scott and Jen Michalski, 41
Author and Dept. of the Environment employee
Being a twin means having a relationship that’s challenging to explain but effortless for both of us. We don’t need to use a lot of words to communicate with each other—imagine the world’s most comfortable silence. We’re closer than siblings, but we’re not married. When we’re out together, people assume we are boyfriend and girlfriend. We knew each other for nine months before we met another human being—even our mother. Although we are not physically connected, like Siamese twins, for better or for worse, our souls are completely inseparable.
Katherine and Lauren Albert, 10
We love, in no particular order: muscle cars, Michael Phelps (we’re swimmers, you know?), Harry Potter, collecting funny pictures of cats (including our own, Cheddar and Colby), drawing and coming up with clever ad campaigns, performing in our school band (we play clarinet and baritone horn), going antiquing with our Dad, seeing movies with our Mom, wild animals (Lauren adores lions; Katherine is currently sweet on snow leopards, but give her a week!), listening to our fave pop stars like Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and OneRepublic—and being the same yet totally different. We do NOT like: Justin Bieber. “What an idiot.” (Yes, said in unison.)
Judith Hyland and June Dunton, 87
Great-grandmothers of 16
We are mirror twins and we’ve had a mirror life. We dated best friends in high school and waited until they both got home from World War II in 1946 to have a double wedding. Our father walked us down the aisle at the same time. We even went on our honeymoon together—wore matching gray suits with red accessories. June checked into the hotel first—and the concierge was quite surprised when a woman who looked just like her showed up with a totally different husband a few hours later. He said, “Wow, you’re fast!” These days, the fastest thing about us is June’s driving. So Judith prefers to take the wheel.
Cole and Karsen Smith, 6
We’re in different classes this year—and it’s the first time we’ve been apart during the day. We started a little tradition and didn’t realize anyone else noticed, but here’s what one of our teachers told our Mom: “Every single day, Cole sits on a bench on the playground and waits for Karsen to come out at recess. She walks by, gives him a high-five and then they separate to go play with their friends.” When the STYLE lady asked us why we do it, Karsen simply explained, “It’s our thing.” (“Plus, I miss her a little bit during the day,” admitted Cole, wrapping his arm around his sister.)
Angelo and Mateo Belen, 13 months
Future male supermodels
When we were babies (you know, like six months ago) our Mom used to carry us up and down the steps in a laundry basket. Apparently, we were super wiggly. She says if any marriage can survive “cry it out” with twins, the couple is set for life. For about a month, our whole family slept in the living room together—Mom, Dad and Bruno (our dog) on the couch…and us, Angelo and Mateo, in our swings. The first time we slept through the night our parents celebrated by buying a new mattress. Now we’re the kings of our cribs and whisper secret sounds to each other by the morning light.
Linda and Amanda Nord (age withheld)
Model and musician
There’s a Senegalese proverb that says the dominant twin kicks the other twin out during birth. That was Amanda. She’s a whole 12 minutes younger, likes to take her time. For some reason, people assume firstborn Linda is the more outgoing one, but Amanda thinks of herself as the wild child. Of course, in many ways we’re a lot alike. Our friends call it “Nording out” when we goof around with our unique-to-us personality. Fifty years from now, we can see ourselves living together in a cabin in Colorado, needing no more entertainment than just reading the newspaper to one another.
Jonathan and David Murray, 51
Finance experts and media personalities
During our orientation at Dickinson College, a bunch of senior girls walked up and asked, “Are you Jonathan or the other one?” Having grown up sharing everything—one birthday cake, one birthday card, you get used to being perceived as one unit. There are pluses and minuses to that, but you get a best friend for life. As a kid, you never walk into a classroom or onto a ball field feeling alone or intimidated when your twin is with you. Same thing as adults at a work function or cocktail party. We often turn heads when we’re together. Being a twin is instant attention.
Illustration by Matthew Daley
A few years ago, after my husband-to-be and I discovered that his sperm had been damaged during radiation therapy treatments, we sat down to talk about using a sperm donor to get pregnant.
I wasn’t so interested—the idea seemed to me sad, clinical and financially forbidding—but Michael disagreed. If his wounded sperm couldn’t create a kid, why not put our heads together and find the right guy to inseminate my eggs?
“The child will still be ours,” Michael said. “Maybe with your huge hair.”
“But he won’t have your face,” I thought, but didn’t say it out loud because I’d said it before. Eventually, I gave in.
Soon after we married, we’d sit down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and click through donor records (height, weight, ethnicity, education, hobby, astrological sign, medical history and more) and partial audio interviews made available for free through the Fairfax Cryobank website. In the beginning stages, listening to your typical young buck describe his No. 1 life goal as “competing to win, against myself” or “making other people smile,” we thought we might sooner gag on clichéd blather before we choked on buttered popcorn. But little by little, we warmed to the odd game—we stuck with it long enough to locate a few donors whose voices and photos (which we bought for a modest fee) appealed to us enough to order a vial or sometimes two (depending on current discount offers). The process felt a lot like dating a
third party. When two rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) didn’t work, we sought another stud, and then another, seeking better articulated answers to the life-purpose questions we were still puzzling.
As I worked up to trying IVF (in vitro fertilization), I learned that several of my single girlfriends were surfing donors and buying sperm from various banks around the country, trying their luck—and
pursuing possibly their last late-30s chance to carry their own biological babies—with strangers’ stuff. I learned that several longtime lesbian couples in my circle used donors years ago to build their beautiful families. Inspiring information. I wanted to know even more.
The happy fact that I’m now six months’ pregnant with fraternal twins—the product of my eggs plus the fast-swimming sperm of a surly and smart Fairfax donor originally from Georgia, the country, not the state, who opted against sharing his photos or making his identity available to potential offspring when they reach 18 (each donor’s choice)—has me redirecting many of my 40-ish friends still in search of Mr. Right to the sperm site.
If you’re short on sperm yet certain, like I was, that you want to attempt to have your own biological baby rather than first foster a child or adopt, you’re ready to begin shopping—right now. Shopping is a user-friendly process that does not demand financial commitment. Once you’ve chosen a bank that’s geographically convenient, you simply create a username and password and begin to check off boxes bearing those physical traits and lifestyle choices you prefer: For me, requirements were advanced education, dark hair or reddish brown hair to match my husband’s, and Euro roots like his. You might want to match your hubby’s photo to your donor’s face. (That costs extra.) You might want to locate a bodybuilding Korean male with wavy hair who’s not yet finished college but knows he wants to remain anonymous to future offspring as much as he wants to start his own business…or an Aries African scientist who has left his ID-search option open and whose donor page already boasts a customer-reported pregnancy.
Each vial I purchased for IUI cost me $750 on average; each vial I purchased for IVF cost about $500. Pricing may be a little higher or lower depending on education level and other factors. (Unfortunately, most insurance plans do not cover donor sperm or related procedures.)
If you choose, you can obsess over each donor’s family health history. I was at first put off by the idea that one attractive guy’s two grandparents had suffered heart failure, but the more I shopped, the more I gathered that no donor is invited to fill a cup without first proving a mostly robust three-generation-long line. (If he has children of his own, he must file four generations of medical information.)
Michelle Ottey, Ph.D, Fairfax Cryo lab director and manager, confirmed my take.
“If there are things that would rule them out, they’re rejected,” Ottey said. “If the donor’s mother had breast cancer at 40, and her sister had ovarian…and their mother had breast cancer, they’re out.”
How does Ottey verify the applicant’s answers are accurate?
“They fill out the application and have to verify it many times,” she said. “We don’t put a donor on the site till month seven.”
By month seven, at Fairfax, the successful donor has been formally interviewed by a bank staffer, and then tested for various infectious diseases, including HIV and even HPV—only Fairfax checks this one—as well as other genetic diseases. Per FDA regulation, his sperm sample has been held in quarantine for 180 days, at which time the donor must pass a second blood-draw to be certain he’s still disease free.
The bottom line is: The sperm is expensive because these donors are carefully screened and each one is successful in his own way, in terms of sperm motility and count, in terms of genetic history, even in terms of social interaction.
“There is a huge perception that a donor can walk off the street,” another Fairfax rep (who asked to remain anonymous) explained. “It’s harder to get into than Harvard.”
Who Donates? Why? (And Does He Have 3,000 Kids?)
About 60 percent of all donors are college grads age 21 to 29—they are typically in grad school or beginning their careers, according to Ottey’s recent donor survey. All Fairfax donors are required to be enrolled in or have completed college.
(That doesn’t mean everyone is an A student or an SAT stunner; staffers consider “the big picture.”) About 20 percent range in age from 18 to 20. The remaining donors are 30 to 39. (The FDA requires an age range of 18 to 39 for active donors.) Most donors stay with the program approximately 12 to 18 months. The bank encourages each to build enough stock to provide future sibling donations.
Ottey’s survey revealed that most donors are motivated by financial compensation, which seems like a no-brainer; more surprising to me is the news that an equal number of donors reported a motivation “to help families” have kids.
According to “Brad” an anonymous donor with whom I spoke, a donating dude’s payment varies based on whether he provides a sample once or twice weekly.
“Roughly, the best case is upward of $100 to $125 per week if you go twice,” Brad said. “So you can earn upward of $500 a month.”
For Brad, who is in his mid-to-late 30s, money isn’t the motivation.
“My wife was in an accident when she was younger,” Brad said. “We don’t have kids and just attempted our eighth IVF. She doesn’t want my awesome genes to go to waste! If I can help another couple or individual, it makes me feel good.”
Though Brad has always maintained a regular workout schedule and refrained from drinking much and smoking—donor requirements—his sacrifice seems to me more intense than it might be for the average donor, since he and his wife have to reserve some of his donation days for their own fertility schedule.
To make matters more challenging, “I am required to have a 72-hour abstinence before I donate,” Brad told me. “So if my wife says, you’re not going to donate this week, I need some loving, I don’t donate.”
As I listened to Brad, I kept wondering how many kids he might have out there in the world. I know that the Fairfax Cryobank limits pregnancy numbers by inviting customers to report their success stories via the site. But based on last year’s Vince Vaughn movie “Delivery Man,” my mind pictured an army of Brad.
“Once we have 25 reported, except for siblings,we stop distributing the donor,” Ottey told me.
“Oops, I never reported my pregnancy,” I admitted, figuring a decent number of other donor-pregnant women might likewise forget or not think to report.
“Well, please do!” Ottey urged me. “Our newsletter reminds people to report.”
(Because I’ve been busy, I still haven’t reported the news, nor have I ever requested the bank’s email newsletter. I get so much spam.)
To ID or Not to ID
While there is no strict donor psychological evaluation process, each applicant discusses with a clinic supervisor whether or not he will remain anonymous to his future children.
“We make sure these donors recognize that children will result from this transaction,” Ottey said. “We have no donors whose sperm hasn’t yielded children, except the most newly recruited.”
The section of Ottey’s donor survey I find most intriguing concerns the anonymity question.
“Eight percent of respondents said they changed their mind to ‘anonymous’ after the educational screening period early on,” Ottey said, “but 30 percent of surveyed donors said they first thought they were originally going to remain anonymous but decided, after learning more, to be open ID.”
At this time in the U.S., it is a donor’s right to remain anonymous, though this law could change at a later date.
“We realize that we don’t have control over the laws, and they may change,” said Dr. Stephanie Beall, a physician at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Towson (and the same amazing woman who got me pregnant via IVF with my Georgian donor sperm last October). “That is a scary possibility—anonymity may not be upheld.”
Ottey disagreed with Beall’s “scary” prognosis, but acknowledges the potential for legislative turnaround.
“We don’t feel like it’s looming; we do grant that it may happen,” Ottey said. “There are some very vocal proponents of ID-only in the U.S. When you look at the international picture, it’s very different from country to country. Usually, even when the law requires ID availability, it doesn’t happen retroactively.”
The New Normal
For Brad and his wife, the decision to opt for ID-open was easy.
“I almost can’t wait to find out,” Brad said. “I want to know how many people I’ve helped, how many children are out there growing and experiencing life.”
Would Brad consider having a close relationship with one of his kids once they pass 18?
“It would depend on the child,” he said. “If the child was interested in having an uncle, I’d be interested. An uncle or a good friend or confidant would be appropriate.”
Donor “Twitch” (not his real name) imagines a vastly different scenario for his biological child, a baby daughter he conceived through scheduled intercourse with the wife of one of his best friends from Marine days who suffers infertility after testicular cancer. He’s currently en route to the couple’s home city to establish residence and become a bigger part of his daughter’s life, from several blocks away.
“We might say to her that she was loved so much we decided to birth her in this huge circle of family,” Twitch said. “She’ll know I was the biological father from the get-go. Sam [not his real name] is the
father. I’m going to be very special ‘Uncle Twitch.’”
Baltimore residents Lisa Stambolis, pediatric and adolescent clinical director at Healthcare for the Homeless, and her life partner Lania D’Agostino, a painter and sculptor, opted for an anonymous sperm donor from Fairfax Cryobank back in 1994 to conceive their daughter, Anais D’Agostino, now a 19-year-old college sophomore. Stambolis has a son, Michael, 31, from a previous relationship. They have a different take on sharing the ID.
“Why does it matter who the father is?” asked Stambolis, who carried their daughter at age 33 after D’Agostino, then 38, spent seven years trying unsuccessfully to be inseminated. “There have been times when our daughter wanted to know. But at the end of the day, it’s Lania and I who are her parents…who love her. We created a world.”
As my husband, Michael, and I anticipate the arrival of our twins, we discuss various approaches to sharing their story with them. (It’s our plan to do so fairly early on.) A small array of instructional children’s books abounds these days—“Before You Were Born: Our Wish for a Baby” by Janice Grimes, R.N., “Hope and Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Sperm Donation” by Irene Celcer—but I like to think we’ll know what to say on our own when the time feels right. I like to think of Twitch telling his daughter his truth that love brought her to life. I like to imagine Michael finding his own unique words to convey: “I’m your father in the everyday, forever way that matters most.”
What’s more beautiful than a single orchid? Thousands of orchids. And what’s better than being in NYC? Being in NYC and Key West at the same time. You can have it all at The Orchid Show: Key West Contemporary at the New York Botanical Garden’s 12th annual show—this year, inspired by a modernist Key West estate garden originally designed by award-winning landscape architect Raymond Jungles. Take a walk through the conservatory’s glasshouse gallery and see for yourself why the orchid is widely recognized as the world’s most coveted of ornamental plants. In conjunction with the exhibit, enjoy a Key West poetry reading, orchid care demonstration, Jimmy Buffett-style concert or a magical ‘Orchid Evening’ cocktail party. http://www.nybg.org
If you are among the fortunate foodies who had the pleasure of dining at Le Bec Fin before it closed in June, you may be squeamish when it comes to trying out Avance, a new progressive American restaurant that recently opened on the hallowed ground that was once home to Philadelphia’s finest French restaurant. But don’t be. Avance has already garnered outstanding reviews from people who were just as squeamish as you were. Start with the cauliflower chawanmushi appetizer; then move on to the dry aged duck and try the coffee mousse for dessert. Or better yet, order from chef Justin Bogle’s tasting menu. And if a terrific meal isn’t enough to justify the drive to Philly, sightseeing in historic Rittenhouse Square should help you build up a great big appetite. http://www.avancerestaurant.com
According to Webster’s, the definition of cool is “fashionably attractive or impressive.” But a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery aims to dig deeper. Curated by Frank Goodyear III and Joel Dinerstein, American Cool comprises photographic portraits of 100 of the ‘coolest’ individuals in modern memory. We’re talking Marlon Brando and Madonna, James Dean and Jay-Z—even entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, activists like Angela Davis and jazz saxophonist Lester Young, who introduced America to the concept of “being cool” in the 1940s. Photographers Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon are among the iconic artists whose work is featured in the show. Through Sept. 7. http://www.npg.si.edu
When Tony Foreman talks about restaurants, he talks about the movies. He imagines the dining room as set and diners as cast in the film he most wants to see. And designer Rita St. Clair listens. The latest Foreman-Wolf restaurant, Petit Louis in Columbia, says Foreman (whose business partner is chef Cindy Wolf), “is a Belle Époque, turn-of-the-century silent movie.”
“Not too silent,” interjects St. Clair. This is, after all, a restaurant. St. Clair and her associate, Brian Thim, reached back to what St. Clair calls “perhaps the most wonderful time in Europe,” a time without wars, when for the middle class and the nobility “life was a party.”
With 150 seats, a convivial bar area and an adjacent coffee, pastry and sandwich shop, Petit Louis on Lake Kittamaqundi is substantially larger than its St. Clair/Thim-designed 115-seat namesake, which opened in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood in 2000. But it shares much of the same design vocabulary, from the Parisian style globe lamps to cozy vinyl-upholstered booths. Even so, the Columbia space is “a bit more gilded” than Roland Park, says St. Clair. “More brasserie than bistro,” Foreman adds—meaning, presumably, that it’s a bit fancier.
Indeed, there’s an elegant private dining room with a recessed tray ceiling lined in faux tin and lit by bowl-shaped chandeliers. Muralist Kelly Walker painted the walls and a sliding pocket door that divides the room in muted golds and greens depicting a fanciful view of Versailles—inspired by photographs Wolf brought back from a visit there. Foreman points to a monkey perched in a tree clutching a bouquet of delphiniums, a detail that Walker added in honor of his daughter, Delphinium, born in November.
The restaurant and the sunny “comptoir” are in a space once occupied by a Chinese restaurant. When the team began working, says Foreman, it was a dark warren of walls, with dropped acoustic tile ceilings and an enormous tropical fish tank as a centerpiece. “Terrifying” from a design perspective,
Now there are distinct seating areas, including banquettes along mirrored walls, tables near a fireplace—its surround sourced from a New England salvage outlet—and a massive marble-topped bar illuminated by art nouveau- style fixtures. St. Clair bought plaster cherubs in Italy and had them fashioned into lights for above the bar; a graceful period lamp depicts a woman in a flowing dress, with sprays of flower blossoms. The kitchen is large enough for a separate baking area, where Ashley Roop, the former executive pastry chef at Charleston, cranks out desserts and pastries for all the Foreman-Wolf operations.
The mahogany woodwork throughout the restaurant begins with the exterior. The design team replaced the plate glass storefront with paned windows in keeping with the period, and paneled the outside walls. In warm weather, seating (on Parisian-style faux wicker bistro chairs) will extend outdoors.
With a menu and wine list nearly identical to the Roland Park original, Petit Louis is part of a larger redevelopment of the Columbia lakefront, and sits on a plaza that reaches to the water. Across the way is a circa-1970s modernist stucco and glass building designed by Frank Gehry. Not exactly part of a Belle Époque screenplay, but as St. Clair says cheekily “it could be worse.”
Petit Louis bistro
10215 Wincopin Circle, Columbia.
Designers: Rita St. Clair and Brian Thim, Rita St. Clair Associates
Executive chef: James Lewandowski
Pastry chef: Ashley Roop
Photographs by Justin Tsucalas
Maybe you’ve seen that coo-inducing video going around Facebook of the newborn French twins who are locked in an embrace as they float in a bathtub, in mutual denial that they’ve been sprung from the womb where they cuddled similarly nine months long. We’ll wait for you to watch it one more time. ...
The intimate bond between twins has long piqued the curiosity of singletons the world over. In Western culture, which puts such enormous emphasis on individuality and selfhood, twins who look either identical or strikingly similar, and who perhaps behave in copycat ways, as many twins do—displaying like-minded views or shared talents or even patterns of speaking—turn heads. Now and then they may raise eyebrows (how old is too old for lookalike clothing?).
Were you ever envious of certain twins’ ability to know what the other’s thinking, not necessarily in a truly psychic sense, but due to sheer closeness and heightened communication? Remember those twins in middle school who’d trade classrooms—and trade their very identities—for an entire school day without getting caught? These clever girls or boys might have struck you as best friends, or they might have struck you as magical halves of the same mysterious whole. (They struck this writer as sooo lucky.)
Some twins remain unusually close their entire lives. Take the identical Singh twins, Amrit and Rabindra, a pair of British Indian sisters born in 1966 who today make paintings together, often at the same time, employing different technical skills to one canvas, unified by an entirely copacetic aesthetic. Their work has been shown worldwide.
Maybe you’ve seen Linda and Terry Jamison—born in Pennsylvania in 1965 —identical sisters who call themselves the Psychic Twins. These brunette look-alikes are credited with putting their heads together and correctly predicting everything from terrorist threats to the untimely fatal plane crash of John Kennedy Jr. to the breakup of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. (It should be noted: They also in unison get certain predictions very wrong. And you’re right—maybe we could have predicted JLo’s break on our own.)
Even literature rejoices over an uncanny or eerie doubling; think back to Robert Louis Stevenson’s spine-tingling Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, maddening Tweedledee and Tweedledum from “Through the Looking-Glass,” the crime-solving Bobbsey Twins, or key supporting players in “Harry Potter,” Fred and George Weasley.
But if we’ve always been intrigued by the twinning phenomenon, in ages past described as an exciting “accident of nature,” we’re now much more universally aware of its traits and challenges. That’s because the rate of twin births has, well, doubled since 1980, when one in 60 births resulted in two babies—now, thanks to assisted reproductive technology, or ART, it’s one in 30, according to professor Nancy Segal, director of twin studies at California State University Fullerton.
Because so many twins are being born, certain U.S. colleges have begun offering generous tuition discounts to twin applicants. (Scholarships for multiples of three or more are also available around the country, in case that applies to your brood.) There are twin magazines, twin fan clubs—even a town called Twinsburg, Ohio, that hosts the world’s largest twin festival every summer.
Certainly, the occasional twins, both fraternal and identical, likely don’t relate any better than two estranged second cousins. Many adult twins make their homes far apart and, like lots of brothers and sisters, rarely chat. But the more familiar concept of twins who grow up happily together—finishing each other’s sentences and forming a friendship that endures beyond childhood—codes our culture.
Professor Segal attributes this harmonic cohabitation to more than just proximity and shared experience—in a BBC World Radio interview recorded last year, she theorizes that genes are the glue that
creates the seemingly surreal connection some of us single-born may secretly crave.
In fact, Segal cites a long-running University of Minnesota study, looking at twins born between 1982 and 1991 and separated at birth, in which numerous duos split and raised in different cultures, different countries even, prove to hold stunningly similar views on politics, to share mirror-image social behaviors and, in some cases, quite matching personalities or temperaments. Segal herself has been studying two female twins separated early and raised apart in North America and Europe. She describes the little girls’ reunion at an airport, when she was blown away by “how well they got along so quickly; looking at each other…then falling into an embrace.” Swoon.
We are without a doubt as twin-curious as you—that’s why we invited some of our favorite local pairs to appear in this issue and answer a few personal questions we’ve wanted to ask them only our entire lonely lives.
Ever since glamour store nonpareil Vasarri left Pikesville, some of us have been crying the blues. But we needn’t be. For right around the corner from Vasarri’s venerable location, Synchronicity has been supplying Baltimore’s grande dames and teenage girls alike with a huge selection of evening gowns, prom dresses and formal wear of all kinds. Whether you’re looking for stalwarts such as Jovani and Faviana or something a little more off the beaten path, Synchronicity’s 3,000-plus square feet of merchandise is likely to have it. Oh, and they carry tuxes, too. 25 Hooks Lane, Hooks Village, Pikesville, 410-486-8866
“So I went to a club the other day, which is timely because my self-esteem had been hovering right around ‘normal’ and I had been meaning to knock it down to negative 1,000.”
Bravado. Mike Birbiglia ain’t got it. Adorable, self-deprecating charm? That’s our boy. Fresh off the heels of his Sundance Audience Award-winning film “Sleepwalk with Me”—aka the first feature film co-written by Ira Glass and co-produced by “This American Life” (brilliant!)—the comedian/ author/filmmaker is returning to his stand-up roots with his “Thank God for Jokes” tour. (If it’s anywhere near as hilarious and endearing as “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” which was the No. 1 comedy special of 2013, Baltimore is certain to fall in love.) Join Birbiglia on April 4 at the Lyric as he recounts his recent visit to Cats-a-chusetts, argues with a stranger about her nut allergy, hosts an awards show for angry celebrities and learns that Fozzie Bear is a tough act to follow. We can’t wait to see the multi-talented funnyman and tell him how darling we think he is. Not that he’ll believe us. Tickets, $28- $38. 800-745-3000 http://www.ticketmaster.com
Red, White and Blue
The Baker Artist Awards present Front Room: Sterling Ruby, the provocative soft sculptures of Sterling Ruby, who crafts pillow-esque forms using red, white and blue fabric. Resembling vampire fangs and visual metaphors that may or may not be a critique of the state of American politics and culture, The New York Times has called Ruby “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century.” Through June 15 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Free admission. 443-573-1701, http://www.artbma.org
Love her or love to hate her, she’s just being Miley. From Hannah Montana, to “Party in the U.S.A.,” to “Wrecking Ball,” the world has seen Ms. Miley Cyrus evolve from Disney starlet to controversial pop star, and she’s had her fair share of criticism lately. But Cyrus doesn’t care; she’s just doing her own thing. You can watch her do it when the Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour comes to D.C. this month. You’ve been warned: be prepared for enthusiastic fans, an abundance of tongue wagging, dancing teddy bears and, of course, a whole lot of twerking. And who knows? A giant crying Tumblr cat might make an appearance as well. April 10, at the Verizon Center. Tickets, $65-$108. 800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Joys And Oys
You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy listening while MOBs (members of the tribe) tell stories about modern Jewish life. Whatever your persuasion, you’ll likely relate to their tales in one way or another. So, schlep out to Bolton Street Synagogue on April 5 for the Stoop Storytelling Series’ presentation of It’s Complicated: The Joys & Oys of Contemporary Jewish Life. Apart from stories by WBAL anchor Deboreh Weiner, author and UB professor Marion Winik, and Temple Oheb Shalom Senior Rabbi Steven Fink, the event will also feature a silent auction, raffle, and festive food and drink with proceeds benefiting educational programs at the synagogue. Tickets, $50. 888-810-2063, http://www.stoopstorytelling.com
Lost In Translation
Things aren’t looking too peachy for Mr. Gross, a company president who receives a memorandum in a mysterious language he doesn’t understand. If he can’t decipher the memo, he’ll lose his job and his wits. This is the setup for Vaclav Havel’s play, The Memo, a comedic and satirical look at bureaucracy and nonsensical office antics in a socialist 20th-century Czechoslovakia. Translated from Czech by Paul Wilson, the setup could easily take place in contemporary America. April 2-27 at the Single Carrot Theatre. Tickets, $10-$25. 443-844-9253, http://www.singlecarrot.com
Care for a little banjo? The 2014 Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival is coming to Druid Hill Park—and is bringing some big-name artists with it. Rain or shine, fans can enjoy daylong music from 13-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas (member of Alison Krauss and Union Station), Noam Pikelny & Friends, Sierra Hull, Mad-Sweet Pangs, Trace Friends Mucho, a local contest winner and more. But that’s not all. If you’re up for it, be sure to check out the official late night show after the festival, which will feature a “get on your feet” improvisational bluegrass blowout featuring The Everyone Orchestra. April 26, noon (11 p.m. late night party) at Druid Hill Park. Tickets $57-$150. http://www.charmcitybluegrass.com
Dysfunctional Family Fare
You’ll think you’ve died and gone to Russia as award-winning playwright Christopher Durang channels Chekhov in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Vanya and his sister Sonia have lived a quiet, peaceful and unexciting life at the Bucks County, Pa., farmhouse where they were raised. Things change, though, when their landlord, who happens to be their movie star sister Masha, arrives at the house with her man candy, Spike, to stir up some trouble. Directed by Eric Rosen and presented and co-
produced with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, this popular comedy promises loads of laughs. April 16-May 25 at Centerstage. Tickets, $10-$59. 410-332-0033, http://www.centerstage.org
A Ghostly Romance
Fans of the Oscar-winning film “Ghost” can relive their eerie memories—and we’re not just talking about the pottery scene—at a performance of Ghost The Musical, a new Broadway show adapted from the film’s screenplay. The musical is filled with cool special effects and an original pop score from Grammy winners Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. For those who need a refresher, the story follows young and in love couple Sam and Molly, whose relationship ends abruptly when Sam is murdered. That isn’t the end though, as Sam, trapped between the worlds of life and death, turns to a psychic to help him communicate with Molly and avenge his death. April 8-April 13 at the Hippodrome Theatre. Tickets, $38-108. 800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Cruising for a Brewsing
So many beers, so little time (to drink them). Budweiser, Coors, Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, Guinness. In between chugs, have you ever wondered about the history of your favorite beverage? Brew School with Nick “the Baltimore Beertrekker” Thomas will teach you all you need to know in a hurry. You’ll learn the background of brewing, ale geography, beer politics, marketing, legends and more. Oh, and there will obviously be beer tasting accompanied with cheese. Because, duh. April 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson. Tickets, $40, $35 for members. http://www.creativealliance.org
In 1930s Hollywood, Vera Stark is an African-American maid to a white movie star. But strong-willed, ambitious Vera has acting chops, too and things get mighty complicated when she and her boss are cast in the same film. Meanwhile, another controversy is unfolding behind the camera. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark delves into the public’s obsession with tabloids and celebrity gossip, while exposing the significant obstacles faced by black actors in
Hollywood during the early 20th century. April 16-May 11 at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $32-$60. 410-752-2208, http://www.everymantheatre.org
The Jets and The Sharks are still at it—and, so crazy, they look as young and snappy as they did back in 1975 when West Side Story first debuted on Broadway. The “Romeo and Juliet” inspired musical with music and lyrics by legends Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim returns to the Hippodrome with such classics as “America,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Somewhere” and “Something’s Coming.” They’ll be sure to do those hits proud, as the new cast album won the 2010 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. April 26-April 27 at the Hippodrome Theatre. Tickets, $43-$102. 800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
In the Mood
Need an aphrodisiac? Skip the champagne and oysters and
take your lover to The Lyric for Toujours L’Amour, a one-night celebration of the French grand opera. The Baltimore Concert Artists Orchestra under the direction of Edward Polochick will accompany vocalists Nicole Cabell and Stephen Costello performing oh-so-romantic operatic works from Romeo and Juliet, Faust, Manon and Thais. April 25. Tickets, $32-$96. 410-900-1150, http://www.lyricoperahouse.com
Zoinks! A mischievous ghost is on the loose and Scooby and the gang are determined to solve the mystery. Can they crack the case? See for yourself when Scooby- Doo! Live Musical Mysteries brings the classic animated mystery series—not to mention that infamous van and Velma’s hairdo—to real life at The Lyric on April 12. Tickets, $37-$74. 800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Dog lovers are in for a (Scooby) treat! For four days, kennel clubs from across Maryland, Virginia and D.C. will come together for the Dog Show presented by Cherry Blossom Cluster (Baltimore County Kennel Club, Old Dominion Club and Catoctin Kennel Club). From specialty shows focusing on single breeds such as golden retrievers and Chihuahuas, to all breed cluster shows, dog people will delight in sharing this experience with their favorite furry friends. April 18-April 21 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. 410-252-7555, http://www.cherryblossomcluster.com
Even preschoolers know that Itzhak Perlman is one of the greatest violinists of our time. Whether he’s soloing with an orchestra, performing before Queen Elizabeth or a U.S. president or even guest-starring on “Sesame Street,” Perlman’s talent is undisputed. Expect nothing less when Perlman returns to Baltimore for two performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this month. Perlman will perform Beethoven’s Violin Romances with the BSO, and will demonstrate his conducting prowess when he leads the orchestra in Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique.” April 12 and 13, at The Meyerhoff. Tickets, $46-$110. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org
Music To Your Ears
It has to be kind of awesome to be a successful violinist with a name like Violaine Melancon. Since 1990, The Peabody Trio—including Melancon, along with cellist Natasha Brofsky and pianist Seth Knopp—have been known for their interpretations of chamber music classics, championing of new music and mentoring of young musicians. You can see them perform live as part of Johns Hopkins University’s Sylvia Adalman Chamber Series. April 8, at Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall. Tickets, $5-$15. 410-234-4800, http://www.events.jhu.edu
Oh, your father also buttled?
“Oh yes, sir. Even my father’s father was a gentleman’s gentleman.”
Those lines are from a November 2000 episode of the TV sitcom “Frasier,” where the ever-aspiring lead character fulfills a lifelong fantasy and hires a butler. That situation, like similar ones in “Upstairs Downstairs” or “Downton Abbey,” is about as close as most Americans will ever get to the idea of a butler. Being “in service” is a concept that went the way of the dodo.
Or did it?
Not according to Andrew Lowrey. The tall, dark-haired man with perfect posture, impeccable manners and a native British accent is a professional butler and Baltimore’s very own staffer to the stars. Lowrey runs Precise Home Management, an agency that trains, vets and supplies domestic staff for households around the country. That means butlers, estate managers, housekeepers, chefs, personal assistants, you name it. If you have the money, you can have a little piece of “Masterpiece Theater” all your own.
Growing up in Cambridge, England, Lowrey says he always knew he was meant for “a life of service.” He has the kind of eye for detail you might attribute to an interior designer and a facility for order and organization akin to that of an engineer—attributes that propelled him from waiting tables in restaurants to serving tea in Buckingham Palace to presenting formal dinners at a 90-foot table aboard a Saudi yacht.
“They had Lalique crystal and Christofle silver,” he recalls of the Saudi royals. “The silverware had tiny little sapphires embedded in the handles. The tablecloth was linen with sheaves of corn embroidered in gold thread. It must’ve cost $20,000.”
Lowrey came to Baltimore in 1990 for a job: managing a 25,000-square-foot home for “a prominent Maryland family” (a butler-like discretion forbids naming names). He founded Precise Home Management eight years later. Housed in one of those grand Victorian mansions in the stately Belvidere Terrace block of North Calvert Street, the agency provides an ideal setting for training people in the arts of table etiquette, social manners, formality and hard-nosed business sense. It’s all well and good if you know a fish fork from a salad fork, but to be a good butler you also have to know how to get stains out of fabric, how to solicit bids from contractors for a landscaping project, how to troubleshoot a vast array of electronics and how to anticipate whether Monsieur would prefer Taittinger or Veuve Clicquot for this guest or that guest.
“We’re chameleons,” says Lowrey. “We adapt ourselves to our environments.”
He recalls one job in Florida where his employer kept a yacht that had to be winterized out of season. The boat, he says, was shrink-wrapped. But seagulls kept zooming in, breaking holes in the plastic. So Lowrey, in addition to his house duties, had to repair the holes with duct tape after every avian attack.
Ah, the glamorous life!
But a butler or housekeeper can make a good living, says Lowrey, anywhere from $65,000 to $250,000 a year, often with full health and retirement benefits. And the ranks are growing. The Domestic Estate Managers Association, a trade organization for domestic service employees, has more than 1,500 members in the U.S. and other countries.
But what about handling the quirks and foibles of the very rich, and, potentially, even mistreatment? Lowrey has a motto: “It’s not personal.” There’s a line, of course; certain things up with which he will not put. But in general, he says, he looks at the whole spectrum of duties as just doing one’s job, whether it’s walking the dog, packing a picnic lunch or setting and re-setting two different tables, over and over, depending on the whim of the employer.
That equanimity is an essential characteristic, one he can spot pretty quickly in a person interviewing for a job. He says he gets people from all walks of life, all ages, applying to be modern-day domestic servants. Some of them, he says, are looking for a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” experience. “They think they’re going to be jetting off to all kinds of exciting places,” he says. Those get winnowed out right away. Others are just looking for a stable job in a decent environment. All, he says, have to be good at “noticing things.”
“I’m like a dating agency,” says Lowrey. “I match people up.”
Precise Home Management
1007 N. Calvert St.
In June of last year, City Paper published its annual “Queer Issue,” in conjunction with the Baltimore Pride festivities. The first since the historic passage of Question 6, the issue’s cover featured two women kissing while holding celebratory sparklers, a nod to a mass same-sex wedding being held in Druid Hill Park that weekend.
My friend Evan’s then 6-year-old son Jack pointed to the picture and said, ‘What’s that?’
Evan says he “took a deep breath” and launched into an explanation. It was a picture of two women in love who were getting married, he began.
Jack interrupted. “No, Daddy. Not that, THAT,” he said.
He was asking about the sparklers.
It’s a scene familiar to many modern parents, who are raising kids completely nonplussed by nontraditional families. Unencumbered by prejudice or cultural expectations, our kids see families as just that: families, paying little attention to the particular constellation of genders therein.
A few years ago, my oldest son asked me if our beloved neighbors, two men with children, were married.
I answered that I honestly didn’t know if they were married, because in many states it wasn’t allowed. Ethan was absolutely scandalized.
“How could they not be married?” he asked, wide-eyed. “They do everything together!”
As the sister of two gay men, I’ve always had a vested interest in raising children who respect the fundamental equality of all people and who embrace all kinds of families. But as a card-carrying Generation Xer, I find the civil rights sea change currently unfolding in America—from the Supreme Court’s United States v. Windsor decision to the coming out of Missouri All-American football player Michael Sam—especially electrifying.
I was born in 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in American history. It was “The Year That Rocked The World,” as the title of one book puts it, the year of the riots at the Democratic National Convention and the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It was the year of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam and the heyday of the Black Panthers.
But by the time I was old enough to pay attention to the world around me, all that turmoil seemed a thing of the past, especially from my vantage point in a generic Long Island split-level with a station wagon parked in the driveway. There were no sit-ins or marches or riots on my agenda. It was the era of “Free to Be You and Me” and Title IX. Women entered the work force in record numbers. America certainly wasn’t perfect, by any stretch, but it felt as though the heyday of toppling discriminatory barriers was largely over, as was the exhilaration that came with it.
I was always curious what it might have felt like to witness a revolution firsthand, to have experienced groundbreaking social changes like those of the era I was born in. For many of my peers, the AIDS and apartheid activism of the ’80s was a first taste.
Now we do have that chance, one made all the more powerful by the fact that we are also witnessing it through our children’s eyes. The ironic thing is it’s almost too difficult for today’s kids to grasp the profundity of what’s happening. The legislative and social barriers being broken through by gay people seem as puzzling and backward to our kids as the antiquated and repulsive “Whites Only” drinking fountains seemed to us—something you might see in a history museum.
“That’s just like segregation,” my friend Krista’s 7-year-old daughter Soren marveled after they discussed why NFL prospect Michael Sam was making headlines.
The gay rights movement has provided an opportunity to teach our kids the power of social protest, sometimes with a wholly contemporary twist. In January, after “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson made racist and homophobic remarks, pop star Liam Payne of One Direction tweeted his support to Robertson’s son. Payne and his fans subsequently got into a Twitter war with a popular YouTube sensation named Tyler Oakley, who is gay. My friend Kirsten’s 11-year-old daughter Sarah, once an enthusiastic One Direction fan, was so upset she unfollowed everyone having to do with the band on Instagram and took down all of their posters from her room.
Similarly, when it came to light that Chick-fil-A—one of our kids’ favorite restaurants—had been donating money to virulently anti-gay causes, we told our boys we had no choice but to stop eating there.
And I know they got the message. Well, sort of. Because the morning after President Obama finally voiced support for marriage equality during an interview with ABC, I explained to my boys as we drove to school why this was such a big deal.
There was a moment of silence as Ethan pondered the news. Then he piped up from the back seat.
“Does this mean we can go back to Chick-fil-A now?” he asked eagerly.
It was an important reminder that in the end, kids are just kids and view the world the way kids do. But it makes me happy that it’s kids like Jack and Ethan and Soren and Sarah who will be the parents of tomorrow, the members of Congress of tomorrow, the business owners of tomorrow. I feel safe knowing that when it comes to this last ugly vestige of bigotry in our country, the future is in enlightened hands. 9
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared inThe New York Times, People, Slate and,USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
Being a woman of a certain age, Savvy remembers the days when people actually wrote letters to each other. Even, if you can believe it, thank-you notes. Though she, like everyone else, has largely gone over to email, she still enjoys putting pen to paper, especially if the paper is beautiful. Thank goodness, then, for Simply Noted in Ruxton. Not only will you find oodles of cards, notepaper and stationery, but also wrapping paper, candles, hostess gifts and dog treats. Yes, dog treats. Apparently Fido also knows a quality product when he sees one. Simply Noted also carries the work of local printmakers and letterpress designers such as Gilah and Maggie Stewart. 1515 LaBelle Ave., Ruxton, 443-275-7094
Photographs by David Stuck
Building a family is risky business, regardless of how it’s done. Adoptive parents navigate myths, wild rumors and horror stories. But for every learning curve, hoop to jump through and unfounded fear, there are more stories of joy and luck. In the end, adoption, like any family-building exercise, is a leap of faith, and there are several ways to do it.
“I don’t rule out anyone,” says Dean Kirschner Ph.D, the executive director of Adoption Makes Family, Inc., a nonprofit, private agency that does domestic adoptions. In this model, prospective parents work with a counselor to connect with women who are pregnant and plan to put their babies up for adoption. The adoptive parents create narratives about themselves—scrapbooks, letters, web pages—to help birth parents get to know them, and agencies like Kirschner’s screen in, not out. “I don’t look at your age, your marital status or your sexual orientation,” he says. “But the birth parents may.”
While it can be stressful to be at the whim of birth parents, there are advantages to domestic adoption: The process can be fast, the adoptive parents often bring home an infant and there’s an opportunity for the adoptive and birth parents to know each other and their histories, to whatever degree makes both parties comfortable.
Sandy Asirvatham, her husband Kevin and son Miles.
When Sandy Asirvatham and her husband, Kevin, decided to adopt, at age 35, they kept an open mind. Sandy, a writer and musician, explored the terrain and realized that a domestic adoption might suit them best. “I liked the idea of knowing a lot about my kid, both in terms of medical history and the child’s family narrative,” she says. “On a philosophical and political level, I liked that this would be a decision made by both parties.”
She and her husband worked with a private, nonprofit, secular agency in the D.C. metro area. Two years after launching the elaborate paperwork process, they met briefly with a birth mother who’d delivered a newborn currently under agency-sponsored foster care. He was only 4 weeks old when they brought him home. “With Miles,” she says, “the stars aligned, the birth parents were mature and wonderful and we had a very competent counselor.”
When Miles was 5, they tried again—but the second time was thornier. Their adoption counselor seemed less competent than the first; in hindsight, Sandy says, they probably should have asked to work with a different counselor. There were other hurdles: Birth parents seemed to prefer religious couples and childless couples. But they found a birth mother who liked them, and they brought home a baby girl soon after she was born. “Miles fell in love with his new sister,” says Sandy. Then, out of the blue, the birth father made a claim that was within his legal rights; the counselor had failed to provide complete and accurate information about him. “We did the DNA test, and she was taken away from us. We had her for five days. It was the worst thing we’ve gone through in our lives—and I put Miles through that, too.”
The No. 1 fear for people who want to adopt is that the baby will be taken away, says Kirschner, who has been working in the adoption world for 20 years. “There are no easy answers for this,” he says. “My advice is for people to work with a seasoned adoption counselor with a lot of compassion for both the birth parents and adoptive parents.”
“You open yourself up to risk, but it’s all risk,” says Sandy. “We’re now perfectly happy with the family we have.”
In many ways, international adoption offers the opposite experience: The birth parents are an unknown entity, and they have no say in who adopts their child. Sometimes, quite literally, the baby has been left on the doorstep of an orphanage.
The Richard family: Virginia, Madeleine, and Isabelle
“Closed adoptions can be really hard for kids and parents,” says Virginia Richard, a single mother and teacher who adopted two daughters from China. “But I was afraid that an open domestic adoption could result in the child being reclaimed by its birth family. I knew there was no way I could handle it, and with international adoption, you will end up with a child.”
With international adoptions, there are as many variables as there are nations. Countries that work within the Hague Adoption Convention, which protects children and their adoptive parents, tend to do a better job regulating fees and contracts and work harder to prevent trafficking than non-Convention countries. So, for example, Convention countries like China, Colombia, Peru and Vietnam have more stable fees, while in non-Convention countries like Ethiopia, Haiti and Russia, fees can vary wildly.
But any government can be fickle, and things happen. Fourteen years ago, when Virginia began the process with Great Wall China Adoption, the nation had no restrictions on single mothers. She brought home Madeleine in 2001, when she was 13 months old. By the time she brought home Isabelle in 2004, China had become less tolerant of single mothers. In the years since, China has closed itself off to singles, and then opened up again. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti derailed many adoptions from that country, and Russia recently enacted an anti-gay adoption ban. Virginia was delayed by more than a month meeting Madeleine because of 9/11.
The screening process for both domestic and international adoptions can be dizzying, with home studies, background checks and medical reviews. But the bureaucracy involved in international adoptions can become epic. With Madeleine, Virginia found herself on an 11th-hour paper chase that involved a $100 cab ride from Annapolis to Washington, hours spent going back and forth from the State Department to the Chinese consulate and a nap in a park in Georgetown while waiting for paperwork. She failed her first home inspection because of a radiator that didn’t have a cover. “I have so many smoke detectors now,” she says.
Despite the delays, Virginia is sanguine about it: “If I hadn’t been delayed, I wouldn’t have gotten Madeleine.”
Jillian and Rod Fry with their two boys.
Often, this is where the conversation about adoption ends. But there’s a third option: fostering to adopt. There may be no bigger leap of faith than the ones taken by people like Jillian and Roderick Fry, a public health researcher and chemist, who knew before they were married that they wanted to build a family this way.
Although this was not the motivation for the Frys, fostering can be a great option for people who don’t have the financial resources to pay tens of thousands of dollars in adoption agency fees. The Department of Social Services foots every bill and provides a monthly stipend, and the child is covered into adulthood by Medicaid.
Jillian and Rod enrolled in the foster-to-adopt program through DSS, and after training, home studies, medical review, and background checks, they were ready to foster. After several months they got a call in 2010 from DSS about a 15-month-old boy who needed short-term care for about three weeks. Although their goal was to foster long-term, they leapt.
“They called at 11 o’clock in the morning,” says Jillian, “and by 3 o’clock Joseph [name changed] was in our house.” They bought a pack-n-play that afternoon, and they’re co-workers pulled through with a bounty of baby supplies. “We went from zero to 100 in four hours,” he says. As the months passed, it became clear that this might be long-term, after all. “It changed quickly from babysitting for three weeks to ‘this is our son,’” says Jillian.
After a year, a judge granted Jillian and Rod a year of preliminary full custody and guardianship. Everyone present at court, including the birth parents and caseworker, agreed that the arrangement was working well. A year later, in 2012, the Frys went to court again and were granted permanent full custody and guardianship. Joseph’s birth parents have not had their parental rights terminated, which means that Jillian and Rod can’t legally adopt him—but everyone is comfortable with the situation. Joseph calls Jillian and Rod “Mom” and “Dad,” and his birth parents by their first names.
Once a month, the Frys take Joseph to a play area in a mall or park to visit with his birth parents. “We don’t have court-ordered visitation, but we do it for Joseph, because it’s good for everybody,” says Jillian.
“We tell Joseph, ‘They love you, but they couldn’t take care of you,’” says Jillian. “We’re your forever mommy and daddy.”
Of course, with fostering to adopt, there is the fear of losing the child to claims by the birth family, and Jillian and Rod have met people who lived through that ordeal. Before Joseph was even in their home, they decided to have a biological child—another boy, who is now 3.
“We got very lucky,” she says. Joseph, 5 years old, has been with them for four years. “It’s definitely risky. A child came into our lives, we fell in love, the situation has challenges and we could have easily had our hearts broken. But if people are prepared and go into it with their eyes open, it can be a beautiful thing.”
Adoption at a Glance
Costs Domestic and international adoption through an agency: $20,000-$45,000. Foster-to-adopt through DSS: $0
AGE Most agencies prefer that there are no more than 45 years separating parent and child. Some agencies require adoptive parents to be at least 30 years old.
single? Not religious? already have a child?Nonprofit, private agencies don’t discriminate, and neither do foster care services—but in the case of open domestic adoptions, birth parents may have preferences.
Gay? Nonprofit, private agencies don’t discriminate, but it’s trickier when fostering; laws vary from state to state. With international adoptions, some countries discriminate. Again, in the case of open domestic adoptions, birth parents get to decide.
Trying to get pregnant Some agencies discourage fertility treatments during the adoption process, others don’t.
Roadblocks or DealBreakers
Not having covers on your radiators
Not vaccinating your pets
Intercountry Adoption, U.S. Department of State | http://www.adoption.state.gov
Adoption Makes Family, Inc. | http://www.adoptionmakesfamily.org
Maryland Department of Social Services | http://www.dhr.maryland.gov
Heaven knows there are already plenty of boutiques for bright young things stocked with skimpy T-shirts and miniskirts and the remnants of grunge chic. So it was with special pleasure that Savvy walked into a sunny new space and was greeted with loads of feminine, grown-up clothes. It also has the cheeriest colors and cutest name you’ll find anywhere: Lime Blossom Boutique in Fells Point. Owner Shannon Burdick says she wanted to offer more than club wear or party dresses, while still appealing to women of all ages. Savvy flipped over the bright tribal print skirts by Flying Tomato for only $40 and the floaty beaded, embellished tops by Endless Rose. And one can never get enough of those handy, lightweight crocheted cardigans to throw over your shoulders in the frigid air conditioning of modern America. Add in Italian leather wedges, vegan bags by Melie Bianco and a smattering of affordable jewelry, and you can walk out with a whole new outfit and not go into debt. Now that’s savvy. 1716 Fleet St., Fells Point, 410-563-5060
What’s the chief difference between dogs and cats? Anyone who has ever known a cat knows the answer. Dogs are man’s best friend. But cats remain forever and always their own best friends. I did not need to spend $27.99 to learn this but we’ll come to that.
The cat has a long relationship with man. Domesticated to deal with pests like mice and rats, they were worshipped in ancient Egypt and persecuted in Europe in the Middle Ages. Some cultures believed cats to be emissaries from other worlds—or that they were in cahoots with Satan. Black cats, witches and all that. Winston Churchill loved his cat, Jock, referring to him as his special assistant. Lenin, Hemingway and Jack Kerouac loved cats.
Mark Twain adored cats, too, observing: “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” I feel the same way. The Humane Society of America says there are 95.6 million cats in this country. (More cats than dogs, by the way.) I know two of those cats—Luke and Hamlet.
I have a long relationship with these felines and I can tell you this with certainty: you don’t know them any better the longer you know them. They remain impenetrable, mysterious, Zen-like creatures.
John Bradshaw, author of “Cat Sense” (that’s where the $27.99 went), believes that cats regard their owners as extended members of a cat family. My cat, Luke, thinks I am a cat. A cat he knows and trusts. (A cat that knows how to open cans, too.) My neighbor’s cat, Hamlet, visits daily. He also thinks I am a cat. We have him on a modified American eating plan. He takes breakfast and dinner here. I do not know where he gets lunch. Bradshaw believes that my cat thinks that I am his mother. I don’t look anything like his mother but we’ll let that pass.
The subtitle of the book is what intrigued me. “How the new feline science can make you a better friend to your pet.” What more can I do? My cats (I have owned three in 34 years) live like kings, eat the most expensive cat food and have free rein. The first two, Grace and Diesel, lived to be 20. How could I be a better friend? Buy them cars?
Cats are said to be most adaptable. But I think cats are stubborn, sly and shrewd. In my experience, life is always on the cat’s terms.
Think about dog obedience schools, places where red-faced ladies with English accents in tweed suits bark (literally) orders at dogs. Dogs apparently don’t mind this. They are trainable. Man domesticated the dog, but Bradshaw says man has not completely domesticated the cat. Exactly! It’ll never happen. Can you imagine anything more preposterous than a cat obedience school? A cat-leash law? A cat whisperer? That would be a good way to get scratched.
Anyone who knows cats wonders about the things they do. Why do they knead before they settle down in your lap? Bradshaw thinks it might be a reflexive thing from kittens kneading their mother to stimulate her milk. What’s the deal with the cat walking around with its tail straight up in the air? Apparently, it means they are happy to see you. And all those noises they make? Well, they may be trying to communicate. But maybe not. We do know that every human language has a representation of the cat’s meow—a universal sound known around the globe—but we don’t know exactly what it means. Cats like it that way.
One time, I saw a little sign in a gift shop, an aroma-therapy parlor full of wind chimes where the smell of potpourri could kill an asthmatic. The sign was directed at cat owners. “A cat is not a little person in a fur coat.” Anyone who knows cats understands that’s wrong. A cat is a little person in a fur coat. That is precisely its appeal.
Cats are color-blind. Cats do not like change or car rides or cages. You might get the odd cat that enjoys a car ride, but that’s fairly rare. An old vet once told me that it takes two people to put his 9-pound cat in a carrying cage—and it takes three people to get that cat out.
Cats are finicky, suspicious and nocturnal. Very well rested. Hard not to admire a creature that can sleep 22 and a 1⁄2 hours a day. Cats appear to like it when people speak to them in a high-pitched voice. But we don’t know why. My theory is that cats like it when we make fools of ourselves.
Lunchtime can be mayhem at tiny Trinacria, the Italian deli and gourmet grocery on Paca Street. Customers crowd the deli case waving paper stubs with numbers, calling out orders for muffaletto and eggplant parm, while those here for a bottle of $3.99 wine or frozen lasagna have to elbow their way to the back. In part to ease this crush, owner Vince Fava, whose grandfather Vince emigrated from Italy in the early 20th century to start a spaghetti company, has opened a nearby café with his wife Dee, who did the design. The new place, Trinacria Café at the corner of Park and Centre serves all the prepared pastas, sandwiches and sides available at the shop, only you can sit down to eat. Plus, it offers salads, pizza and hand-cut fries. The eatery overlooks attractive apartment buildings, like the new 520 Park and Chesapeake Commons, and the Walters Art Museum is around the corner. Space seats about 75; in warm weather, Fava hopes to expand outdoors. Another future goal: groceries by delivery. 111 W. Centre St. 410-685-7285, http://www.trinacriabaltimore.com
Between the proliferation of online shops and their brick-and-mortar counterparts tucked away into tiny corners of the city, Savvy is getting dizzy with all the offerings. The latest Charm City shop to expand from the cyber powerhouse Etsy to a spot on the street is Bottle of Bread, part vintage clothing store, home furnishings shop, gallery and “dream zone.” Walking in here is like opening up a trunk of your grandmother’s lifelong collections. Sweaters, skirts, boots, scarves, doilies, jewelry, paintings, even X-rated salt and pepper shakers—if you can’t find something you like here, there’s no hope. 2007 Fleet St., Fells Point, 443-963-9388
Who doesn’t love two kinds of “buzz” in one? To imbibe while caffeinating has seemed like a privilege reserved for the Irish for generations. But with a coffee and cocktail culture growing in parallel strides in Baltimore, why not evolve our approach to the caffeinated cocktail along the way? This delicious mix will put a pep in your step while delighting your palate.
11⁄2 ounces Patron XO Cafe
1⁄2 ounce Cointreau
2 ounces cold brew iced coffee
Fine granulated raw sugar
Combine Patron XO Cafe, Cointreau and cold brew coffee together with a pinch of sugar in mixing shaker packed with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. Enhance with a touch of cream as desired.
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Tend for a Cause.
Brandon Rust is the first to acknowledge that his restaurant in the old Pikesville Cinema building needed some help. “The food sucked; I’m not afraid to admit it,” says the general manager, who decided to make some changes. Rust, whose family has owned the restaurant since 2006—redubbed it The Pikes Cinema Bar & Grill and refurbished the menu to coincide with the reopening of the art deco-style movie theater, shuttered since 1986 and recently revived by Ira Miller’s Horizon Cinemas, owner of both the Rotunda and Beltway movie houses. The menu is pleasantly eclectic: stuffed oysters packed with spinach, shrimp and cheese, pasta and burgers and many Mexican options. The retro décor—including a mash-up of almost-life-size statues of film characters from Laurel and Hardy to the Blues Brothers—gives the place a quirky air. Don’t forget the full bar with boozy shakes and classic cocktails. No, this isn’t fine dining, but locals seem delighted to have a place to nosh before or after a film. “At least 75 percent of the people who come in tell us about coming here when they were kids,” says Rust. 921 Reisterstown Rd., Pikesville. 410-653-5545
Emporiyum, a fancy food gathering planned for the Thames Street Wharf Building on April 26 to 27, isn’t limiting its reach to Baltimore’s makers. Taharka Brothers will rub elbows with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams from Columbus, Ohio; Mouth Party will serve chewy caramels alongside handcrafted gumdrops and lollipops from Portland, Ore.-based Quin Candy. Outside vendors—like Momofuku Milk Bar and Luke’s Lobster—are clamoring to be involved, says Mindy Schapiro, whose nascent event company And More, is behind the festivities. “They see Baltimore as an untapped market.”
Emporiyum was inspired by Smorgasburg in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood. Schapiro, who grew up in New York, frequently travels to the city for inspiration. Still, she believes the Baltimore food scene “is on the cusp of chic and hip,” and Emporiyum is “trying to mix in people from around the country who are doing the same things.”
Sue Jean-Chun, a New York-based publicist has enlisted her clients Bryan Voltaggio—of Volt and Family Meal in Frederick and Range in D.C.—and Eric Bruner-Yang, owner of D.C.’s Toki Underground, to distribute bites.
News of Voltaggio’s plans to open Aggio, an upscale Italian restaurant in Power Plant Live, came close on the heels of the Emporiyum buzz. Tickets, $15-$20. 1300 Thames St. http://www.theemporiyum.com
Photographed by Dean Alexander
PRINTS CHARMING Mixed print, poly/spandex dress, $270, by Clover Canyon, at Trillium, Green Spring Station. Runway cuff, $64, at Katwalk Boutique, Fells Point. Patent leather floral print shoulder bag, $249, and silk bedspread (backdrop) at Kashmir, The Shops at Kenilworth.
ROSES ARE RED Rose print T-shirt, $75, and full skirt, $248, both by Ted Baker; tall gladiator sandals, $398, by Stuart Weitzman: all at Nordstrom, Towson. Felt flower neckpiece, $18; Tagua nut elastic bracelets, $28 each; leather flower cuff, $24: all at A People United, Mount Vernon.
Floral print patent leather handbag, $249, at Kashmir, The Shops at Kenilworth. Vintage Rudi Gernreich silk print scarf on head, from Vogue Revisited, Roland Park. Embroidered cotton print bedspreads, at A
People United, Mount Vernon.
PLEATS, PLEASE Pleated-front dress, $400, by Shoshanna, at L’Apparenza, Lake Falls Village. Mid-rise skinny jeans, $245, by Hudson; statement necklace, $69, by Amrita Singh: both at South Moon Under, The Shops at Kenilworth and Harbor East. Elastic wood and beaded belt, $28, at Kashmir, The Shops at Kenilworth. Stone clay bangles, $48 each, at Katwalk Boutique, Fells Point.
ECLECTIC ACCENTS Silk print shirt dress, $32; antique silver beaded statement necklace, $144; antique multi-strand beaded necklace with semi-precious stones, $288; leather flower cuffs, $24 each, all at A People United, Mount Vernon. Accordion pleated maxi skirt, $50, by See You Monday, at Shoe City, Pikesville. Elastic jeweled rings, $36 each, at Katwalk Boutique, Fells Point. Elastic beaded belt, $36, at Kashmir, The Shops at Kenilworth. Metallic leather porcupine handbag, from ReDeux, Wyndhurst Station.
ZIGZAG Coral blouson top, $275, by Alice + Olivia; gold bangle cuff, $30; long hammered brass rings, by Citrine: all at L’Apparenza, Lake Falls Village. Washable, poly/spandex, zigzag print maxi skirt, $74; floral runway necklace, $250, by Amrita Singh: both at South Moon Under, The Shops at Kenilworth and Harbor East. Turquoise and coral embellished belt, $62; stack of print bangles; recycled sari wrapped as a turban: all at A People United, Mount Vernon. Rhinestone mesh toe ring flat sandals, $239, by Lola Cruz, at Matava Shoes, Green Spring Station and Belvedere Square. On couch: embroidered cotton, floral print bedspread, at Kashmir, The Shops at Kenilworth. In background: embroidered cotton, floral-print bedspread, at A People United.
GIRLY GIRL Custom-detailed cotton sweatshirt top with vintage lace, $228, by Simion Isrial, at Katwalk Boutique, Fells Point. Floral print elastic ankle pants, $24, and floral-print platform heels, $65, both at Shoe City, Pikesville. Gold bangle cuff, at L’Apparenza, Lake Falls Village. Metallic beaded headband, $30, by Deepa Gurnani, at South Moon Under, The Shops at Kenilworth and Harbor East.
Fashion Editor: Suzin Boddiford. Model: Willow Kim/CIMA Talent Management. Make-Up: Lauretta J. McCoy. Hair: Milroy Harried. Stylist Assistant: Tricia Munro.
Photo Assistant: Jon Michelle Moses.
Photograph by David Stuck
I knew when I left my low-paying university job for a no-paying volunteer position as an at-home dad that there would be hurdles. For one, I need permission from my wife to buy a pizza, as she will see it on the credit card statement the night of the purchase. Also, I can no longer feign a cough to go golfing on a sunny Thursday, as there are no sick days. (Note: my 15-month-old “boss” loves taking midday trips to the zoo, so there’s that.) Also, I have joined a workforce that is more than 96 percent female, which sounds awesome in one sort of female-power way, but is also like being the only guy at an Ani DiFranco concert.
There is an unfortunate gender bias in my field that I don’t necessarily disagree with. Plenty of mom groups in the area do not allow dads, and I understand that. Guys can be creepy and it’s better not to have to worry about them if you don’t have to. But by now, I thought I’d have met a nice mom, gotten in her good graces and infiltrated her private little group like an intuitive Jane Goodall. Of course, according to this random metaphor, I am the scientist and the at-home moms are the gorillas. (What would my little boss make of my analogy?) I grant you it’s possible I lack the charm and sensitivity necessary to pull off this ambitious assimilation.
At the heart of the issue is the fact that I would have to basically ask out a married woman. And though I’m married and have Mabel now, I still have a crippling fear of both rejection and women. And how would I even go about doing that? What does that next step even look like?
“Yeah, she’s really getting the hang of this walking thing! She loves the jogging stroller, too! … 15 months, and your son? Well, he’s not doing so bad either. Say, since we both have kids about the same age, how about I come over to your place and we get some Legos and wine and see what happens?”
Back in high school, I was complaining to a friend of mine that I couldn’t get a girlfriend. To this, he said “Do you know why you can’t get a girlfriend?” I said no. “Because you don’t ask.” He had a point. As did my wife when she said the same thing about play group last Tuesday. Could it be that there is an at-home mom out there just waiting for me to ask her and her child on a date? I know now that was not the case with Katie McAllister my junior year, but maybe this time will be different. Of course, since I’m getting outnumbered at 27 to one, it would be nice if one of the moms could show a little empathy and be the aggressor. (And now, just like junior year, I’ve justified myself out of having to ask. You still got it, Dustin.)
When I take 15-month-old Mabel to the playground, the interactions are usually very friendly. At-home moms will often praise me for the work that I’m doing with my daughter. They’ll say how great it is to have so many dads staying home to raise their children nowadays. Which begs the question: If being an at-home dad is so great, how come we can’t be a part of your little club? And the answer: Because it’s easier. Why mess with the dynamics? What can really be gained? What happens if somebody needs to breast-feed her baby? There has been a time or two when I’ve been watching Mabel run around the playground or the library and accidentally caught the eye of a woman in mid-feeding session. Though a complete accident—and I can almost guarantee that I felt more exposed than she—I tensed briefly as if a surprise
electric shock had just been administered, and immediately faked a coughing fit, turning my gaze toward my shoes, or the sky, or rubbing the skin off my eyes for about 10 minutes. But it did reinforce one of the major reasons we dads aren’t fully accepted into this culture yet.
So I did find and join the rare local dad group recently. However, they tend to meet either too far away or at inconvenient times for a toddler—and a dad—who still require a midday nap.
Since my boss is female, I’ve been asking her for advice. Right, she can’t talk just yet. But she gives me great cues (think Maggie Simpson). When I’m overthinking something, she usually finds a playful way to district me (nose pinch). Until she can verbalize a real plan of action, we’re going to keep showing up to the toddler book club at the library, among other such events, continuing to familiarize ourselves with the at-home mom culture. If all else fails, I’ll play the pity-my-poor-friendless daughter card, hopefully subtly enough not to sound high-school desperate. And once Mabel starts talking, maybe she can ask for our dates herself.
Put aside any lingering associations you may have with lavender and your grandmother’s favorite soap, perfume or sachet. When used judiciously in cooking, this aromatic herb can add an elegant, sophisticated and surprising note to both sweet and savory dishes.
My lavender lemon quick bread is subtly sweet, with a kick of spice from the white pepper glaze—enjoy a warm slice for breakfast with coffee or tea. And a touch of lavender in the buttermilk pancakes transforms an ordinary Sunday brunch dish into something truly special.
This versatile herb lends its heady scent to the sweet/tart hibiscus lemonade; top it off with some gin and you’ve got yourself the perfect cocktail for spring. And why stop at sweets? Lavender, rosemary and garlic play beautifully with the grassy notes in medium rare lamb lollipops.
Note: Make sure to buy culinary lavender to use in your cooking, available from online retailers.
Photo by David Stuck
There’s a new f-word in fitness. Now, before you jump to conclusions—jump (quite literally) over to Fit!, where they’re putting the “fun” into functional workouts. The Towson gym boasts the first Queenax system in the U.S. after the owner saw a demo at a trade show and bought it on the spot. Made in Italy, the equipment is similar to an adult jungle gym that combines 10 stations in one—allowing participants to jump, climb, box, swing on monkey bars, do TRX exercises and compete Gladiator-style on the battle ropes.“Queenax has unlimited creativity,” says Michele Calderon, a trainer for nearly two decades, who has customized her own strength/pilates/barre trifecta. “I have unlimited options on how to design a class and modify the moves. Everybody can do it.” That includes 40-something Julia Fahey, who admits she almost toppled over a few times during her first session. “I kept blaming my shoes, but really needed to work on my balance and core,” she says. “Now I’m addicted.” $50-$75 per 6-week session, http://www.fitgymusa.com
If you can’t make it to the English countryside for the weekend, a visit to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is just the ticket. That’s especially true this month, when the resplendent childhood home of American collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont opens its brilliant new exhibit, Costumes of Downton Abbey. Oh yes, Masterpiece mavens, you can spy Lady Sybil’s harem pants (God rest her soul), Lady Mary’s engagement dress (God rest Matthew’s soul) and Lady Edith’s wedding dress (don’t even get us started), along with 37 other glamorous get-ups paired with du Pont family duds and decorative items used during the same era. Note: Winterthur is home to one of the last of the original wild gardens, a style of horticultural design that was all the rage at the turn of the 20th century. Be sure to stop and smell the roses! Through Jan. 5, 2015, http://www.winterthur.org
Theater buffs rejoice! Time is on your side with the Kennedy Center’s three-week-long World Stages International Theater Festival 2014. Curated by Alicia Adams, the veritable smorgasbord of performing arts showcases nearly 250 artists from 20 countries in 13 productions—nine of which are U.S. premieres. Highlights include a video installation with multiple interpretations of Ophelia’s mad scene in “Hamlet,” an installation of puppets by Rosa Magalhães of the Pequeno Teatro of Brazil, an exhibition of costume sketches for Broadway’s “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “The Wiz” and the premiere of “Green Snake,” a play by the National Theater of China. Also on the agenda are discussions with participating directors and playwrights, staged readings and behind-the-scenes tours. March 10-30, http://www.kennedy-center.org
Always up for a new challenge, the wildly versatile James Franco will join our favorite actor du jour Chris O’Dowd (you’ve probably seen him in “Bridesmaids” but check out “Friends with Kids”) in the first Broadway production of Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men in 40 years. The revival is directed by Tony Award winner Anna D. Shapiro, and also stars “Gossip Girl’s” Leighton Meester whom, well, we’re giving the benefit of the doubt. In case you don’t remember honors English, “Of Mice and Men” is the story of George (Franco) and Lennie (O’Dowd)—two migrant workers during the Great Depression who develop an unlikely but deep friendship. Previews begin March 19. Make haste! http://www.ofmiceandmenonbroadway.com
Clustered around Falls and Clarkview roads in Baltimore County is a burgeoning little design district. Several shops, including The Kellogg Collection, Leesha Lee and A Fabric Place, already cater to the inner artists of DIY decorators. And now there’s a new kid on the block: Urban Threads. Moved from its former Ellicott City location, this bright little shop is as yummy as a cupcake—which is fitting, given its swirly meringue light fixtures that hover over colorful bundles of silks, linens and cottons. Elegant ready-made drapery panels line the walls, while dozens of decorative pillows, sheets, blankets and other accents furnish the beds. Savvy flipped over the fashion plate pillows by Ox Bow Decor, printed with vintage Parisian shoes, and the luxe velvet scarves made from duvet remnants in every color under the sun. 1407 Clarkview Road, Bare Hills. http://www.urbanthreadshome.com
Photography by David Stuck
Moments after Laura Cohen pries the lid off a white plastic bucket labeled “Ale Pale,” a bright, herbal aroma begins to fill her dining room.
The group of 10 women standing nearby crane their necks to peek at the murky liquid inside, and offer a chorus of “Oooh!” Lady Brew Baltimore, the city’s first female homebrewing club, is about to bottle its first batch of gruit, a medieval ale made with herbs and spices instead of hops.
“I think it’s going to be really intense,” says Cohen. She would know. Since founding Lady Brew in February 2012, she has helped make more than a dozen beers, from a chocolate lavender porter to a spicy peach pilsner.
Cohen and the other members of Lady Brew are part of a growing number of women who, in the past couple years, have been elbowing their way into the boys’ club of craft beer. Last year, Sacramento resident Annie Johnson became the first woman since 1983 to win Homebrewer of the Year in the American Homebrewers Associations national competition. Hop Bombshells in Salt Lake City and other all-female clubs are bubbling up across the country. And Barley’s Angels, a social craft beer club for women founded in January 2011, now has almost 100 chapters around the globe—including one in Fulton, Md.
“People think beer is just for men, and that’s not the case,” says Lauren Smith, who opened the Maryland chapter in May 2013.
On the last Thursday of the month, more than a dozen women pay $10 to sample six brands of craft beer at I.M. Wine in Fulton, where Smith is the manager. They tried wheat beers last October, and stouts in December.
“Sometimes people just taste Bud Light and are like, ‘Oh, I don’t like beer,’” says Smith, 26. “It helps people realize there are other beers than that.”
Cohen became interested in home brewing four years ago, after graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a master’s in community arts. She liked the way brewing brought together chemistry and creativity, and the seemingly limitless possibilities. Why make a traditional ale or lager when she could add whatever flavors she wanted? Ingredients that make a tasty soup or dessert often work in beer, too, she found.
“I thought, ‘You know what would be great together? Chocolate and cherry,’” she says. ‘“I’m going to make a chocolate cherry porter. Boom.’”
Not long after, a few of Cohen’s girlfriends also started brewing, and as the number grew to include people she didn’t know, Cohen decided to make it an official group.
Lady Brew, which meets every other month to brew and bottle, is as much about beer as it is about socializing and meeting like-minded women. At the gruit bottling, which took place on a Sunday afternoon in mid-January at Cohen’s house in Mayfield, members drank tea and coffee, and shared their own home brews. Cohen, a natural-born teacher who by day directs the community art department at Baltimore Clayworks, goes over each step of bottling with the group.
When Erin Mellenthin moved to Baltimore from Wisconsin in June 2012, she wanted to meet new people, and learn how to make her own beer. In Lady Brew, she found both.
“Lady Brew is a small piece of what Baltimore is—a lot of folks trying to create communities, whether through brewing or activism or biking,” said Mellenthin, a 24-year-old who lives in Better Waverly. “It’s a wonderful way to meet people and understand Baltimore.”
While Lady Brew isn’t exclusively female, its members take pride in creating a women-friendly space—and offense when other beer events don’t. In December, they took a stand against the name and imagery of local homebrew competition Barley Legal. They voiced their opinions to the event’s organizers, who agreed to disagree.
“It’s not like we go looking for things to fight,” says Cohen, 28. “But it’s important when this stuff comes up not to be silent.”
Joining Lady Brew costs $20 and includes membership to the Maryland Free State Homebrewers Guild and 10 percent off at local homebrew stores Nepenthe and Maryland Homebrew. Members also receive a copy of “Lady Brew Baltimore Homebrew Quick Guide,” a book Cohen wrote and illustrated.
Lady Brew meets twice for each beer, usually on a Sunday at Nepenthe or one of the members’ houses. The first session is for brewing—usually a five-gallon batch. Members bring ingredients they want to use, clean and sanitize the equipment, boil the ingredients, let the mixture cool, add yeast and let it ferment for seven to 10 days. Then they meet again to bottle the beer, usually forming an assembly line to sanitize, fill, cap and label the individual bottles.
Members, who are mostly in their 20s, 30s and 40s, chip in $10 to take home a six-pack. The group is also planning more events in the community, hopefully starting with a monthly Lady Brew night at Liam Flynn’s Ale House in Station North.
After bottling their first five gallons of gruit, named “Phlebotanist,” Cohen and the other members pour the final pint into a tumbler and take a sip.
“You can really taste the juniper berry and the coriander coming through,” Cohen says. “It’s amazing.”
Lady Brew Baltimore’s next brewing session is March 2 at 2 p.m., with a bottling on March 16 at 2 p.m. Membership costs $20, and a six-pack of the beer is $10. Go to http://www.ladybrewbaltimore.com
The Maryland chapter of Barley’s Angels meets on the final Thursday of each month at I.M. Wine, 8180 Maple Lawn Blvd. in Fulton. Tastings are $10 each, or a yearly membership is $25. Call 240-456-0330 or go to http://www.barleysangels.org
With the wildly popular Birroteca barely a year old, Robbin Haas opened the buzzy Nickel Taphouse in Mount Washington last November. Two restaurants booming in formerly troubled spots may anoint Haas with a reputation for a Midas touch. “The truth is,” says Haas, who has owned and operated restaurants from Florida golf resorts to Guatemala to the Eastern Shore, “I build restaurants that I want to go to.” Nickel, inspired by gin mills in Haas’ hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., features Beef on Weck—thin-sliced steak on a plump caraway-studded Kummelweck roll. But there are no chicken wings to be had. “I don’t want to be that place,” says Haas. “No wings, no nachos. We’re not a bar food restaurant.”
Décor. Haas commissioned local artist Robert Merrill to design Parisian-inspired decals for the windows, with such inviting messages as “Ladies Welcome,” “Open Sundays” and “Fresh Mussels.” The 140-year-old front door with a beveled glass window, and wood for the bar came from salvage outlets, and Haas purchased the beadboard booths that line one wall from a defunct Hooters—painting over the orange with a cool slate and adding brown Naugahyde cushions. An iron rack suspended above the bar holds 120 flickering votive candles, and the deer antler chandelier coordinates nicely with the bison horn door handles—and toilet paper holder in the bathroom.
Drinks. Nickel has 32 (mostly mid-Atlantic) craft beers on tap, with the brews constantly changing. “We buy one keg at a time, and when one pops we put another one in,” says Haas. There’s also a 50-bottle wine list with only a handful over $40, and 18 wines by the glass. Bar manager Danny Onaga designs cocktails with small batch spirits and housemade fixings. “You won’t find maraschino cherries behind the bar,” says Haas. Nor will you find Seagram’s or Absolut, for that matter, though there is Buffalo Trace Bourbon infused with bacon fat, used in one of Nickel’s special Boozy Shakes along with candied bacon, vanilla ice cream from Prigel Family Creamery and ground walnuts.
Food. Along with its signature Beef on Weck, Nickel offers healthy salads, plates (for two) of whole bronzini, chicken and dumplings and brisket with mashed potatoes. There’s also a sinfully juicy Roseda burger—“everyone who uses that beef has an amazing burger,” Haas demurs—along with a nightly selection of oysters (on a recent Saturday night, the place shucked more than 600) and, yes, mussels.
Service. Haas’ restaurant philosophy is more about the Golden Rule than a Midas touch. “To me, service is key in a restaurant,” he says. “In our job description I list the tools you need each day: an apron, five pens, a wine opener and a smile. It’s called the hospitality business because you’re supposed to be hospitable. You’re supposed to make people happy.”
Location, Location, Location. The 2,000-square-foot space has seen at least four tenants in nearly the same number of years. But if Haas can keep up the vibe—as he seems to be doing with Birroteca—there’s no reason to think Nickel won’t be a keeper. As for the other tavern around the corner? “The more the merrier,” he says.
Final Verdict. For some, Nickel might be a bit out of the way, but it’s worth remembering when you’re in the mood for filling victuals and affordable drinks. Not to mention smiling staff and Boozy Shakes.
Photography by Tim Lee
It must have been kismet. When the new homeowners of this waterfront Annapolis townhouse were looking to move from the Eastern Shore to the capital city several years ago, they asked a woman if there were any homes for sale in her community. At the time there weren’t, she responded, adding that she and her husband had recently bought their house but that they came on the market very infrequently.
Fast forward a few years and the couple renewed their home search efforts. A friend mentioned she thought she knew of a great place for sale and, you guessed it: It was the home of the woman they had spoken to earlier.
The couple not only happily bought the house, but the entire contents as well, from the custom-designed furniture to the previous owners’ extensive collection of art and sculpture.
“Buying a turnkey home has really been a joy,” say the new homeowners. “It’s like going on vacation and never leaving.”
The 2,400-square-foot Severn River townhouse was painstakingly renovated by the previous owners, who called on Florida-based interior designer and space planner H. Allen Holmes to adapt the 35-year-old townhouse to a maintenance- and clutter-free lifestyle, but one that also was welcoming to their many friends and family.
Not only was the house completely gutted architecturally, but the homeowners also started with a clean slate when it came to the furnishings, which reflect a more modern aesthetic, one that the new homeowners appreciate as well.
To make the house meet his clients’ needs, Holmes—who worked with Annapolis architect Scarlett Breeding and custom residential contractors Lynbrook of Annapolis—reconfigured the interior space, combining four bedrooms into two and creating two spa-like bathrooms and spacious his and her closets.
To keep clutter under control, Holmes thought of the house as if it were a boat and created a central core that keeps everyday appliances and tableware out of sight. When the cabinet doors are open, they slide back into the core, maintaining the sleek lines of the kitchen/dining area but keeping the amount of workspace intact as well.
“Allen really thought outside the box here,” says the new lady of the house. “Everyone who comes to our home says the same thing: ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anything like it.’”
Holmes also used materials that would enhance the design sensibility and feeling of space and light, from the striking stainless steel and glass staircase to translucent movable glass panels (used instead of blinds) and an Israeli agate dining table that sits atop acrylic sheets for a floating effect.
“There are custom details throughout the house,” says Holmes—such as the living room TV that rises out of the floor at the touch of a remote so that it does not compete with the view of the harbor or “argue with the art.”
The reconfigured floor plan, which offers more generous wall space, is ideal for the eclectic art collection, which is now enjoyed by the new homeowners, and includes works by such artists as American abstract painter Brian Rutenberg, artist and illustrator Roxie Munro and American impressionist painter Marilyn Bendell.
Holmes didn’t know at the time that two sets of homeowners would enjoy the results of his work. But he’s happy his attention to detail has been so appreciated.
“Every aspect of this house is unique,” says Holmes. “It’s an art piece in itself.”
Architect: Scarlett Breeding of Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, 410-268-1213. http://www.absarchitects.com.
Builder: Ray Gauthier of Lynbrook of Annapolis, 410-295-3313. http://www.lynbrookofannapolis.com.
Designer: H. Allen Holmes of H. Allen Holmes, 772-245-8586. http://www.hallenholmesinc.com.
Loyalty is such a rare virtue nowadays, don’t you think? We live in a world of throw-away clothing and nanosecond attention spans. How civilized, then, to be recognized for your dedication once in a while. Poppy and Stella thinks so. Now the Fells Point shoe mecca is doing more than enticing you with its footwear, apparel, accessories and cosmetics, it’s rewarding you as well. For every $200 you spend, you get a $20 voucher to spend on future purchases. Savvy thinks that’s worth sticking around for. 728 S. Broadway, Fells Point. http://www.poppyandstella.com
Remember the friendly skies? Remember Delta is ready when you are? Remember up, up and away? That was TWA and if you’re old enough to remember TWA you may remember the pleasures of travel. Well, those days are gone the way of the Pan Am Clipper.
Had a round-trip Delta flight from BWI to Salt Lake City recently. On neither flight did my seat recline. Flight attendants shrugged. Said it was my proximity to an exit row, although the seats next to me reclined. (I’m not an aeronautical engineer, but I think the seat was broken.) They say that reclining seats on airplanes may be unheard of in another year—at least in coach, but then everything is really coach now more or less. Flying Greyhound.
There’s nothing to eat now either. Snacks, perhaps snackettes is a better word, are distributed with a flintiness that would have warmed a workhouse warder in Charles Dickens’ London.
But the worst part was getting on and off the plane. Our plane was at the gate long before the scheduled takeoff. But still we left late. Why? Any frequent flier could tell you. It’s the staggering amount of carry-on luggage. The airlines created this problem. When carriers began charging fees to check bags, Mr. and Mrs. America—looking like Jerry Lewis in “The Bellboy”—began dragging things on planes, stopping just short of live poultry.
And there’s security. Folks blame 9/11, but that’s not the problem. There’s no consistency from airport to airport. You might be strip-searched in Chicago, but they simply wave you through in Denver. A small carry-on passes through the X-ray machine in Baltimore no problem but the next day in Boston the same satchel results in my being pulled out of line. The charge: possession of Tom’s Toothpaste. They confiscated Tom. Took him down to Guantanamo. I’m lucky that I didn’t go with him.
Meanwhile, back in the no-longer friendly skies, the seats get smaller and more spartan. A recent New York Times headline “On Jammed Jets, Sardines Turn on One
Another” seems to capture the esprit du voyage. They say by 2017 passengers won’t actually be sitting on domestic flights of less than two hours but will be strapped together in a standing position like some sort of weird amusement park ride. OK, I made that up, but someone’s going to try it.
So where does this leave us? At the gate actually. Planes take off later and later. It now takes 30 to 40 minutes to board an aircraft today—more than twice what it was in the 1970s. I did not make that up.
Blame the “nachos factor. ” Travelers will carry anything on to a plane. I selected the ubiquitous nacho because there’s nothing more difficult to carry than a container of nachos slathered with an industrial solvent that resembles cheese. Face it, our problems have less to do with 9/11 than with
7-Eleven, so to speak.
And airlines not only charge too much to check bags but they fail to enforce the carry-on rule. This cripples boarding. (Travel tip: If you can’t lift a suitcase over your head, IT’S TOO HEAVY.)
The on-time performance rate of airlines would take off if only they would enforce the carry-on rules. Purses, lap- tops and briefcases are one thing, but anvils masquerading as suitcases are another. My solution: check all luggage.
There is NO WAY that you could not board planes more quickly and efficiently if you banned most carry-on items. There are legitimate reasons flights are late—bad weather, maintenance issues, pilot drunk. But those are occasional glitches. The nacho factor is a constant.
“What about convenience?” I hear some dim bulb ask.
How inconvenient would it be to check your luggage and leave the Slurpee behind? Security would be faster. Less to examine! And a more powerful screening process might be used to examine the checked luggage. And
with the money saved, airlines could hire more baggage handlers. Maybe even put in fewer seats to allow reclining?
Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest domestic carrier (and BWI’s, too), should try this. I’m a huge fan. They changed the face of flying. They’ve made mistakes. Got mixed up with AirTran and altered their frequent flier program, which really ticked me off. But I still love them. This advice is my gift to them. Free. If it works, perhaps I can recline?
If there’s one thing Charm City has in spades, it’s creative types. But with so many, Savvy gets breathless trying to keep up. How convenient, then, that oodles of them now gather at Bmore Flea organized by local epicureans Patrick and Lonnie (shhhh—they still have to keep their day jobs). You might find handmade soy candles by Charm City Wax, prints by Flat Rat Press, tiny trees by Ishida Bonsai or wacky, irreverent tees by Sharp Shirter. You can even slurp an oyster and sip a Natty Boh or Bloody Mary while you’re shopping. Can’t do that at the mall. Saturday, March 8, St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul St. After that, it’s held outdoors every Saturday at Penn Station plaza through the fall. http://www.facebook.com/bmoreflea
RUNWAY TO REAL LIFE. We’ve heard the phrase many times. But fashion trends are far more reaching than your favorite boutique. Couture details are popping up everywhere, including well-appointed interiors and gardens. This season we are loving…RHAPSODY IN BLUE, a dreamy indigo world with sumptuous fabrics and classic lines. ART INSPIRED pieces that take their cues from paint strokes, graphic design and historical art movements. GLOBAL CHIC finds that take us on a journey to market from Morocco to Istanbul to Greece. And MIXED MEDIA where glass flirts with gold and wood bonds with bronze.
When Kevin Spacey’s limo pulls up at night to a big, pleasantly shabby house in scene 4, episode 12 of the Emmy Award-winning “House of Cards”—that’s our house in Roland Park. Its five minutes of fame was the culmination of months of visits and four days of filming in October 2012, by a crew of 30 cast members and stagehands—much to the delight of most, but not all, of our neighbors on St. John’s Road. Here’s how it happened.
The doorbell rang in August, just as we were talking about getting a new roof.
A young, easygoing guy named Eric introduced himself as a location scout for a new Netflix series that was filming in Baltimore. Would we be interested in letting our house be used as a location?
My husband, Dan, whose office is just off the entrance hall, and who never looks up for visitors, looked up. Not one to be overly impressed by celebrity, or even the possibility of celebrity, he listened and chatted with more than his usual animation, holding off on asking the question that those who know him well could see was uppermost in his mind. “Would it pay for a roof?”
Eric was invited in to look around. He walked through the main rooms—complimentary but noncommittal—and said they were checking out other houses in the neighborhood as well. He would be in touch. Our hopes sunk.
A few days later, he called to see if he could bring over some more people to see the house. A set designer and a producer showed up and admired the “sightlines.” Soon after, cameramen and an art director came, noting that the wide hallways would accommodate the large cameras.
Our hopes rose again. Finally the director arrived to give the green light—and Dan lit up.
Note to film and TV buffs: Allen Coulter of “Boardwalk Empire,” “Sex and the City” and “Sopranos” fame directed episodes 12 and 13. Executive producer David Fincher (“The Social Network,” “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Fight Club”) directed the others.
Weeks passed while the cast and crew filmed at other Baltimore locations, including the nearby Baltimore Country Club. By the end of September, things were heating up here. Set designers came and went, explaining the look they were trying to get and what changes they would need to make in the house. The color palette for the show, they told us, was neutral. So out went the rugs, the red sofa, the curtains and the upholstered chairs. The walls were painted, and there was a lot of discussion about removing some distinctive wallpaper in the front hall. (In the end, it stayed.)
In “our” scene, Frank Underwood (Spacey) takes a night flight to the Midwest to visit the home of a character loosely modeled on Warren Buffett. Raymond Tusk, the Buffet character, lives in a rambling, unpretentious, shingle-style house that suits his down-to-earth personality. The script describes him as “the modest billionaire.” Just like us! He lives there with his 60-something wife, a pet cockatoo and lots of brown furniture that’s seen better days. Even our kitchen, last updated in 2001, was too modern—and so they installed new blinds (with better light control) and added net curtains on top. Our countertops were replaced by butcher block, and all of our light fixtures were removed.
Days before filming started, we were told that they would be filming in our bedroom. Kevin Spacey in our bed! Would we mind leaving the house to spend three nights at the new Four Seasons Hotel downtown? Um, sure, that would be OK with us—even with the teenage son, who would have his own room overlooking the harbor to compensate for “the horrible inconvenience” of having to do homework in a different room.
While we packed our bags, Eric started working the street, talking to the neighbors about what to expect. Politely, he apologized in advance for the giant trucks that would be lining narrow St. John’s Road, and for the dazzlingly bright lights that would be shining on our house during night filming. He invited everyone to eat from the food truck, a gesture that went a surprisingly long way to keeping everyone happy.
St. John’s moment of fame had begun.
The first morning, five giant tractor- trailers rolled down our dead-end street, taking up its entire length, with one or two more parked on Roland Avenue. Swarms of crew members arrived with microphones and walkie-talkies, bringing scripts, makeup and props for the day. A black Escalade (preferred vehicle of movie stars) pulled up with Kevin and his dog, a black Lab mix, in the back. People started to gather outside the house to watch dozens of extras, handlers and crew coming in and out, smoking and chatting about the action going on inside.
The crew had warned us that we would probably never get to meet Kevin Spacey, because when in character for a role, “Kevin is completely focused” and “doesn’t even talk to us.” But one afternoon, still in costume, the man himself wandered out of the house and chatted at length to neighbors, kids and local dog-walkers standing outside.
He talked about dogs, about our house, about his role as Frank Underwood the manipulative senator from South Carolina, and about his time in London, where he has long been artistic director at the Old Vic theater. The next night he made another appearance, greeting us all—charming, witty and self-deprecating as you could wish a movie star to be. No photos were allowed sadly, because HBO/Netflix owns any photograph of him in costume and makeup as Frank Underwood.
There were a few complaints. A tree branch was damaged by a truck. Getting in and out of our dead-end street was time-consuming and neighbors had to park blocks away. Sorry guys.
For us, however, it was all good.
In the end, we got the house back better than before (they left the blinds). And we are proud owners of an 8-by-10-inch glossy signed by our friend, Keven Spacey, along with some fun memories and part (but not all) of a new roof. Something to remember next time a location scout knocks on your door!
It may have similarities to Liquid Assets in Ocean City, Md., but Liquid Lib’s, the newest member of the Liberatore’s clan, has an urban flair and seems to be attracting folks from inside and outside the Beltway. Tucked behind the mothership in an office building on Deereco Road in Lutherville, the wine shop with benefits lends itself to suburban meetups and is worth the trek. General manager Nick Angelini, whose resume includes stints at Kali’s Court and Da Mimmo’s, has stocked the place with wines of varied price points, for takeaway or consumption on-site with a $10 corkage. (This minimal markup means, say, a Napa Cabernet from Silver Oak, a customer favorite, priced well over $200 on many wine lists, can be had for $135 here.) If you’re undecided, sample from about 60 wines available by the glass, or from the selection of wines in the Cruvinet, an automated wine dispenser operated by the swipe of a pre-purchased card. Liquid Lib’s also offers solids; deviled eggs with scallop crudo or crunches of bacon, mussels, meatballs and salads are served on small plates, most under $10. The wine you choose might influence where you drink it: there’s a glass bar, lit from beneath with colored lights for a quick quaff of pre-movie Chardonnay, high-top tables made from reclaimed barrels where you’ll want to share a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with friends and comfy loveseats around a fireplace—perfect for a sparkly splurge. Go ahead, lib a little. 9515 Deereco Road, Lutherville, 410-561-3300, http://www.liberatores.com
Spencer Compton splits his time between Red Emma’s bookstore and café.
What should a suburban mom like me wear to Red Emma’s? Steve Madden combat boots? Nerd glasses and a babushka? As I head to the left-wing co-op bookstore’s hyped new Station North location, I fear a repeat of my first visit when it was still located in Mount Vernon. Maybe I’m paranoid, but when I stepped into that dark, cramped space to kill some time, I felt like the word bourgeoisie was tattooed on my forehead.
Upon entering Red Emma’s sleek new headquarters at 30 W. North Ave., where Cyclops Books used to be, I start to relax a bit. With its sky-high ceilings, cool gray walls and enormous picture windows, the redone Emma’s is five times the original in size and at least 10 times more attractive. It’s easy to feel anonymous and comfy here.
Founded in 2004 by a handful of social justice and labor organizers and anarchist/activist bookworms, the 100-percent worker- owned organization opened doors here in October, having plotted their ambitious move since 2008. Back then, when many indie bookstores were languishing, Red Emma’s—named for Russian-born feminist/anarchist/ Jewish atheist Emma Goldman—found themselves selling stronger than ever. They also found it nearly impossible to seat everyone who wanted a spot at the store’s numerous politically relevant readings and lectures.
Just recently, more than 100 folks showed to hear Craig Steven Wilder, chair of MIT’s history department, talk about his new book, “Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.” Obviously, this store pulls a smart crowd. Glancing around, I notice half a dozen middle- aged intellectuals who don’t dye their hair.
Casey McKeel, Kate Khatib and Lanie Thomas serve up some transparently traded coffee and vegan muffins from their new kitchen.
Before I have a chance to become intimidated by their lack of dye or the diehard book selection—“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire catches my eye as I hunt my bag for my Coach wallet—one of the 16 owner/ workers, Casey McKeel, 27, greets me politely. She hands me a complimentary cup of Maya Vinic roast, a flavor she picked up in Mexico to include in her Thread Coffee line, a brand she partners with Red Emma’s café.
The brew’s delicious. And the fact that Casey’s business model operates under “transparent trade” guidelines (think free-trade-on-speed) helps me wash down my liberal guilt with an audible ahhhhhhh.
A tasty improvement: the bookstore now features its own vegan restaurant with breakfast, soup and sandwich recipes whipped up by co-owner Melanie Thomas, 37, formerly exec chef at critical darling Great Sage in Clarksville. (The tofurkey melt and vegan grilled cheese sound satisfying on this brisk day, but I’m on duty.)
While McKeel shares a bit about her political philosophies, I’m struck by her great bangs and super-stylish jewelry. I wonder if she finds me tragically unhip, but maybe that’s just the paranoia/guilt
complex/intimidation factor talking?
She describes herself as an anarchist, and it occurs to me that even anarchists can wear eyeliner. Good for her. When she tells me that Red Emma’s is her primary source of employment, as it is for several of her
fellow co-owners, most of them in their 20s and 30s, I do wonder how she can afford her awesome baubles and asymmetrical shag—not that I have the nerve to ask.
All co-owners earn $11/hour, per their philosophical agreement, from the chef to the book buyer to the barista. Perhaps McKeel barters coffee for cuts? (Some of the construction labor that rebuilt the space was donated.)
“The idea of a co-op is nothing new,” McKeel reminds me. She joined forces with Emma’s in 2013. “It’s starting to grow in popularity as so many people are having to work multiple jobs. You might as well be working for yourself as well as somebody else.”
“Do you ever get bored?” I blurt, looking around at the shelves of 7,000 extremely important texts.
“No, there’s always so much to do,” she says. “That’s where it’s different being an owner. You just made a million drinks—now there’s a break, so how about we come up with a new way to talk about our coffee? Every stride you make is a reflection of you.”
“Almost everybody’s got something else they do on the side,” adds founding member Kate Khatib, 36, an earnest woman with beautiful brown eyes, who joins us at the table. “I teach part-time at MICA; some work at farmers’ markets; some teach; some are union organizers. It has been this way since the beginning.”
But one of Emma’s goals, she adds, is to create a prosperous, co-owned and operated business that can sustain its workers on a full-time basis.
“Does this seem like, well, a very realistic venture long-term?”
“I don’t know what that means,” she tells me for the third time in our brief exchange, and I feel like I’m back in philosophy 101. (Khatib holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Hopkins.)
“People can make it…on $11 an hour?” I ask.
Khatib acknowledges the plan may not be achievable in the end, but she quit her full-time editing job in 2013 because she wants to work at Emma’s more—and she’s committed to the vision (if not the “venture”).
“Baltimore City has a living wage of 11 bucks an hour,” Khatib says. “Whether it’s sustainable…I think it’s really hard to say whether I or anybody else will stay at Emma’s for the next 10 years, but I want it to be a possibility.”
I take a break to head to the restroom, where I have to smile over a sign above the sink—“Workers Must Wash Hands”—that has been doctored to read “Proletariat Must Wash Hands.”
I wonder, as I eyeball myself in the mirror, “Could I ever go back to my Russian communist roots and hack working here, if I really, really believed in it?”
Out in the stacks, I meet Spencer Compton, 26, who works no outside gigs (but does front a post-punk band called Et Al.) and splits his Emma’s time between the café and bookstore. Compton says the store embraces “the anarchist concept of an egalitarian workplace and the whole idea that there’s no boss or management.”
Bingo. No boss. My face lights up when he talks. Maybe I’m an anarchist in part?
Certain things appeal to me about this no-manager ethos. (I’ve been told I have a problem with authority.) Since Red Emma’s is a worker collective, everything is decided by consensus. Oh, and to join up, each member must put down a $1,000 ownership share—or, as most choose, agree to have a small amount deducted from their weekly paychecks over the first year of their employment. If they leave, that money is theirs to take with them.
I fork over $2 for a to-die-for vegan berry muffin and continue to peruse the titles on the shelves. It’s neat to see that Cullen Nawalkowsky, 37, the chief book buyer—a slim, smiling redhead with heavy spectacles and a bushy beard—stocks all sorts of things anybody might like to read. The selections by Foucault and Studs Terkel and Angela Davis are paired with cookbooks and quirky kids books and Dover Thrift lit classics priced retro-low. (In the children’s section, a beautiful illustrated copy of “Wind in the Willows” shares a shelf with “My Two Grannies.”)
As I chew and review more titles, Nawalkowsky, who’s the friendliest crew member I’ve met, seems happy to chat. I ask him if he sees Red Emma’s as part of a growing trend or just a lark. (You can ask this guy anything—he’s naturally funny, and probably he’s the one who sneaked in and changed the bathroom sign.)
He tells me there are some good models for success out there. For example, the gluten-free flour used in the muffin I’m eating comes from a worker-owned company called Bob’s Red Mill, and Twin Oaks Community Foods supplies the café’s tofu. Meanwhile, the University of Baltimore Community Development Clinic has assigned Red Emma’s two student lawyers to study the national worker cooperative trend up close and provide legal advice whenever the collective needs it.
Besides, he explains, the store is getting great traffic since they relocated. Their social media following has multiplied exponentially. Kids from MICA and Hopkins are making regular stops at all points Station North. People are attending classes in the attached Free School classroom, where Nawalkowsky himself leads a regular critical reading group. But, according to Khatib, folks from the community are welcome to come in and teach classes about just about anything there. (So far, no crazies to make them regret that policy.)
I try to imagine Nawalkowsky in 10 years, still trim, still bearded—still here? Perhaps. He, too, has scrapped his full-time DJ and party promoter gig for the lit life. It occurs to me that a card-carrying Baltimore DJ might be accustomed to getting by on a little less. Maybe that’s one reason he’s so svelte.
When Nawalkowsky pulls out his iPhone and offers to show me his sales figures since the store’s move, I feel like a total capitalist pig: “Yes, please! That would explain a lot.”
I’m impressed to note that book sales, which account for about one-third of the store’s profit margin, have risen from $1,000/week on average in 2012 to $4,000/week since October 2013, the month of the collective’s grand reopening.
“Sometimes it’s $1,000 a day,” he says. “No week has been less than $3,000.”
We agree, Nawalkowsky and I, that Ursula K. Le Guin is a phenomenal writer—he’s got a selection of her sci-fi—and I now think I can ask something nosier.
“Cullen, will you order books for people?” I ask. “I mean, say, if I wanted the new Barbara Kingsolver from you?”
“Of course,” he says. “I wonder if I have that.”
“But would you order any books for anyone who came in?” I ask.
“Sure, we want to be a space that functions as a café and bookstore regardless of your political orientation,” he tells me. “That said, we might not order the complete works of Glenn Beck. We also want to provide a home for the marginalized—we’re going to prioritize that. For Glenn Beck, I might say, ‘Go to Amazon.’”
The folks who live in Hanover’s Arundel Mills seem to be a little bit happier since Vivo Trattoria Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar opened its doors in December. The Italian tavern at The Hotel at Arundel Preserve has a menu to please just about every palate, with comfort food versions of pasta, flatbreads and such traditional preparations as veal piccata and chicken parmigiana. There’s also a highly accessible wine list with plenty of options in the $30 to $50 range.
The interior is a fury of textures, with faux stone walls with lettered signs announcing trattoria, pizza and vino. Wood blinds compete with long draperies and there are at least four styles of light fixtures—as if multiple designers were at work independently. If something about the place says chain, that’s just where it’s headed.
Vivo is a prototype for additional projects, says George Korten, of the Long Island-based George Martin restaurant group, which also owns Grillfire across the lobby. Grillfire has locations in Merrick and Rockville Centre, Long Island, and the group also owns Strip Steak and GM Burger Bar. “We’d like to take Vivo someplace else if there’s a market for it,” Korten says. “Maryland seems underserved.” 7793-B Arundel Mills Blvd., Hanover,
Game for Mah Jongg
Some of us remember our moms and grandmothers playing, some of us play ourselves, but even true mah jongg mavens may be less than fluent in the game’s history, which is as colorful as the decorative tiles used to play the game. Popularized in America during the Roaring Twenties, the game originated in China where some say it dates back to the age of Confucius. So why does the game have such a loyal American following?
“Mah jongg is a visual universe unto itself, governed by dragons, directional winds and cocktails. It was—and still is—social media with a heavy dose of style and history,” says Abbott Miller, exhibition designer for Project Mah Jongg, opening at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on March 30.
Look for original works by fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi and renowned illustrators Christoph Niemann and Bruce McCall, along with vintage advertisements, Chinoiserie and all kinds of mah jongg-themed tchotchkes. Bonus: The gallery will be outfitted with a table where visitors can play and schmooze with friends—and for any mah jongg novices, the JMM will even offer lessons. Through June 29, http://www.jewishmuseummd.org
Bad to the Bard
Stretch out your silly bone before heading to Centerstage for Gavin Witt’s production of Twelfth Night. One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, this 17th-century romcom makes for the most delightful kind of escape. The action begins when Viola, the play’s heroine, is shipwrecked on the lovely island of Illyria. Confusion and hilarity ensue and love triangles, partying and cross-dressing are the orders of the day. March 5–April 6. Tickets, $19-$39. http://www.centerstage.org
Tipsy Travel Adventures
Get your Belvedere cocktails and Advil ready. The one and only funny gal and self-proclaimed hot mess Chelsea Handler is bringing her Uganda Be Kidding Me Live tour to D.C., promoting her new book of the same name, which hits shelves March 4. While drunken escapades, one-night stands and outrageous pranks are always on the “Chelsea Lately” host’s set list, you also can expect her to discuss her most absurd travel stories and questionable travel guide etiquette. Definitely worth the drive. March 5 at DAR Constitution Hall. Tickets, $63-$73. http://www.ticketmaster.com
Modern art fans can get their fix at the BMA’s German Expressionism: A Revolutionary Spirit exhibit, which features more than 35 paintings, prints, sculpture, watercolors and drawings that showcase the revolutionary art movement of Germany’s early 20th century. Artwork from the two most prominent Expressionist artist groups, Die Brücke (The Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), includes creations by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Max Beckmann. Through Sept. 14. 443-573-1700, http://www.artbma.org
The Joffrey Ballet Company will feed the souls of dance lovers, Broadway babies and fashionistas alike when they perform this month in Baltimore. Presenting a different repertoire on each of the two nights they’re in town, selections will feature choreography by dance icons Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, music by Frank Sinatra and Sergei Rachmaninoff and costumes by Oscar de la Renta. How can you go wrong? March 4-5 at The Lyric. Tickets: $15-$65. 410-900-1150, http://www.lyricoperahouse.com
If you’re looking for something a little more au courant, head to the BMA’s annual Baker Artist Awards exhibit featuring exquisitely temporary forms by sculptor Jonathan Latiano, images of discarded objects and ideas by photographer Lynne Parks and a video of cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski. Latiano’s presentation will involve creating a pod of extinct baiji dolphins that surfaces out of driftwood and cascades above the audience before changing back to its natural form. Just go with it. Through April 6. 443-573-1700, http://www.artbma.org
Madea won’t be featured in entertainment mastermind Tyler Perry’s new stage play, Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned, but don’t fret. If you’re a fan of his work, you’ll be sure to love this story about a woman and a man who meet on the Internet and begin a crazy, drama-filled relationship, chockfull of soapy storylines and betrayals. And yes, there will be power ballads. March 20-23 at The Lyric. Tickets, $52. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
A Cappella Ella Ella
Listen up, lyrical gangsters. NBC’s recently revived hit TV show “The Sing-Off” is going on a live tour, and will feature notable groups Home Free, The Filharmonic and VoicePlay. If you have no idea what any of these groups are, check out Home Free’s version of Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise.” You’ll be an instant fan. The Sing-Off Live Tour hits Baltimore Soundstage for an all-ages show on March 2. Tickets, $35. 877-987-6487, http://www.ticket fly.com
A quartet comprised of two violin players, a viola player and a violoncello player isn’t anything new, but Austria’s Minetti Quartett is bringing a fresh spin to live classical music. Die Presse describes Minetti as “top musicians who are [infusing] music from the classic and romantic with energy for the new millennium.” Hear them perform pieces by Beethoven and Mendelssohn on March 8 at Hodson Hall Auditorium at Johns Hopkins University. Free. 410-516-7164, http://www.shriverconcerts.org
This is Thriller
Experience essence of Michael Jackson in Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, coming to Baltimore Arena. Through dance, acrobatics, dazzling visuals and set pieces and, of course, music by the late King of Pop, the cast of 63 performers is sure to bring the spirit of Michael Jackson to life. March 18-19 at Baltimore Arena. Tickets, $50-$175. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Relive that time you donned a perm, a leisure suit or a low-cut Halston dress with neck medallions and danced like there was no tomorrow. The hits from “Saturday Night Fever” will abound during Stayin’ Alive: One Night of the Bee Gees, a live performance tribute to one of the best-selling musical acts of all time, presented by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. We just wish Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon were hosting. March 28-30 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets $34-$70. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org
Mike Doughty is a lot of things. He’s a singer, songwriter, poet, playwright, photographer and, hey, even “Most Improved Camper” at West Point Youth Camp in 1982. Previously the lead singer of the beloved ’90s band Soul Coughing (“Super Bon Bon,” anyone?), Doughty has gone on to build a solid solo career, including a recent cover album that paid tribute to the likes of John Denver, Cheap Trick and Stephen Sondheim. This time, he’s letting his fans get into the act for one of his inventive “Question Jar Shows” where you can put requests (and even wacky personal questions) into a literal glass jar that’s—you guessed it—half full. March 22 at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis. Tickets, $25. 410-268-4545, http://www.ramsheadon stage.com
We dare you to name just one thing that makes artist Wayne White’s work so special. Imposs-ible! Hailing from Chattanooga, Tenn., White has done everything from designing “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” to working as an illustrator for The New York Times and The Village Voice, to art directing music videos for the Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Gabriel. He even created a 22-foot puppet with a likeness to country singer George Jones. Lately, though, White has turned his talents to fine art—gaining a following with his oversized, three-dimensional word paintings with messages ranging from “Beauty is Embarrassing” to “[Expletive] Cubism.” (You can imagine what he said.) He’ll share his multi-faceted creative journey as part of the recently reopened Contemporary’s inaugural speaker series, CoHosts, on March 27. Free. 410-756-0397, http://www.contemporary.org
Show tunes, profanity and the LDS movement…oh my! Experience what Entertainment Weekly dubbed “the funniest musical of all time,” when The Book of Mormon, embarking on its second U.S. tour, comes to the Hippodrome. From the creators of “South Park”, the musical tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to share the Scriptures with the people of a remote Ugandan village. Spoiler alert: hijinks ensue. The show went on to win nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Through March 9 at the Hippodrome Theatre. Tickets, $40-$150. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster .com
Who says you’re too old for some old-fashioned storytelling? Gather around for the Stoop Storytelling Series, where seven real-life Baltimoreans get seven minutes to share true and personal stories around a common theme. This month’s topic speaks for itself: “Mistakes were made: Stories about big snafus, big boo-boos and big, bad deeds.” And, note: three audience members also get the chance to give their own impromptu three-minute stories. Are you in? March 31, 8 p.m. at Centerstage. Tickets, $18. 410-332- 0033, http://www.stoopstorytelling.com
A group of disheveled Shakespearean players perform an English countryside tour of “King Lear” when Sir, one of the last great actors of his generation, forgets his first line during his 227th performance as the titular character. This is the premise for the 1980 West End and Broadway hit The Dresser, which revolves around Sir’s acting crisis and his dedicated dresser, Norman, who tries to keep the veteran actor’s life together. Norman’s backstage efforts may seem a little similar to the story of Lear and his Fool. Feb. 26- March 23 at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $38-$60. 410-752-2208, http://www.everymantheatre.org.
Gimme an OMG!
Remember when “Bring It On” was, like, everybody’s favorite high school cult classic? Oh wait, it still is. And now, you can see the bitchy cheerleading team rivalries unfold live and in the flesh in Bring It On: The Musical, loosely based on the 2000 film that starred Kirsten Dunst. The Tony-nominated musical will involve the routines, stunts and drama from the film, as well as original musical numbers. March 29 at the Strathmore. Tickets, $39-$81. 301-581-5100, http://www.strathmore.org
Photo by David Stuck
Coach Falcon and trainees in his colorful Falls Road studio.
When Three different friends pitched us a story on Believer’s Fitness Boot Camp—one going so far as to call coach Howard Falcon an “undiscovered wonder”—we immediately laced up our Nikes for a trial class with the personal trainer, sports nutritionist and kickboxing instructor in his colorful, no-frills studio in Mount Washington. Despite barely being able to move after a brutal series of cardio/strength intervals (burpees, anyone?) we mostly remember having fun for the full hour of power. “You want to laugh through the pain,” says Falcon, who uses humor to motivate clients—coming up with fun nicknames (we worked out with “Brooklyn” and “South Jersey”) and developing a sense of camaraderie. Falcon’s “we are family” philosophy also extends to children with special needs. He offers Pilates for kids with autism to help them release stress and increase independence. $125 per month. 6302 Falls Road, 410-818-3656, http://www.believersfitnessbootcamp.com
The nuegados at Mi Comalito are straight from El Salvador: six patties of queso dura (hard white cheese) and yucca, deep fried and resting in a pool of sweet syrup made from boiled sugar cane, with a pleasantly burnt flavor reminiscent of low grade maple syrup. Late last year, owner/chef Wilson Gutierrez, a native of El Salvador, leased a tiny spot in Charles Village—an area he found devoid of Central American food—painted the walls bright yellow and red and started making recipes he had learned in his home country. Gutierrez also prepares food from Mexico and Honduras, fresh and inexpensive, accompanied by soft, chewy handmade corn tortillas. Rivaling anything we’ve tried in the Upper Fells/Patterson Park area known as Little Mexico, we enjoyed Plato Típico Salvadoreño, shrimp and chicken in a tomato-tinged cream sauce with thin slices of steak, rice and salad, and the Mariscada seafood soup bursting with lobster, shrimp and clams. BYOB. 2101 N. Charles St., 410-837-6033.
Photographed by Don Struke
In the garden of Amy and Jim Matis, the wall’s the thing. When this couple and their daughter moved to the 1938 Virginia Tidewater house in Pinehurst, an elegant, walled garden was already there. “A walled garden is something Jim had dreamed of since childhood,” says his wife, who works side by side with him both at home in their well-tended, sophisticated garden and in the civil engineering firm, Matis Warfield, Inc.
Built to include historic salmon bricks from Crisfield, the house is patterned after “Makepeace,” a 17th-century estate in Somerset County. So is the hardscape of the formal gardens established on the quarter- acre lot when the couple moved in as second owners in 1999. Brick paths and patios, parterre gardens and brick walls define both interior and exterior space.
“Cozy ” is how Amy describes the feeling the walls give their garden.
And, indeed, these formal, historic-looking structures do create cozy garden rooms. Two sets of walls define the spaces. Four walls enclose the back garden, and the walls of the garage, house and family room
addition together create two courtyards within the walled garden.
Just off the kitchen is an intimate plant-filled dining area with a brick floor, ivy-covered walls and a solid wood gate that leads to a courtyard driveway. Pots of herbs, annuals, stone architectural artifacts and sculpture, as well as candlestick collections, shelves filled with vintage wine bottles and pyramidal boxwoods give geometry, artistry and warmth to an area used regularly for lunch and dinner.
Down brick steps to the wide lawn in the garden, a perennial border flanks the north wall. “We use tall plants so the dogs won’t run into it,” says Amy as two smooth-coat collies romp and play hide-and-seek. Plants include hummingbird-attracting monarda, original hybrid tea roses and phlox, clematis and native black-eyed Susans. “I used to keep to a pink and purple palette, but now some yellow has crept in,” she says. She also tried delphiniums, tough in Baltimore heat and doubly difficult around heat-absorbing brick walls.
A line of four square gardens, each defined by trim, dog-friendly Hoogendorn Japanese holly hedges, stretches across the west wall, lined with a sculpted Leyland cypress hedge as a green backdrop and punctuated by a neighbor’s overhanging maroon Japanese maple. A Chippendale teak bench and Victorian fountain stand at center to continue the formal geometry.
Where a massive yew bush succumbed to winter blizzards on the south end, a variegated ‘Hakuro-Nishiki’ Japanese willow lights up against a hemlock hedge backdrop. And after disease claimed original billowing English boxwoods on the south terrace, the couple expanded the patio and low walls to the garden. A pair of espaliered apple trees and a tightly clipped, tall euonymus hedge on the walls of the house now hug seated guests.“Every year brings opportunity,” Amy Matis says, a true gardener embracing change.
The other morning, as we hurried to get out the door for school, I attempted to brush the morass that is my fourth- grader’s hair. Ethan tensed and bristled in that way that only 9-year-old boys can. He rolled his eyes dramatically.
“Why do I need to brush my hair?” he asked, aggrieved.
“Because you need to look nice for school,” I answered straightforwardly.
“But I thought it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. You always say it only matters what you look like on the inside,” he complained.
Well, touché, my boy. Touché.
I paused for a moment to think how best to explain the distinction. But secretly I was thrilled to know that he had absorbed the lesson we’ve been so pointed in conveying about the insignificance of external appearance.
That’s because Ethan has always been unusually small. He was born a little bit early, weighing just shy of 6 pounds, due to a somewhat mysterious condition called IUGR, or intrauterine growth restriction. Getting him to grow during his first few years was torturous. I held my breath at every weigh-in and familiarized myself with every weight gain trick in the book. One handout from his doctor’s office read like some sort of diet parody. “Never eat vegetables plain!” it warns ominously. “Add butter, margarine, cream sauce, hollandaise, cheese sauce, salad dressings, sour cream and mayonnaise.” (Not all at once, I hope.)
“Plain crackers should have cream cheese, cheese spread, peanut butter, jelly or margarine to increase calories,” it goes on. It recommends canned fruit in heavy syrup over fresh. And my personal favorite, “Choose meats breaded, fried and sauteed in oil or butter.” (Well, who wouldn’t?) There’s also a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter milkshake that has—I kid you not—1,070 calories a cup. And that’s seen as a good thing.
But I was unprepared to learn that having a small child carries an unspoken stigma in Momville. On the parenting message board I used to frequent, it was standard practice to return from well visits and post your baby’s “stats.” And though few might admit it out loud, ironically, in a culture where thinness is obsessively prized by adults, when it comes to babies, bigger is most definitely seen as better. “Isabella is in the 95th percentile for weight AGAIN,” a mother would crow. Those damned percentiles felt like scores, as if a baby in the 90th percentile for weight was somehow being given a higher grade than one in the 30th. The mothers of babies who were “only” in the 50th percentile or less often posted nervously about what could be wrong with their children. It was hard not to feel defensive, or make self-mocking jokes about our featherweights. My son finally hit 20 pounds at his two-year well check. “Is there such a thing as a 20-pound 2-year old?” I asked the pediatrician, only half kidding.
I know where this comes from, of course. In the beginning, when they bring so little else to the table, our babies’ size can feel like the only tangible, measurable manifestation of the quality of our parenting. Those who grow big and, well, fat, are clearly doing fine, their plump bodies a physical emblem that all is well. And those like Ethan? Their charts are stamped with the gloomy “failure to thrive” label, with all the implications therein.
I watched with great interest, as both a mother and a journalist who’s written about science and health, as the doctors walked the fine line between “He’s just small” and “There’s something amiss.” We tried desperately not to intervene unless it was truly warranted. But one test led to another and another. Poor little—literally!—Ethan was poked and prodded and schlepped to myriad doctors, one all the way in Philadelphia. At 14 months, after an endoscopy suggested he might have a rare form of food allergy, Ethan was put on a so-called “elemental” diet. For two months, he wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything—nothing—but a foul smelling prescription formula. We propped him in his high chair that Thanksgiving with books and toys, hoping he might not notice the feast he couldn’t take part in.
For one horrific week I have mostly blocked out of my memory, he had a feeding tube in his nose. Until a doctor at Hopkins, one of the most respected pediatric allergists in the country, stopped the madness. He was certain Ethan had been misdiagnosed. “There are only so many ways you can torture an essentially healthy child,” the doctor told us in his measured, reassuring tones. “Let him eat.”
So in our case, it was all a bad dream. Though doctors still monitor his growth carefully, Ethan is perfectly healthy. He doesn’t have food allergies. He’s not growth hormone deficient. He’s just very small and thin. Like lots of kids. Like lots of adults. It’s nothing for us to be ashamed of. Or apologize for. Or feel the need to explain defensively to random strangers who ask about it. (“Oh my!” said a well-meaning mother at the pool, eyeing my two boys, who are almost exactly three years apart but very close in size. “You sure had them close together, didn’t you?” Well, no. I didn’t, actually. Not at all.)
There’s nothing wrong with Ethan. The vessel my amazing, precious son came in is just…small. Not bad. Or diminished. Or lesser. He’s anything but failing to thrive in the things that matter.
Saccharine aphorisms are hardly my strong suit, but there is one I repeat over and over, like a mantra. When it comes to Ethan, I always say, we like to focus on the things about him that are big: his heart and his brain.
I’m so relieved to know that despite all the noise of daily living, the multiple lessons we try to impart about everything from morality to dental health to playing fair, that he really has gotten the message that his size doesn’t matter. Although I’m not going to back down on its corollary: He still needs to brush his hair.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared inThe New York Times, People, Slate and,USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
A burning philosophical question has been plaguing Savvy: why should food trucks and fashion trucks have all the fun? Enter Side Dish. Originally started on a whim by Lauren Wilson and Carin Lazarus to sell Lazarus’ grandmother’s vintage jewelry, the mobile shop sells baubles old and new when it pops up in different neighborhoods. Proud to highlight local artisans such as metalworker Tracey Beale, Side Dish keeps its prices affordable, from under $25 to $150. “If you’re buying a neon bangle this year that you won’t wear next, you don’t want to spend a fortune,” says Wilson. Savvy advice. http://www.sidedishmobile.com
Brian Boston opened the Highland Inn with retirement on his mind. Not that the energetic chef, who has operated the Milton Inn for 16 years, plans to hang up his knives. Rather, he wanted a place to call his own. Boston put $4 million into purchasing the farm and renovating the 120-year-old farmhouse top to bottom. And he’s got big plans for the place. The four-acre property, he says, “is all usable space,” with a pond and patio, and he’s already booking up with weddings and other special events.While Boston will stick with what he does best—fine dining—the Highland Inn has a less formal approach than his previous endeavors (his first job as a chef was at the Brass Elephant). The low country menu features shrimp and grits and braised short ribs, along with craft beers and cocktails, and a 150-bottle wine list. Boston hired Mark Davis (formerly of Baltimore’s Ten Ten) as executive chef and will continue to run the kitchen up in Sparks himself. “I just renewed the lease,” he says. “I have another 25 years at the Milton Inn.” 12857 Highland Road, Highland, 443-276-3202, http://www.highlandinnrestaurant.com
Before my recent trip to London, more than one person expressed mild horror that a food lover such as myself would have to endure all of that so-called “bad British food” while on holiday. These well-meaning souls need not have worried about me. Sure, the cuisine of England has not always enjoyed a stellar reputation, but the fact is, traditional British cooking in modern London is nothing short of extraordinary.
I particularly love the concept of the traditional Sunday lunch. Think of it as a leisurely, less fussy holiday meal, typically featuring a roast meat, a Yorkshire pudding and several vegetable sides. It’s the very best kind of comfort food. The Sunday lunch I’ve created here is colorful, filling and comes together easily, leaving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the mini-feast.
Because the spatchcocked chicken is flattened, it cooks evenly and fairly quickly, resulting in a very crispy skin and super-juicy meat. The carrots and parsnips can be cooked at the same time as the chicken, and while everything is in the oven, that quintessentially British dish, minted mushy peas, can be whipped up on the stovetop. Meanwhile, the beet and watercress salad can be composed ahead of time, and served either before or after the main course.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than feasting on this impressive-yet-simple and flavorful English-inspired meal.
PARTY WITH STYLE ON OSCAR NIGHT:
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Hello, handsome! (Sorry, George. This time we mean Oscar.) As consummate cinephiles who call the Academy Awards our favorite night of the year, we’re dedicating this drink to Tinseltown’s most eligible bachelor—the sleek, statuesque Golden Boy himself. Year after year, Oscar is as handsome and captivating as ever…without a single dose of Bro-tox. Of course, we can’t leave Mr. Clooney completely out in space, so we’ve incorporated the screen idol’s very own Casamigos Blanco Tequila into this refined cocktail, perfect for any red carpet affair or a night at home watching classics from the Criterion Collection.
1 1⁄2 ounces Casamigos Blanco Tequila
1⁄2 ounce St. Germain liqueur
1⁄2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse liqueur
Juice from medium Clementine
Juice from 1⁄8 medium lemon
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass packed with ice. Stir gently for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail couple and garnish with a slice of Clementine rind.
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Tend for a Cause.
Photo courtesy of Lululemon
Esther Collinetti, REV co-owner and Lululemon Ambassador.
For years we’ve happily subjected ourselves to tough-love trainer Esther Collinetti’s self-proclaimed “aggressive coaching style” (think: equal parts profanity and positive reinforcement) at the top gyms around town. Now she’s branching out—with friend and fellow fitness fanatic Rick Zambrano—to open Rev Cycle Studio at McHenry Row. Similar to uber-trendy Soul Cycle in NYC, Rev is a Spinning-focused facility that aims to give both expert and novice cyclists a total body workout, both on and off the bike. We love Rev60 Zen, an intense 40-minute ride followed by 20 minutes of yoga. Scared? Don’t be. “You are in complete control of your resistance. You’re the master of your own workout,” says Collinetti, who offers an equally friendly fee structure, $10 to $18 per class. “We want you to come in and pay as you sweat,” she says. “We’re not worried; we know you’ll come back.”
A DRUNKEN MONKEY BITTEN BY A SCORPION. That’s how the ancient Buddhists described a restless mind. And that was long before email, traffic jams and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) syndrome. These days, everybody’s stressed. Hyper-stressed. Too damn stressed. And, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s probably killing you. Study after study shows that stress increases your risk of everything from heart attack and stroke to obesity and infertility. (Sorry, are we stressing you out right now?) So what’s an overworked, under appreciated, drunken monkey supposed to do? Revoke your membership in the Fight or Flight Club—and start meditating, pronto. (We even teach you how, page 47!) Plus, try one of the funky, new relaxation treatments we tested out around town. Upgrade: the hangover feels a lot like Enlightenment.
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If rave reviews and a resume that boasts stints at Le Bec-Fin and the Rittenhouse Tavern don’t make you want to drive the 90 minutes to try out Laurel, a hot new French American restaurant, then perhaps chef/ owner Nick Elmi’s status as a finalist on the 11th season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” will seal the deal. An intimate (24-seat) BYOB, Laurel incorporates sophistication, elegance and fine French dining with locally sourced food and friendly service. New to Philly’s popular “Restaurant Row” in East Passyunk (by the famed Italian Market) the sweet little spot features a four-course meal concept that begins with starters like torn New Jersey scallops with Jonagold apple, sea lettuce and razor clam and culminates with decadent desserts like caramelized white chocolate pudding with shortbread, plum and almond for dessert. The appetizers and entrees in between? Marvelous, mon cher. 1617 East Passyunk Ave., http://www.restaurantlaurel.com
The latest jewel in the Bagby Restaurant Group’s collection, the semi-precious Cunningham’s, opened just before holiday mayhem set in. This was good timing for the restful spot in Towson City Center. The easy menu and drinks can be a pick-me up or wind-me-down, even as the Nordstrom and Macy’s bags languish at the coat check.
Owned by Sinclair Broadcasting magnate David Smith, Cunningham’s hits a sweet spot with several elements that characterize other Bagby properties (a la Fleet Street Kitchen and TEN TEN) including a local ethos, a chef who trained on a working farm and fresh interior design by Jane Smith, who also happens to be David’s wife. The ladies who lunch are just as likely to be wearing power pantsuits as cashmere ponchos, and the evening scene ranges from after-work quaffers to date night.
Classically modern. Jane Smith is a self-trained designer who has managed to unite the restaurant group’s properties while infusing each with its own personality. Here, tall bar chairs and a swooping Alice- in-Wonderland-scaled banquette in the dining room are upholstered in a peacock blue art nouveau-meets-modern fabric, while dining chairs are clad in mist gray velvet—buttoned up the back like a little girl’s party dress.
Husband David joined slabs of wood from the couple’s farm to make the long communal counter that faces the cook line beneath a curtain of glittering crystal. Most striking are the oversized light fixtures in the dining room, billowing pale orange fabric lit from within like fragile Chinese lantern flowers.
Pasta perfect. Chef Chris Allen grew up in rural Pennsylvania and fondly remembers pork and sauerkraut dinners at his grandmother’s house. While there are no immediate plans for kraut on Cunningham’s menu, there’s a pork belly with shrimp dumplings, an apt
example of Allen’s new American hybrid style.
Allen honed his farm-to-table cred while living next door to the chickens and pigs at the Glasbern Inn in Fogelsville, Pa. Allen has a particular passion for cooking pasta. He uses fresh noodles from the powerful Arcobaleno extruder that can spew up to 10 pounds an hour for Cunningham’s house-made offerings.
Thrill of the grill. An impressive line of cooks—busy shucking oysters, plating pasta and arranging displays of charcuterie in the open kitchen—is visible from several angles. At one end is a wood-fired grill where a dry-aged tomahawk bone-in rib-eye (weighing in at more than 2 pounds) might be sizzling alongside a maitake mush- room “steak” charred at its frilled edges, or a Maine lobster. A selection of flatbreads topped with meatballs, creamed spinach or pickled shallots are baked in the nearby brick oven.
Baker’s dozen. In the bakery below the restaurant, John Aversa cranks out loaves for all the Bagby properties. Aversa, whose credentials include stints at Patisserie Poupon, Atwater’s and most recently The Breadery in Catonsville, brings an artisan’s touch to his baguettes, boules and loaves, which will also be available at Cunningham’s Bakery and Café, scheduled to open early this year. The casual spot will serve sandwiches and breakfast goods, caffeinated by Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis.
Curated Cuvée. Bagby beverage manager Tim Riley’s “triple threat” approach means equal attention to cocktails, wine and beer. Cunningham’s beer is mostly local with Stillwater, Union and Brewer’s Art on tap. Cocktails range from the Brooklynite—a rum-based drink adapted from an early 1960s Trader Vic’s concoction—to Cap and Bells, named after a W.B. Yeats poem in a nod to its Irish whiskey base. Riley is especially proud of Cunningham Cuvée, a Grenache-Syrah blend he created last year at a vineyard in France.
“We were a stone’s throw from Chateauneuf-du-Pape,” he says. “The wine has the deep, dark flavor from 100-year-old Rhone vines.” The wine will be available at all Bagby Group restaurants, but Riley says he first envisioned it with
Cunningham’s wood-grilled cuisine.
Bottom line. Pretty as a storybook with an adventurous menu to match. 1 Olympic Place, Towson. 410-339-7730, http://www.cunninghams towson.com
No one would ever call Savvy an urban hipster. Yet that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate cutting-edge fashion. So she was entranced when she stepped into a graffiti-walled shop in Mount Vernon and met its charming owner, Daniel Davis who opened For Rent Shoes to be “a destination.” And you’ll be buying, not renting (the name’s an inside joke). Whether it’s Sperry Top-Siders hand-painted with the Maryland flag from Davis’s own line, Alexander McQueen-esque club shoes by Manikin or wild silver-mirrored shoes by Nat-2, you’ll be the only one for miles around sporting these looks. Davis has an exclusivity contract with his suppliers. Some of the shoes you won’t even find in the Big Apple. Accessories, T-shirts and art exhibits round out the offerings in a store that’s also a performance space. 515 Cathedral Street, 443-873-9928, http://www.forrentshoes.com
Scoozi (a variant on the Italian word for “excuse me”) in the Radisson Cross Keys hopes to beckon both hotel guests and neighborhood folks in search of a casual meal. An exhibition kitchen thrust into the dining room, with a communal dining table nearby, lends an informal air to the place. “When you have company at your house everyone ends up in the kitchen,” says Donna McCulloch, food and beverage manager. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Scoozi features a brick pizza oven that cranks out thin crust pies, plus pastas, salads, entrees, sandwiches and burgers. Don’t miss the decadent desserts, including a flourless chocolate s’mores cake, ricotta cheesecake with lemon curd and a root beer float made with Taharka Brothers ice cream. And if you fall in love with a piece of art on the wall? “We’ll call over a consultant from the Merritt and Renaissance Fine Arts Gallery to discuss it with you,” says McCulloch. 5100 Falls Road, 410-435-0101.
Photograph by David Stuck
STYLE: How did you get picked for Man Caves?
RABIL: The producer Matthew Stafford has kids who play lacrosse—they love it. One day they were running around at a family function pretending to be me. So Matt was like, ‘Who is this Paul Rabil kid?’ He looked me up online and called my agent to see if I’d be game.
So you’re basically a superhero to small children?
[Laughs] No, it’s all about what you’re into. I did the same thing when I was little, running around pretending Michael Jordan. I did the buzzer, the countdown, the trick shot—all in my back yard.
What’s your favorite part of the Man Cave design?
The bar. The marble is beautiful—and it’s great for entertaining. There’s a door that comes off its hinges to become a ping pong table. And I can just push a button and a Pioneer turntable comes right out of the bar so I can DJ.
What kind of music do you listen to before a big game?
I used to come out in football mode, listening to upbeat, aggressive-style music. But as I’ve gotten more sophisticated as an offensive player, I realized that I need to be more calm and relaxed like a quarterback. Sometimes I’ll just kick back and listen to Beethoven.
Can you dance?
Yes! Well, actually, it’s probably one of those things everyone thinks they’re good at but aren’t—like golf.
Any chance you’ll pull a “Jacoby Jones” and do Dancing with the Stars?
We’ve talked about it. But the timing has to be right. There’s a fine line between growing the sport in the public sphere and continuing to excel as a player. The pro game is what I continue to value the most. So I’m focused on my work in on the field.
Then I guess the next big dance for you will be your wedding in January. Tell me something about your fiancée Kelly [Berger].
She plays lacrosse for the U.S. women’s national team. She’s extremely responsible, loving and very family oriented. Things I always looked for in a girl.
Does she like the Man Cave?
She does. It’s funny, the ladies all love the AstroTurf wallpaper. I would have thought it was too gnarly of a texture. But they love it.
So are you truly lacrosse’s sexiest man alive, as The New York Times suggested?
I guess I try to express a different style. Lacrosse used to be associated with pink polo shirts, khakis, white tennis shoes and shaggy hair. I’ve got long hair but I like more of a professional, eclectic look. It’s a tough thing with opportunity. You have to seize it, but it can always be looked at as seeking the limelight. To me, the most important thing is growing the sport.
What do you love most about lacrosse?
What really hooked me was the personality and lifestyle of the game. It’s got the power of a team sport, the contact of football and the speed of soccer. But the individuality is unmatched. There’s no other sport where you get to have your own stick, lace your own pocket and dye your own head. It’s just a special kind of ownership that captures young kids and encourages them to be unique. That’s why some of us never put the stick down.
Read “The Business of Lacrosse” featuring Paul Rabil. >>
I vividly remember the day a fellow classmate at Old Bethpage Grade School on Long Island paid me what felt like the ultimate compliment: She told me my mother was pretty.
I have no idea what about the peculiar elementary school economy made having someone compliment your mother so valuable, but it thrilled my second-grader’s ears nonetheless. Perhaps it was the idea that when you’re a girl, your mother is a projection of your future self, a nod to who you might one day be. My mom was older than most of my friends’ moms. She was strict and old-fashioned, with a sense of style probably forged as a high school student in the 1940s, not as a hippie in the ’60s, when most of my friends’ parents had come of age. I was elated that somebody thought she was cool and, by extension, that maybe I was, too.
I am now the very same age that my mother was when I was in second grade. And just like her, I am easily a decade older than many of the parents of my kids’ friends. Maybe it’s not surprising, then, that in the weeks leading up to my recent 45th birthday—the one that appears to have inspired Facebook to start showing me ads for Metamucil in my feed—I found myself in the throes of a crisis of confidence: Am I a cool-looking mom?
It’s not that my boys care in the slightest. They barely bat an eye whether I’m dressed to the nines for a black-tie event or wearing yoga pants and Ugg knockoffs to take them to school. As for their own fashion sense, they are still in that blissful place where they dutifully put on whatever I hand them to wear each morning without so much as a word. (Except that my 6-year-old inexplicably refuses to wear jeans, but that’s a whole other story.)
But truth be told, I was starting to rely on the yoga pants and Uggs uniform just a little too much. Between being a stay-at-home mom for several years and then working part-time from home, I hadn’t regularly seen the inside of an office for at least 10 years. I’d lost all sense of what people were wearing any more, except for what I saw on the soccer sidelines and at Hebrew school pickup. I could name scores of Pokemon characters and sing the Phineas and Ferb theme song, but had let my subscription to InStyle lapse.
It is one of the oldest clichés in the book, but parenting is an exquisitely other-focused endeavor. It is far too easy, especially as a stay-at-home mom, to lose yourself in the shuffle, to focus so intently on making sure the kids are taken care of that you just do whatever’s quick and expedient for yourself with the scraps of time and energy left behind. In the early days, I walked around in a sleep-deprived haze, my clothes often quite literally sacrificed on the altar of new motherhood, with its messy stew of bodily fluids.
These days, getting two elementary schoolers out the door on time every morning, with the Pigpen-like blizzard of lunchboxes, gloves, field trip permission slips and violin cases, often takes just about everything I’ve got. Makeup? Hahahahaha. Hair done in some fashion other than twisted up and secured into a clip? Not if it means not having time to make coffee, buster. Sometimes I actually eat their leftovers for breakfast. I know. I know.
Granted, I have friends who appear not to have let motherhood cramp their style at all; friends who still look entirely put together at the grocery store and Ultimate Play Zone. And it’s not like I was ever a super fashionista before I had my kids. But I got by. And then in one sudden, horrific instant last fall, it dawned on me how far I’d inadvertently let things slide into momhagdom. It was like those anxiety dreams where you suddenly find yourself naked on stage, giving a speech to a packed lecture hall.
So I decided to do something about it.
My 45th birthday gift from my husband was an overhaul of my sorely neglected wardrobe. At the suggestion of my super stylish friend Beth, I made an appointment with the personal stylist at Nordstrom. (It’s free! And there’s no obligation to buy a thing.)
I spent a gloriously self-indulgent morning with a lovely, effortlessly chic stylist named Stacey Jones, who gently helped me try to rediscover my sartorial confidence. It was mostly fun, if at times a little overwhelming, in large part because it involved spending a lot of time looking at myself half naked in a dressing room mirror. (Note to self: Gym!). I ended up buying several cool pieces, including my very first pair of riding boots and a trendy (but non-intimidatingly so) color-block sweater. And Stacey firmly insisted, despite my protests to the contrary, that I really could wear skinny jeans after all, so I might just love her forever.
I know they’re just clothes, but as the new year turns our thoughts to renewal and rebooting, I can’t help but think that it really helps you to feel better when you look better. Years ago, I helped TV personality Carson Kressley write his first book, a men’s fashion manual called Off the Cuff. And
Carson says that it’s OK to care about how you look without feeling like you’re being superficial. That when you look pulled together and feel good about what you’re wearing—regardless of whether you bought it at Saks or Target—it can often be the first step in empowering yourself.
Of course, there’s always the kids to keep you in line. Emboldened by my burgeoning transformation, I asked my boys a question at my birthday dinner.
“So do you think Mommy looks 45?” I asked. I was fishing. I can’t lie.
Six-year-old Alec sized me up. “I think you look younger,” he said brightly. “Like maybe 43.”
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
Photograph by Christopher goodney
In Paul Rabil’s large, tanned hands, the half-pint glass of beer might as well be the queen of England’s teacup.
Shortly after 6 on a Tuesday evening, the poster-boy of professional lacrosse grabs a bar stool at The Wharf Rat in Fells Point, not far from his Canton home. He tells the man tending bar he likes lighter beers, and then gets served a Barking Squirrel, which he sips approvingly. His hair, brown and shoulder-length, is still damp from the shower he took after his workout. His left foot pushes down on the floor to sturdy the muscular 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame on the stool. On top of Rabil’s head sits a fitted, flat-brimmed, blue baseball cap, innocuous enough except for what’s emblazoned on the front—the logo of energy drink manufacturer and part-time daredevil impresario Red Bull, which has been his corporate sponsor for more than three years.
It’s not just Red Bull that has put money into the 28-year-old midfielder from Gaithersburg. Rabil has endorsement deals with EFX, makers of athletic wristbands, and funky Nooka watches. He has an eponymous line of apparel and on-the-field lacrosse gear, including lacrosse handles and heads (the lacrosse stick, for we non-laxers) with the Warrior brand, owned by deep-pocketed New Balance. Bill Belichick, the sullen-faced New England Patriots coach, has been photographed wearing a T-shirt from Rabil’s Warrior line. (We hear he’s a fan.)
Widely regarded as the finest player in the sport, Rabil plays in both pro leagues—the outdoor Major League Lacrosse (for the Boston Cannons) and the indoor National Lacrosse League (for the Philadelphia Wings). He was the top pick in the 2008 MLL collegiate draft and earns an annual salary of $65,000—in a sport where the average income for pro players is about 20 grand a year. (The old adage about not quitting your day job holds true in professional lacrosse; Rabil plays alongside stockbrokers, sales reps and other guys with typical nine-to-five jobs.)
But Rabil’s life—and net worth—are about to skyrocket. By the end of 2013, Rabil was sponsored by about a half-dozen companies, according to Ira Rainess, his Baltimore-based advisor, who has also repped Cal Ripken Jr. and Ray Lewis. And over the next several years, these sponsorship deals will net him a couple million dollars, making Paul Rabil the first professional lacrosse player to earn seven figures.
While Rabil’s forthcoming financial milestone is decidedly a product of his own likeability and success—including two NCAA lacrosse championships with Johns Hopkins University, a gold medal with Team USA in the world lacrosse championships in 2010, and a 2011 MLL championship in with the Boston Cannons—he’s gotten a boost from the sport’s surging popularity.
Lax is the fastest-growing sport in the last 10 years, according Baltimore-based US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body. More than 720,000 players at the under-15, high school, collegiate and professional levels play the game, compared to roughly the 250,000 counted in 2001, the inaugural season of Major League Lacrosse. Long confined to New England and the mid-Atlantic states, the sport is now spreading to the South, the Midwest and West, with clinics popping up in Louisiana, Utah, Colorado and California.
“Over the last 30 years, it has become a very, very cool game,” says Michael French, co-owner of the Philadelphia Wings, one of the nine teams in the indoor National Lacrosse League founded in 1987. “We’ll go and play against the Mammoth in Colorado and they’ll have 18,000 people at the game. It’s no longer a sport of the Northeast.”
Those attendance figures have marketing and product development teams spinning at some of the biggest brands around the county.
“Their research is telling them to get into the game now,” says Rainess, who himself played lacrosse at Pikesville High School. Just one gem of a statistic: A recent Sports and Fitness Industry Association survey found that 43 percent of lacrosse players come from households with annual incomes higher than $100,000.
“It’s a market where there’s plenty of disposable income to buy products—and lacrosse fans are very enthusiastic about the game,” Rainess continues. “In the next two or three years, you’re going to see a lot of companies investing in this sport.”
Note to Under Armour: put your chips in now before some other apparel company or shoe brand ends up owning the sport at the professional level.
Interestingly, Paul Rabil—a middle-class kid whose mom is a Catholic school art teacher and dad is a sales rep for a printing company in Washington, D.C.—was more excited about soccer and basketball up until he hit high school. He didn’t even touch a lacrosse stick before sixth grade, when a neighbor invited him to play.
“It’s an extremely technical sport, so I was behind,” Rabil says. “I was always sort of ahead athletically, with my size, but I struggled with it, and wanted to quit, because I was so far along in basketball and soccer.”
Instead of quitting, he doubled down and went to DeMatha High School to play lacrosse exclusively.
“I was the biggest lacrosse rat you could imagine,” he says. “For me, it was all part of growing up. As a kid, you look for ways to express yourself—and there’s nothing more comfortable than doing so on a field for me.”
During the season, Rabil practices twice a week and he lifts weights and shoots around every day. Over the summer he hosts lacrosse camps where he coaches 50 high school-age, offensive players he hand-selects.
Off the field, Rabil also works to grow the sport he loves by bringing it to the next generation. Through the foundation that bears his name, for instance, Rabil, in conjunction with Warrior, bought all the lacrosse gear and equipment for the Baltimore Lab School—and he personally provided coaching and consulting—to help develop the school’s first lacrosse team.
“Within a year they had men’s and women’s varsity programs with full schedules,” says Rabil, who has a strong affinity for helping kids with learning differences. Rabil has auditory processing disorder and his little sister, now in the fashion business in Boca Raton, has dyslexia and attended the Lab School of Washington, where he offers an annual scholarship. “We’re also working with the Jemicy School now to help redesign their uniforms and strengthen their lacrosse program. They really welcomed me with open arms,” he says.
Rabil’s passion for his sport—and his desire to pass it on—are palpable, but the athlete is in nearly equal measure a business strategist. Described by Rainess as a “very intellectual and professional” guy, the political science major who graduated from Hopkins with a 3.5 GPA and a minor in entrepreneurship meets with his advisor every single week on the top floor of a downtown Baltimore office building. There they talk over the possibility of Rabil endorsing different products that companies send in, and manage current sponsorship deals together. Before the deal with Warrior was etched in stone and the Rabil Collection officially rolled out, the two of them spent 18 months poring over the particulars, with Rabil using much of that time to test out the on-the-field gear.
“I really take pride in the entrepreneurial spirit and being a part of what my sponsors are doing,” Rabil says. “I don’t just want to wear a logo, I want to help grow and build brands.”
Of course, in many ways, Rabil is the brand.
“We’re looking to build up a Paul Rabil experience, or platform,” says Erin Kane, who heads up an internal team entirely dedicated to the Brand of Rabil at New York City-based marketing agency Octagon, where he signed a few months ago.
“Warrior is trying to replicate what Michael Jordan did with Nike,” says Howe Burch, executive vice president and managing director of TBC advertising agency in Fells Point, who has also spent time in the sports marketing departments of Fila and Reebok. “They’ve built a collection around Rabil, and hopefully that collection will endure long after he stops playing.”
Big shoes to fill indeed, but the man behind the lacrosse helmet—a man whose biceps are louder than the decibel level of his voice in a crowded bar—doesn’t get caught up in thinking of himself professional lacrosse’s prime-time player, even if The New York Times once crowned him the guy who will make lacrosse sexy to a national audience.
“That’s one of those things I don’t really think about,” Rabil says. “I get pegged on it occasionally, and I’m cool with it, but I really, truly do believe that lacrosse as a sport will one day be a mainstream game, and the growth will be unbelievable.”
Indeed, as more players like Rabil sign endorsement deals and present a version of lacrosse divorced from the perception of the college-age, beer-guzzling “lax bro,” Rainess predicts other companies will take the pro game seriously and gravitate to it.
“The growth of this sport is not going to stop,” says MLL commissioner David Gross. “It’s been growing at a 10 percent clip for the past decade. And once people get exposed to it, they get hooked.”
Read STYLE’s Q&A with Paul Rabil here. >>
Highlandtown Gallery is the brainchild of interior designer Felicia Zannino-Baker, who grew up in the venerable ‘hood and has been promoting local artists all her life. In this airy space, recently renovated from 2011 earthquake ruin, Savvy swooned over steampunk art by Maury Dickson, metal collages by Ed Gross, intricate ink drawings by Debbie Lynn Zwiebach, whimsical brushstrokes by Maria Cavacos and even jewelry. (The coffee and pastries didn’t hurt, either.) Plus, we’re in love with Valentine—swoon—the owner’s nephew who helps run the space. Exhibitions rotate bimonthly. Open Thursdays through Saturdays. 248 S. Conkling St., 410-327-7035, http://www.magnoliadesignsllc.com/HG
Photography by david stuck
Wholesale manager, A People United
St. Paul’s School for Girls class of 1998
A People United is known to Mount Vernon shoppers for its tempting storefront, but more than 80 percent of its business is wholesale. Kimberli Lagree-Simmons oversees the distribution of its Baltimore-designed clothing collections to high-end reps. A People United is a socially responsible business; the clothing designs are made in Nepal by workers earning a living wage. A portion of sales supports the Nepalese Santi School where A People United provides scholarships and helps steer educational policy reform and teacher training.
For Lagree-Simmons, who’s been a model, fashion show producer and TV host, her job brings together her passions for humanitarianism, diversity and design.
She began at St. Paul’s when she was just 9 years old. Her public school recommended that her mother expand her daughter’s academic opportunities by sending her to private school, which she did through the Baltimore Educational Scholastic Trust (BEST). She earned an additional full scholarship, was the first middle schooler chosen for the high school dance team, and was active in student government. She co-coordinated the first statewide diversity conference with the National Association of Independent Schools.
“Because St. Paul’s embraced diversity, I learned to walk into situations with an open mind—which opens you up to so many opportunities you might otherwise miss,” she says. “That was the most important thing I learned there that I hold with me today.”
Kathleen Cusack Lyon
Kathleen Cusack Lyon
Co-owner, The Senator and The Charles Theaters
Friends School class of 1997
When Kathleen Cusack Lyon looks back on her time at The Friends School, what she remembers most was that the school instilled the ideas of tolerance, love and understanding at a time when most kids are only interested in what they’re doing on Saturday night.
“They taught us about living simply and to change the world,” she says. “It was a very outward-looking philosophy that very much asked ‘what are you going to do to make the world better?’ which is really neat to hear as a teenager when you’re at the peak of your self-absorption.”
Lyon went on to a career as a lawyer, but left to join her father, who owned The Charles, in the movie theater business. Shortly after she quit her day job, The Senator went to auction. After acquiring the iconic theater, the co-owners spent four years navigating the oft-muddy waters of historic restoration. The landmark opened in October 2013 and now features three new theaters, which should ensure its stability well into the future.
Though any business can feel exhausting at times (“people think we sit around waxing eloquent about movies all day, but it’s really more about popcorn and paperwork”), Lyon says she still works hard to live by some of the principles she learned at Friends—mainly to listen to others and treat them fairly. “I can’t be everyone’s friend, but I feel I’ve succeeded if people see a decision I make as reasonable if it’s not popular.”
Founder & CEO, Intaba, Inc.
Boys’ Latin class of 1988
Murdock Henderson’s life story sounds like that of an over-achiever scholar athlete. Henderson transferred to Boys’ Latin from public school at the encouragement of his lacrosse coach and saw the BL team to a championship title. He graduated magna cum laude from his M.S., M.A. and doctoral degrees. While riding his bike from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to celebrate his 40th birthday, he decided to start a nonprofit.
What makes Henderson’s story unique is that he’s been deaf since birth.
Henderson explains that he communicated with spoken English at Boys’ Latin. “I’m a longtime survivor and able to adapt in different situations,” he explains. “It was definitely a challenge to communicate and there were some cultural barriers to overcome. [But] I think that’s led me to where I am.”
Today Henderson is an adjunct associate professor at Gallaudet University and active father of two, but his heart is in Intaba, a nonprofit he began after a trip to South Africa in 2007 showed him the substandard opportunities available to deaf children in the developing world. Intaba raises funds and partners with local organizations in countries including China and Guyana to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing to overcome barriers and improve their quality of life.
On that solo bike ride, Henderson realized attention-grabbing sporting events were a great way to raise money. Hence, this summer he will be paddling the Amazon River—more than 3,000 miles—in hopes of raising $1 million for the cause. He doesn’t see his deafness as an issue and even quips that “most people would be scared of what they’re hearing in the Amazon!” Yet his hope is “to spread the word that people with disabilities can overcome anything.”
Gilman class of 1994
When Judah Adashi premiered his composition “Inner City” at the Walters Art Museum last November (a piece commissioned by the museum) his first-grade teacher from Gilman School was in attendance. He also keeps up with his old history teacher, whom he credits with piquing his interest in social justice and civil rights issues, and fondly recalls his high school music teacher.
Adashi teaches at the Peabody Conservatory, but his primary passion is composing classical chamber music. His compositions have been performed throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. He describes “Inner City” as “a love song to Baltimore” that blends classical music with recordings of sounds collected around the city. Although he knows Gilman’s reputation is for academics and athletics, he found it a nurturing environment for an artsy kid.
“It was an incredibly formative time in terms of what I do now and who I am personally and professionally,” he states. He directed and sang with the student a capella group and did musical direction and played piano for theater productions including his most memorable, a performance of “West Side Story” his junior year.
“In high school, music became something communal, something I shared with other people,” he says, “and that’s really what I do now.”
Founder and CEO, My Sister’s Circle
Maryvale class of 1989
Heather Harvison gets to impact young women every day. Through My Sister’s Circle, the nonprofit Harvison founded in 2000, she matches at-risk young girls in Baltimore City middle schools with mentors who help them navigate the difficult years of adolescence. The organization also provides enrichment opportunities such as summer camp and college and career counseling. In many ways, Harvison is honoring the lessons she says she learned at Maryvale.
“Maryvale did teach the gospel of social justice,” she says. “I always say I was given so much love and support and guidance through Maryvale and my family, that I, in turn, want to pay that forward and offer that opportunity—those resources and that network of connections—to my girls.”
Harvison, who describes her young self as “on the shy side,” says she grew in Maryvale’s close-knit environment where young women were encouraged to be leaders. She was the lead in a school play and worked on the student newspaper. She excelled in her public speaking class where students were made to put money into a jar if they uttered “Um” or “like.”
Harvison started My Sister’s Circle when some volunteer work exposed her to the need for young, urban girls to have positive role models,. To date, 130 girls have benefited from My Sister’s Circle programs and a new affiliate recently opened in Dallas. One of the first participants just graduated from Temple University and is entering Teach For America.
Melissa North Grant
Melissa North Grant
Marine Biologist, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES) Horn Point Oyster Hatchery
Garrison Forest School class of 1997
Melissa North Grant does not have a glamorous job. It’s often cold and wet. There’s frequently mud. But as a researcher at UMCES’ Horn Point Oyster Hatchery she’s helping to correct the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem by restoring the native oyster population. Oysters are a keystone species that act as essential filters for the bay’s water. Oyster reefs are also an important habitat for fish and other animals. In the 2013 season, the hatchery deployed 1.2 billion spat—that’s baby oysters—into the bay.
Grant unequivocally credits her career success and her passion for learning to her high school education. “Garrison really taught me how to be a scholar,” she says. “We learned how to think critically, to be independent, out-of-the-box thinkers.”
Even in her research today, she pushes herself to look beyond standard answers to deeper meanings. A strong sense of community, the encouragement that comes from being in a family-like environment and the reality that her school was invested in her both emotionally and academically were powerful motivators for Grant later in life.
Erika Feller, M.D.
Erika Feller, M.D.
Medical director of heart transplant and ventricular assist devices at the University of Maryland Medical Center
St. Timothy’s class of 1985
When Erika Feller joined the University of Maryland Medical
Center’s transplant team in 2004, the program was in its infancy, conducting perhaps five transplants a year. The program has since flourished; Feller sees more than 50 patients a week, the program does up to 20 transplants a year and people come from all over the East Coast to obtain ventricular assistance devices.
Feller cultivated an interest in acute cardiac care while training at Temple University, but her understanding of leadership, self-motivation and the hard work required to make it to the top of her field were established during her time as a boarder at St. Timothy’s.
Because it was a boarding school “you really had to have grit because you had to do things on your own,” Feller recalls. “You didn’t have your mom or dad kicking you out of bed to go get breakfast. You had to be a self-starter.”
Although it wasn’t explicit, she says St. Tim’s instilled a sense of purpose in graduates as well.
“They kind of say that you’ve been given a huge opportunity in life to do something and you better do it, because that’s why we’re here—to give back and be productive in our lives,” she says. “If it’s something that’s important to society, great. If it’s something that’s important to just a few people, that’s great, too. Whatever it is, just do it with gusto and pass your knowledge on.”
“We were expected to succeed, without question,” says Grant, “and when someone believes in you like that, it really drives you.”
“Being the first woman speaker and breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. Now it’s time to move on.”
’58 Institute of Notre Dame
Jason Odell Williams Emmy-nominated writer and producer of “Brain Games,” a documentary series for the National Geographic Channel.
Peacemaker. International Conflict Specialist Works to establish health care, support democratic governments and facilitate elections in post-conflict nations.
’82 Oldfields School
Mary Renner Beech
Chief marketing officer at Kate Spade
’90 Roland Park Country School
Gen·ius. The world’s greatest living theoretical physicist.
’68 Park School of Baltimore
Emmy-nominated set designer.
’85 Garrison Forest
Baltimore Orioles Pitcher
‘07 St. Paul’s School for Boys
Richelle Parham, chief marketing officer, eBay, ’86 Bryn Mawr.
Jason Winer, producer and director for “Modern Family” and “New Girl,” ’90 Friends School.
Natalie Standiford, author of “The Secret Tree” named one of the best books of 2012 by The New York Times, ‘79 Friends School.
Patricia M.C. Brown, president Johns Hopkins Healthcare, LLC, ‘78 Maryvale Prep.
Justin Boston, professional race car driver, ’08 Boys’ Latin.
Kerry Kavanaugh, reporter, WBAL-TV, ‘96 Maryvale Prep.
Eric Papenfuse, indie bookstore owner turned mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., ’89 Boys’ Latin.
Alan Wiggins, currently debuting on Broadway in “The Lion King”, ’01 St. Paul’s School for Boys.
Guy McKhann, neurosurgeon featured in the ABC documentary series “NY Med,” ‘80 St. Paul’s School for Boys.
Sara Kennedy, epidemiologist and co-founder Hope for West Africa, ’03 St. Paul’s School for Girls.
James Piper Bond, CEO, Living Classrooms, ‘77 Gilman.
Tony Foreman, restaurateur, ‘83 Gilman.
Emilie Kirkland MacFarlane, vice president, controller, Lilly Pulitzer, ’96 St. Paul’s School for Girls.
Rachel Magruder Allen, deputy director, Smithsonian American Art Museum, ’68 Roland Park Country School.
Ben Queen, wrote screenplay for PIXAR’s “Cars II,” ’92 McDonogh.
Amitabh Desai, director of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation. ’94 McDonogh.
Lea Gilmore, blues singer and human rights activist, ’83 Mercy High School.
Bridget Ward Horner, VP-IT, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, ’81 Institute of Notre Dame.
Kimberly Dozier, AP journalist who survived a bombing in Iraq, ’84 St. Timothy’s.
Nancy Longo, owner, Pierpoint Restaurant, chef of the Baltimore Ravens, ’80 Institute of Notre Dame.
Mandy Cabot, CEO and co-founder of Dansko, ’72 Garrison Forest.
Beth Botsford, Olympic gold medalist for swimming, ’99 Garrison Forest.
Jeffrey Nattans, executive vice president, Legg Mason. ’85 Calvert Hall.
Judith Palfrey, director, Global Pediatrics Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, ‘63 The Bryn Mawr School.
Randy Greer, cinematographer, ‘79 Jemicy School.
Mario Armstrong, Emmy Award-winning TV host and digital lifestyle expert, ’88 Calvert Hall.
Long before the world had mixologists, there were herbologists. During the Middle Ages, apothecaries were the source of tinctures and herbal elixirs that provided relief from ailments and anxieties. This delicious, detoxifying concoction may be enjoyed as a cocktail over ice—or, omitting the bourbon, served warm in equal parts organic green tea for relief from winter’s chill or a cold.
1 inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and finely sliced)
Juice from half a medium lime
4 sprigs fresh mint
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of organic honey (or agave nectar)
4 oz filtered or bottled water
2 oz Lexington Bourbon
Add finely sliced ginger, lime juice, mint, pepper, honey (or agave) and bourbon in a glass and muddle vigorously. Fill glass with fresh ice, top with filtered water and stir well before enjoying.
Never let it be said that Savvy is a slouch in the elocution department. Though V Fashion Towson/My Town Art Gallery may be a mouthful, Savvy is up to the task. So is Valerie Lambros Heneberry, who named the Ruxton spot to showcase her husband’s work—and her penchant for jewelry and accessories. Hubby is Patrick Reid O’Brien, famous for his dreamy, evocative works that put Savvy in mind of pointillist Maxfield Parrish. Look for wristlets and scarves by Spartina, 18K gold necklaces with Tahitian pearls by Catherine Canino and adorable travel boxes by PurseN. 1515 La Belle Ave., Ruxton, 443-928-0038
Photo by David Stuck
We thought we were being clever. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we sent two of our favorite people—Erica Reid Harrison, lead cake designer at La Cakerie, and her hubby John Harrison, a senior web manager—for a touchy-feely Partner Yoga session with local guru Sid McNairy of Sid Yoga Center in Towson (with an additional studio now open in Federal Hill). We figured they’s come out of the studio spouting adorably different Mars-vs.-Venus style interpretations of their experience. Turns out, they did us one better. Both had nearly identical (and very poignant) responses to the workshop, which consisted of face-to-face meditation, mirror poses and partner stretching. Either that means Erica and John are made for each other—or Sid is as good as his many loyal fans attest. (We think it’s probably both.) $125, private session. http://www.sidyoga.com
I always have a hard time touching my toes. But today, with Erica’s help, it was so much easier. She instinctively knew when to push and when to pull back. I guess that’s a pretty good analogy for our relationship. Like this morning. I was the one who got out of bed early to feed the cats and make a cup of coffee to stick under her nose. Tomorrow, she’ll do it. One of the most interesting parts of the exercise for me was the seated meditation when we were facing each other. It reminded me of this performance artist Marina Abramovic. During her MOMA retrospective, she asked people to come in and just sit across the table from her while they stared into each other’s eyes. In like five minutes, half of the participants burst into tears. Today was kind of like that for us, but not as sad. I could certainly see some sadness in Erica, but then I’d see love, and then anxiety and then love again. When you really take time to look at another human being, that’s a powerful thing.
John and I lead very athletic lives, but separately. I’m into running, he’s into long-distance cycling. Occasionally we’ll join the other, but we don’t really bond during those experiences. Today was totally different and not at all like I imagined. I figured it would be all about stretching, but I was surprised to find there was so much more to it. Yes, we achieved things together physically, but it was because Sid taught us to use nonverbal communication to cue into what the other person needs—to connect our hearts and use the actual warmth we generated to help each other. It’s funny, John always tells me that we can be in the same room together without speaking. And he’s right! Sometimes it’s nice just to breathe the same air. I think we will take some of the skills home—maybe even take time to stretch and relax together without the TV or the rush of making dinner. Relationships are all about learning to speak effectively and listen well. Now we can do it without even saying a word.
OK, so Savvy is lazy. Sometimes she can’t be bothered to go to a brick-and-mortar store when she can shop in her PJs. How convenient that Boheme Blue is ready to satisfy her whims. Local gal pals Rachel Gill and Nicole Sweeney created the Internet shop after they had children. They still wanted to exercise their fashion muscles— and their cheekiness—but on a budget. Thus, their collection of sexy tees, fringed shawls, sequined jackets and chunky sweaters suitable for all ages. Savvy has her eye on the Agate Leather Wrap Bracelet for $48, while STYLE’s editor-in-chief says she must have the “I Wish I Was an Olsen Twin” T-shirt. http://www.bohemeblue.com
My first car was a 1969 Buick LeSabre—metallic blue. It looked like a state police cruiser. Gas was 53 cents a gallon then, and Richard Nixon was still in the White House. It was 1974. My LeSabre was the sort of car that old ladies drove other old ladies to church in on Sundays. I was mortified. It was not the car I wanted. My friends were driving Saabs and Volvos and Jeeps—vehicles in which one could assuredly meet worldly women (not old ladies) and have other adventures. But my father, who was the underwriter of this purchase, was a practical man, and we had mechanics that worked for the family business. The mechanics, who were named Leo and Bunny (not sure why), pronounced that Buick LeSabre a good car. They were right.
I never met any worldly women while driving that car, but I did meet a high-spirited divorced nurse—an older woman who drove a Volkswagen Beetle. We rode around in her car. I did have a few adventures. Once, after an evening’s merriment, I drove my LeSabre off the road into a field and fell asleep. I distinctly recall the children of the farmer who owned said field waking me the following morning, excited to find me in the pasture. No harm was done, and the farmer (a more worldly fellow than I would have expected to find in Penobscot County, Maine) pulled my car out of his field with his tractor and sent me on my way with a bad hangover and a lesson learned.
The first car is every American’s birthright. It’s one of the Four Freedoms. No? It’s the Fifth Freedom. Mobility. Everyone has a good first car story. And all first car stories are, upon reflection, bad first car stories. Forget baseball and apple pie. Nothing is more American than buying that first car—and the troubles that often come with it. What you’re actually buying is someone else’s last car, or, as Leo and Bunny would call it, “somebody else’s problems.” Who among us does not have somewhere in the back lot of their memory a Rambler or a Cutlass or a Dodge Dart of highly dubious provenance in which they took to the highways searching for adventure?
My next car was a VW Rabbit—an eggshell blue hatchback. My father shook his head, but I was off the payroll and it was my decision. Leo and Bunny pronounced my Rabbit NOT a good car. They were right. But as Dr. Franklin told us, experience keeps a dear school but a fool will learn in no other.
The car changed American life. It certainly changed mine—and I’m sure it changed yours, too. With a car one can go places and do things (like meet divorced older nurses and have adventures).
Baltimore is most assuredly a town that was changed by the car. I suppose many of Baltimore’s woes might be blamed on Henry Ford. Before the car became common, folks walked or rode the streetcar or the trolley. And they shopped near where they lived, and they lived in the city. The glades and glyns of Glyndon and the garths and glens of Glen Burnie were a far country once upon a time. We tend not to remember that. The suburban sprawl that surrounds Baltimore, sucking the life out of the city, has a lot to do with the car (and race, but we’ll save that for another time)
Of course, these days the real adventure starts at the car dealership. No two buyers ever pay the same price for a car. The sticker price is meaningless. You can study Consumer Reports like a biblical scholar, but to what avail? Up is down on the showroom floor. I bought a car recently after wild and protracted negotiations with at least a half-dozen dealerships. It was exhausting.
In the end, I did what most American men would do. I bought the car my wife wanted. I don’t know if my late father or Leo or Bunny would pronounce it a good car. But I do know that I won’t be meeting any worldly women in it.
If you’re desperately seeking an affordable, romantic getaway with your sweetheart, consider an overnight at the Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel in nearby Taneytown, Md. General manager John Vonnes describes Antrim’s winter special ($119 per person, per night) as “the best pricing of the year.” Available through March 31 (except for Valentine’s Day weekend, sorry lovers), the package includes dinner at the inn’s elegant and Smokehouse restaurant. Chef Spencer Wolff, who took over the kitchen last August, has lightened up the menu—both literally and figuratively—with such whimsical and colorful presentations as deconstructed Niçoise salad (a tower of ahi tuna, haricots verts and Yukon gold potato, topped by a farm egg) or a vibrant sea bass on a bed of black forbidden rice with a swirl of bright yellow curry sauce. A romantic meal, says Wolff, who comes most recently from The Hamilton in D.C., “can be about eating with your eyes.” Many of the Antrim’s rooms have wood-burning fireplaces, and the winter package also includes afternoon tea and hors d’oeuvres and a full country breakfast. Good morning, sunshine. 30 Trevanion Road, Taneytown, 410-756-6812. http://www.antrim1844.com
Few men are hands-on when it comes to interior design. You can’t blame them. The process has so many moving parts, and there are football games to watch and steaks to be grilled. Sure, weighing in on wall colors and artwork can be intriguing. But pulling together fabrics to dress a room? Adjusting architectural elements to add interest to a room with no windows? As designer Elizabeth Reich of Jenkins Baer Associates explains, “The design process is a puzzle, and most people need help putting the pieces together. What I’ve learned from the men I’ve worked for is they need a little coaxing to take the proverbial man cave to the level of personal style and comfort they want.”
Reich designed a bachelor pad in a new Baltimore County condominium complex for a 40-something professional grant reviewer. He rented a place for years “that had no style at all,” he relates, with the disclaimer, “I had no exposure to interior design and not much interest, either.” He knew he needed to buy and install an investment-worthy home, but aside from “something comfortable with a young, modern feel,” he wasn’t sure of what he truly desired. He had purchased a top-floor condo during construction and, in the drywall stage, found Reich through a friend-in-common. She came to take a look, promptly dubbed the project “the bachelor pad” and assembled a presentation that blew him away.
Reich says. “The softness, warmth and masculine colors of a Manhattan condo featured in Architectural Digest caught his attention. The mood just grabbed him. He called me not even a day later to say I had the job.”
Reich started by learning his habits and interests. “Listening to music and reading were high priorities,” she says. “And he’s tall, so I knew extra-long sofas were important for stretching out.” He told her he wanted a desk in a study and he’d already chosen his kitchen cabinets. The next steps were her own. “I have a process that starts with allotting the space and affixing the architectural details to dress each room up or down,” she says. “Then, I find the appropriate furnishings. I finish by choosing the wall colors.”
Her suggestions brought out a sensibility that surprised even this design naïf. He went for the unusual artwork and chandeliers, furnishings with a rustic-meets industrial look, and even the paint finish for a sexy powder room inspired by a box made of bone that Reich loves. Did our bachelor know all the parts would work? Hardly. But he was game, and in the end, made a happy discovery. The few pieces of his own he brought fit right in.
Java-obsessed Phil Han’s first business venture was a pop-up coffee stand at his family’s Korean church in Hanover, Md. “My thought was, if I can convince an older generation of Koreans to like this coffee, maybe we can convince others,” says the Gilman and Babson College graduate who opened Dooby’s Coffee in Mount Vernon in August.
The name is derived from Han’s childhood nickname—his mother called him deukgobbi (the Korean word for croaking toad) because he cried so much as a baby. The menu, like the interior, is minimal: soups, sandwiches and a handful of South Korean-influenced dishes, and for dinner, small plates and the occasional entrée (like a bone-in rib-eye) are available along with wine, beer and cocktails. Of course there are Counter Culture coffee drinks and baked goods by Katie Boyts. “This will be the only place in town you can get a Fruity Pebble marshmallow cookie,” Han notes.
He and Chef Paul Lee (who cooked at Daikaya in D.C.) also came up with the Cambodian chicken salad, which Han calls “a destination chicken salad.” The idea, he says “was to create a memorable flavor profile that’s almost mildly offensive,” thanks to Thai red chili peppers and a dash of fish sauce in the mix. It’s served on homemade sourdough, which Han points out, “has a rockin’ flavor.” Dooby’s Coffee, 802 N. Charles St., 410-702-5144. http://www.doobyscoffee.com.
I’m not what you would call a laid-back sort of person. My husband calls me a hurricane; my massage therapist says I have “tight tuchas syndrome.” I just say I’m a nervous wreck. For the past several years, I’ve given a lot of thought to meditation—and even tried it a few times. But every time I sit down to meditate, my mind wanders to the deadline I’m missing, the bagel with melted Muenster cheese I’d like to be eating or that backroom sale at Loehmann’s. I can’t help but think that my attempts at meditation are a waste of precious time.
Still, it’s hard to dismiss the mounds of scientific data proving that stress is a major health hazard with a direct link to strokes, heart attacks, depression, anxiety, insomnia, digestive disorders and infertility—and that meditation can significantly reduce stress. With data such as this, choosing not to meditate seems downright self-destructive.
So, I decided to give it another shot, asking Steve Haddad— instructor at Charm City Yoga and president of Sangha Solutions, a mindfulness based consulting firm for non-profits—to set me up with a daily mediation practice to, quite literally, help save my life.
Haddad practices Vipassana or “insight” meditation, a 2,500-year-old Buddhist mind training that increases awareness, compassion and helps us to live in the moment. It also discourages reverting to deeply entrenched, often self-defeating patterns of thinking and behavior.
“You can be mindful doing anything—washing dishes, sitting in traffic, bring it into your world,” says Haddad, who recommends that beginners start home practice by setting a designated time at least three times a week for about 15 minutes. Gradually work up to 30 or more minutes daily. For best results, combine home practice with community practice so you can get a little guidance and support. (Note: Vipassana is challenging, even uncomfortable at times, and requires dedication.) While enlightenment may be years away, you should notice a difference after 21 days of committed practice. And who knows, your blood pressure might just go down, too. http://www.charmcityyoga.com
Here’s how to meditate Vipassana-style:
• Find a comfortable seat, and sit cross-legged, or with legs splayed out in front or tucked behind you. Sitting on a chair is fine—or just sit against a wall. It’s important to sit up straight so there is a clear
passage for the breath.
• You may wish to make a resolution before each practice session. Doing so will help strengthen your determination. You can use your own words, but the spirit of the aspiration should be something like this: “By this practice of insight meditation may I reach the end of suffering. May others also benefit from this wholesome action.”
• Close your eyes, or if you prefer keep them open, casting a soft gaze at a non-moving space in front of you.
• Scan the body, noticing any areas of tension or discomfort, and try to relax them.
• Start by focusing on your abdomen. Breathe normally but pay attention to the sensation of the breath going in and out of your body. To help you to focus, silently tell yourself, “I’m breathing in; I’m breathing out,” or “rising; falling.” You can put your hands on your abdomen if it helps you to focus.
• So you might think now’s the time for you to start chanting “ommmm” or to picture yourself relaxing on a tropical beach. (That’s so transcendental, baby.) These aren’t part of the Vipassana practice. Instead, just keep focusing on your breath.
• Expect that after about two seconds, you will get distracted. Note the distraction, but don’t criticize yourself.
• Do inquire about the distraction. Is it a thought, a feeling, an anxiety? Silently label it for yourself with a simple word, like “thought” and let it go.
• Ditto if you encounter an external distraction, like a door shutting. Don’t think too much about it. Simply label it “sound” and let it go. (Note: In a 15- or 20-minute session, Haddad estimates one will get distracted 40 or 50 times. That’s OK. Just keep returning to the breath.)
• Once your session is complete, open your eyes (if they were shut) and slowly rise, making a commitment to practice mindfulness throughout the day.
Hot yoga, power yoga, acro yoga, yogalates, even hula hoop yoga…with Western takes on Downward Dog everywhere you look, it’s easy to forget where, when and why the ancient practice originated. Yoga: The Art of Transformation, a new exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian, explores yoga’s transformative powers with visual art and ephemera from the second century CE to the mid-20th century. The exhibition includes 133 objects including stone, bronze and marble sculptures, paintings, illustrated manuscripts, a scroll, photographs, films, books and printed materials, posters and postcards and examines yogic philosophy and its role in the Jain, Buddhist, and Sufi and Hindu traditions. One word: Namaste. Through Jan. 26, 2014. http://www.asia.si.edu.
In her last year of college, Nutreatious CEO Dana Sicko was beginning the clinical rotations required for her bachelor’s degree as a registered dietician when an older man recovering from a heart attack ordered her out of his hospital room. By golly, he snorted, if he wanted to eat bacon and eggs each morning for the rest of his life, he darn well would and dismissed her nutritional services as “another way for the insurance companies to make money.” Sicko—and the heart-healthy diet she had written for him (sans bacon and eggs)—quickly left the room.
She laughs as she recounts the story. But the loud and clear message stuck: People do not want to be told what to eat. “I love bacon and eggs, too,” agrees Sicko. “I would hate to be told I couldn’t have them.”
Departing from the RD track where, in essence, telling people what they can’t eat if they want to become or remain healthy is the mainstay of the job, Sicko went on to graduate with a degree in nutritional science from the University of New Hampshire, where she was already cooking up the idea of a business like Nutreatious. “I would be sitting on the bus, coming home from intermural lacrosse games and conjure ways to make cookies and other treats healthier.” Hence the provenance of the company’s name.
After graduating in 2010 and working as a nutritional consultant for FX Studios in Cockeysville, she would tinker around in her kitchen late at night and bring in her offerings for the studio’s clients. “I somehow had to make a healthy blueberry muffin taste like a real blueberry muffin,” she says. She obviously paid attention in chemistry class, replacing coconut milk for fats, agave nectars for sugars, whole wheat or gluten-free wheat to get the proteins down for the perfect light and fluffy muffin. “It took a few years to get these muffins just right,” says Sicko, but her boss was immediately impressed, asking her to expand beyond her treat menu and begin cooking three meals a day for one of the studio’s clients.
Around that time, Baltimore native Harry Kassap returned home from living and working in Las Vegas where, as he puts it, he “gained weight and lost hair” and hadn’t exercised in 25 years. Walking around with extra pounds and high blood pressure, Kassap’s doctor told him to start exercising and eating right and handed him Sicko’s business card.
“I knew the right foods to eat, of course, but I was going for the Doritos over fruit any day,” recalls Kassap who took his doctor’s advice and called Sicko the next day. Impressed with Sicko’s professionalism, Kassap, handed over his credit card and told her, “I want you to cook every meal, using the freshest and best food for me.”
Once filled with junk food, Kassap’s kitchen is now stocked with fruits, dried fruits, water, herbal teas, high fiber cereals and low-fat organic milk. “I actually eat quinoa now, and I love it,” admits Kassap used to life off of processed meat. “Thanks to Dana, I still eat meat but now it’s organic grass-fed beef in her amazing Asian stir-fry dish.”
Each client begins with a personal consultation. “Everyone has a relationship with food,” says Sicko, “and it’s my job to understand what that is.” Some of her clients want to lose weight, some want to eat healthier and others have little time to cook. All have likes and dislikes. Sicko’s mission is to work within those likes and dislikes to create a healthy menu.
Under Armour founder Kevin Plank and his wife, DJ, simply wanted to start eating healthier, so they hired Sicko to map out a 12-week meal plan. “She cooked five meals a week plus healthy snacks for us,” says DJ. But Sicko did more. She contacted Plank’s secretary to discuss healthy lunch choices in his company’s cafeteria. She made kid-friendly fruit kabobs and vegan Rice Krispies treats the kids couldn’t resist. She tweaked her blackened fish taco recipe to please each member of the family—spicing it up for the adults; toning it down for the kids. It’s been over two years, and Sicko is still cooking weekly for the busy family. “She’s like a member of our family,” says DJ.
After a client’s initial consultation, Sicko, who now has two chefs working with her, creates a menu specific to each client’s needs. She sends a menu for the week via email, generates a grocery list upon approval, then shops and orders foods from Whole Foods and other specialty shops. “I am that serious shopper you see, two hands on the cart—no time for lulling around the aisles.”
After shopping, she and her chefs head to the clients’ homes to commence the week’s meal preparations. They cook the food—usually six to eight different mix and match dishes loaded with fruits and vegetables, affix labels to each container with reheating instructions, arrange them by meal and day in the refrigerator, and clean up. “The clients don’t even know we were there until they open the refrigerator,” says Sicko.
Recipe development is a big part of Sicko’s job. “I am a mad scientist with recipe reconstruction,” she admits. She has several families where one child eats gluten-free, another is lactose intolerant, the mom is a vegetarian and the dad wants meat. So she makes one big meal they can all come together around. “Everyone likes the vegetarian lasagna!” she says.
Looking back, Sicko realizes she was probably destined to one day work with food. “When I was 6, my parents gave me an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas—and I attacked that thing, she says.
“My mom literally had to issue time restrictions on how much I could use it.”
In addition to her personal chef services, which start at $350 per visit plus the cost of food, Sicko recently added catering to Nutreatious’ menu of offerings. The organization-obsessed culinary wiz also offers “pantry transformations” and other kitchen design services, which included a recent trip to Utah to help one of her client’s set up shop in her new vacation home.
“I opened 30 boxes of appliances, pot and pans, and utensils,” she says. “It was unbelievable! I was in heaven.”
No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a stop in the borough of Brooklyn, a bastion of all things arty and au courant. Take the subway to Eastern Parkway, or get off at Grand Army Plaza to explore the vibrant neighborhood of Park Slope. It’s a short walk from there to the 560,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building that houses the Brooklyn Museum. You’ll feel right at home, since the museum’s director is none other than Arnold L. Lehman, former director of the BMA. Now showing: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. This is the only East Coast venue for the multi-media exhibition which includes 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter ensembles as well as sketches, costumes, film excerpts and fashion photography dating back to the designer’s earliest days when he designed clothes for his muse, ‘Nana the teddy bear’ to today. Gaultier’s avant-garde designs are more than beautiful, they challenge societal norms about gender politics and aesthetics. Through Feb. 23, brooklyn http://www.museum.org. —Simone ellin
It’s extraordinary how powerful viewing a single object can be. Like the shackles, worn by an actual slave, on display in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture’s new exhibition, “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey—Where Art and History Intersect.” Also on display: an early copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the historic document most of us believe spelled an end to slavery. While technically true, the exhibition shows how laws such as the Black Codes and Jim Crow put into effect after the Civil War continued to restrict the lives of African-Americans until the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Don’t miss this incomparable collection of manuscripts, artifacts and rare art, collected by Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, a couple who have spent their 40 years of marriage collecting items that, yes, shed light on a tragic history—but also celebrate the resiliency, courage and remarkable levels of achievement reached by a group of people confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Through March 2. General admission, $6-$8. 443-263-1800, http://www.rflewismuseum.org —Simone Ellin
The Amazing Johnny Eck, one of Baltimore’s most famous personalities, was born in 1911 without legs. Known as “the half-man” in the film Freaks (1932) and “the most remarkable man alive” by Robert Ripley, Eck lived life as a sideshow performer, artist, photographer, gymnast and more. An exhibit of Eck’s screen paintings (created with his twin brother), family photographs, personal objects and memorabilia is on display at MICA, telling the story of this fascinating man. Through March 16 at Decker Gallery. Free. 410-669-9200, http://www.mica.edu
Prepare all your senses for the Hippodrome’s most colorful performance. The multi-talented and Grammy-nominated Blue Man Group comes to the stage for a show that transcends all barriers, culture, age and language. The painted men take entertainment to the next level with a hybrid of music, comedy and special effects. Jan. 10-12. Tickets, $35-$95. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Glimpse into artist Henri Matisse’s quiet personal life with more than 50 images of his daughter Marguerite, including sculptures, paintings and drawings. Matisse completed the portraits when he struggled with his artistic vision and was striving for acclaim. The one-of-a-kind works in Matisse’s Marguerite: Model Daughter offer an insight into the deep connection between the father and daughter for more than 45 years. The exhibit includes never-before-seen items from private collections and other museums. Through Jan. 19 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. 443-573-1701, http://www.artbma.org
MR. CARTER TOUR
He’s sold more than 50 million albums, is worth $500 million, has three of his albums on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All- Time list—and, of course, has been married to Queen Bey for five years. If you missed Jay Z last summer in Baltimore, hop down to the
Verizon Center on Jan. 16 for the Magna Carta World Tour. We’ve got 99 problems, but this concert ain’t one. Tickets, $32-$150. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Share some laughs (and maybe a few tears) as the silent films of the 1920s come roaring back to life in Chaplin’s Back, a live performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Celebrating 100 years since Charlie’s first film appearance, the BSO, conducted by Marin Alsop, will perform some of
Chaplin’s most beautiful movie scores and screen two classic gems, “The Kid” and “The Idle Class.” Jan. 30-31 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $29-$65. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org
Just say oui to Boeing-Boeing, the most performed French play throughout the world (according to “The Guinness Book of WorldRecords”). In this sexy ‘60s comedy, playboy Bernard juggles three (count ‘em, three!) fiancées—all of whom are flight attendants. Through finagling flight schedules, he manages to keep them all separate…until the airlines change their timetables and complete pandemonium and comedy ensue. Jan. 10-Feb. 9 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. Tickets, $15-$20. 410-276-7837, http://www.fpct.org.
Your kids will squeal (and sing) in delight when Nick Jr.’s Kiki, Shout, Marina and Twist rock out at Baltimore Arena for The Fresh Beat Band’s tour. Our suggestion: bring a good attitude—and some Dramamine. (Their hit song is called “Spin Around!”) Jan. 18. Tickets, $26-$43. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Whether you’re a wrestling fan or just a John Cena fan (we know you’re out there, ladies!), this WWE Monday Night Raw won’t disappoint. There’s sure to be plenty of big musclemen, tattoos, grunting and sweat. In addition to Cena, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and other WWE stars will be wrestling it out for the title—but sorry, gents, no Stacy Keibler in this ring. Jan. 6 at the Baltimore Arena. Tickets, $20-$95. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Bad luck plagues the Magrath sisters in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Crimes of the Heart. Meg comes crawling home to Mississippi after a failed music career, lightning strikes Lenny’s horse, no one remembers her birthday, and Babe shoots her husband because she doesn’t like his looks. Surprisingly, this heart-warming play will leave you laughing and uplifted. Jan. 8-Feb. 2 at Everyman Theatre. Tickets, $32-$60. 410-752-2208, http://www.everymantheater.org
Bring tissues. War Horse follows young Albert through his journey to reclaim his cherished Joey after the horse was torn away and sold to the Calvary in World War I. Albert’s quest to bring Joey home after three years of battle-ridden separation will move you—and be remembered as one of the most emotional performances in Hippodrome history. Feb. 4-9. Tickets, $30-$90. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
OUR KINDA PARTY
Tip your cowboy hat to Jason Aldean when he brings his 2014 Night Train Tour to Baltimore Arena on Feb 1. Aldean’s history-making headline stop at Fenway Park sold out in just seven minutes—and, this time, he’s bringing two other country heavyweights along for the ride. “Cruise” with Florida Georgia Line and rock out with the “Redneck Crazy” Tyler Farr until the 19-time ACM, CMA and Billboard award winner hits the stage—and drives his big green tractor right into your heart. Tickets, $26-$52. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER
The BSO goes where no symphony has gone before in this Sci-Fi Spectacular with host George Takei. Prepare your inner trekkie for the final frontier featuring selections from “Star Trek,” “E.T.,“ “Somewhere in Time” and “Star Wars.” Jack Everly, the conductor for the eccentric affair, previously conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in the National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth. Feb. 20-23 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $29-$94. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org
When Hollywood comes to a small Irish town, the locals line up in hopes of being cast as extras. But the best part of the joyful Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones is that two actors play more than a dozen townsfolk, whose dreams lead them (and the audience) to a delightful surprise. Jan. 15-Feb. 23 at Center Stage. Tickets, $10-$59. 410-332-0033, http://www.centerstage.org
When the creators of “South Park” took their comedic talents to Broadway, the result was nine Tony awards for the 2011 smash hit Book of Mormon. Coming to the Hippodrome with cast members from other hit Broadway shows and even TV’s “Gossip Girl,” the hysterical musical follows Elder Kevin Price, a suave missionary-in-the-making, who is paired with the nerdy, overweight Elder Arnold Cunningham on their first mission to Uganda. It’s hysterical and even heartwarming. Feb. 25-March 9 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $30-$150. 800-653-8000, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Weird science meets the Food Network as Alton Brown, celeb chef and television personality, brings his quirky Edible Inevitable Tour to Baltimore. This 90-minute multi-media show features food experimentation, standup comedy and music. Be warned, if you are asked to assist with a project on stage, be sure to put on the lab coat! Feb. 22 at the Lyric. Tickets, $45-$150. 410-900-1150, http://www.lyricopera ouse .com
So you think you’re a tough mudder? On Feb. 15, don your favorite skivvies and run a mile for the Children’s Tumor Found-ation in Cupid’s Undie Run. Sure, you’ll be freezing your you-know-whats off, but it’s for a great cause. Plus, depending on how much money you raise, you’ll earn—not a medal, but a pair of official “I’m with Cupid” undies or even a plush, red embroidered bathrobe. Just think how warm you’ll be at the after party. Luckie’s Tavern at Power Plant Live! Registration, $35-$50 http://www.cupidsundierun.com/city/baltimore
It always bothers me when perfectly innocent foods such as chocolate, butter or bacon are demonized and described as “sinful” or “decadent.” After all, eating real food is nothing to feel guilty about. I’ll take a proper grass-fed steak over a processed soy burger any day, thanks.
That said, everything is best when taken in moderation and, around this time of year, many of us have consumed more than our fair share of rich, calorie-heavy meals. That doesn’t mean bland has to become your new buzzword. The following four dishes are hearty, rich and satisfying—and pack just as much of a flavor wallop as their more calorie-dense counterparts.
Slow roasting the tomatoes for the white bean dish brings out their gorgeous sweetness. (Hence my name for them: “tomato candy.”) This is a filling meal on its own, or serve with a lean protein such as white fish or pork tenderloin.
The Ethiopian lentils are smoky, spicy and oh-so-very good for you. For a complete meal, serve with a braised winter green. Meanwhile, in the spicy chicken soup, the light coconut milk keeps the calorie count down, while the chicken breasts stay super moist thanks to the fact that they’re poached right in the broth.
Finally, the Israeli couscous “risotto” is a lighter spin on the traditional buttery version of the dish. And if you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, this dish might just change your mind.
The new Glyndon Grill, says owner John Barrett, “is all about the basics.” And the man behind the ever popular Barrett’s Grill, should know. The new restaurant—though a bit more casual than its big sister in Hunt Valley—appropriates about 20 percent of its menu from Barrett’s original namesake restaurant and the kitchen is helmed by Barrett’s former sous chef Ryan Worthington. Menu favorites include a lobster and shrimp roll, the tuna poke made with sushi-grade tuna on wonton chips with wasabi cream, and the popular French dip, thin-sliced prime rib with gruyere on a baguette. The interior is simple, a rustic-industrial vibe created by exposed ductwork and dark African mahogany tables, with black and white photos that document the region’s history. The private dining Sagamore room features images of the nearby Sagamore Farm. “Glyndon is a tight-knit community,” says
Barrett. “Old-time Glyndon has a lot of character, with the old post office and iconic buildings. We thought it would be great
to bring casual dining to the neighborhood.” 4844 Butler Road, Glyndon, 443-881-4183. http://www.glyndongrill.com
It is 3:15 a.m. as we make our way in dark silence to the chapel, a half-mile walk from the retreat house. The beam from our flashlight reflects on a blanket of frost glistening like fairy dust over the fields. Overhead, a nearly full moon and thousands of stars strewn across a navy blue sky provide extra wattage. The entire solar system appears cosmically aligned for this one glorious moment. I am exhausted and exhilarated. It is cold. No, it is freezing. But we do not utter one word; we are in the middle of The Great Silence when speaking is reserved for emergencies. All we hear is the exhalation of our breaths and the sound of pure, unadulterated peace.
I had toyed with the idea of retreating at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va., for many years. But when my incoming emails ratcheted up to a thousand and I realized I was starting to twitch when my iPad was out of sight, I finally got the message. It was time to unplug and go off the grid.
Even though this trip is about embracing silence, I don’t want to go solo. “Do we have to wear long hooded robes tied with a rope?” asks my friend Day lightheartedly after she agrees to come along.
As a talker, I had some misgivings. Even when I’m home alone, political pundits yak in the background. My husband was a doubting Thomas. He said I couldn’t stay tight-lipped for more than 20 minutes; that I’d be expelled for giggling. A friend suggested I pack a roll of duct tape, just in case. And my sisters howled at the image of me sans room service, Frette linens or my nightly glass of Cabernet.
But I had faith.
Nestled between the Shenandoah River and Blue Ridge Mountains, the abbey was founded in 1950 on a 1200-acre working farm. At its peak, 60 Cistercian Trappist monks lived in the historic 18th-century buildings; today there are 10—both young and old, monks-in-training and some who’ve lived here their whole lives. To make ends meet, they lease the farmland as pasture for beef cattle and sell fruitcake, creamed honey and chocolates.
My “cozy” (read: spartan) room and private bath have green cinder block walls. Furnishings are basic—a single bed, chair, built-in desk, floor lamp, nightstand. That’s it. There are no keys. No dead bolts. No safety chains. Doors lock from the inside only. My first instinct is to lock my wallet in the car, but—hold on—this is why I am here, to feel nurtured and safe.
The monks conduct seven daily services. Six are open to the public including Vigils, Lauds, Vespers and Compline. We attend them all. The monks chant, pray, recite passages from the Old
Testament or celebrate the Mass. We never sing or recite a prayer. We remain silent.
The only time we see all retreatants is at meals. A few nod or smile as we pass by. With others, I feel invisible. Initially, sitting at a communal U-shaped table with 15 silent men and women feels odd. After the second or third meal, I acclimate. I enjoy being in my own thoughts instead of engaging in idle chatter.
This is not a place for fussy eaters. Breakfast consists of dry cereals or toast with the monk’s flavored honey. Lunch is a tray of unidentified fish filets, a bowl of potatoes and carrots. While
I don’t usually eat red meat, Shepherd’s Pie is served at dinner. I clean my plate.
To pass the hours between services, Day journals and I spend time reading. Each time I catch a glimpse of my iPad tucked in my suitcase I feel like an alcoholic eyeing a bottle of bourbon. Just once I succumb to temptation. After skimming several meaningless emails I am overcome by guilt, I never reach for it again.
I thought our days might drag, but I discover that Mother Nature is better than any app. The emotional rush of our middle-of-the-night walks to church with stops to stargaze make me think of a quote I found in the library, “the quieter I become, the more I hear.”
Now that I’m home, I’m still no saint when it comes to my iPad obsession. But I am tuning out of mindless background noise and tuning into myself. I am speaking less; listening more. I’ve learned an important truth. Silence really is golden. Suggested donation, $75 to $150 per night. http://www.virginiatrappists.org.
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Either you will believe what I’m about to tell you, or you won’t. When I first was invited to try the new energy healing treatments at The Spa at the Four Seasons Baltimore, I figured it would be a chance to chill out in a beautiful space—and, hopefully, experience a few funny moments—like, say, discovering that my spirit animal is a cougar or a wombat.
To say that I was unprepared, spiritually or emotionally, for this journey is an understatement.
On day one I meet Hitomi, a seemingly ageless Japanese woman and the granddaughter of a Buddhist monk, for a Reconnective Healing session designed to relax me with “a bandwidth of powerful healing frequencies.” I lie on the table, clothed under a blanket while Hitomi holds her hands a few inches above my face, traveling down to hover over my abdomen and legs, and sometimes raising her hands up high, as if she were pulling fresh saltwater taffy out of my body.
True confession: For the first half of the session, I’m basically having a panic attack. My heart is beating out of my chest—probably because I’m not used to silence in my life. (I even sleep with a fan for the white noise.) Worse: I can’t stop thinking of “bad” things, like profanity and porn. This may sound crazy, but when put in situations where I’m supposed to be pure, my brain rebels and goes to the dark side.
“Oh my God!” I worry to myself. “What if this poor woman is psychic and can read my mind?” I start silently repeating the phrase “love and light”—laughing inside, because I think I stole it from Teresa on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
Eventually, I calm down and focus on the warmth from Hitomi’s hands. At one point, it almost feels like she’s covering me in an electric force field a la “Star Wars.” But I still feel exhausted—heavy and dark, like a stone.
Then, in an instant, everything changes. My ears pop, and I see a flash of white light inside my eyelids. I feel a whooshing sensation like a gentle vacuum on either side of my head, and my heartbeat returns to normal. I swear, it almost feels like an exorcism.
“You fought me for a long time,” says Hitomi, explaining that, at first, some people are too on guard to let her work her magic as an energy “catalyst,” but eventually she always gets in. I leave feeling light, happy, energized and productive for the rest of the day.
Two nights later, my Reiki session with Terry gets more personal.
“You know those healers on TV who lay their hands on people and push them down to the ground?” she asks. I nod my head. “This will be kind of like that, but without all the drama.”
Terry claps and rubs her hands, then starts gently holding and massaging different parts of my body.
About 10 minutes into the session, she stops and says, “I’m sorry, but I have to ask you a question. I’m getting a sense of some past trauma—as if something was torn from you, like in a divorce or a car accident, and I don’t feel comfortable moving forward unless we address it.”
I’m floored, a little sad and strangely relieved. I’ve been carrying around the weight of my dad’s tragic death for nearly 20 years—something Terry says she feels on two energetic levels. The first is like an outer shell that’s entirely open, like a wound, which means that I feel everything around me, both good and bad. But my inner core craves safety.
“Just know that I’m holding a space of protection for you,” says Terry, as she helps to soothe me and talk through some strategies for moving forward after the session. That includes checking out a tapping modality called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) on YouTube for daily stress relief and finding a place where I feel completely safe—even if that’s just sitting in my car with the doors locked listening to music. (She suggests “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, and we both laugh.)
“I sense that you’re a smart cookie who tends to analyze rather than process the big stuff that happens in your life,” Terry adds, summarizing me in a nutshell. “But I think you’re going to have to feel your way out of this one.”
I commit to do the heavy emotional lifting—and Terry promises to be there to support me (and my energy) during the transition from fractured soul to whole.
“So what do you think my spirit animal would have been anyway?” I ask, smiling through a few tears. “Maybe a porcupine or a turtle—something with a hard outer shell?”
“I think a bird is better,” Terry replies, touching my arm warmly. “It’s time to set yourself free.” Reconnective Healing, $140. Reiki, $65-$100. http://www.fourseasons.com/baltimore/spa
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“We’re building the muscle that’s not being built.”
If that sounds like a mantra, you’re not far off. Though she doesn’t call it that, Anjali Sunita repeats the phrase often enough that it sure feels like one.
Dressed in a loose, gray-and-white striped sweater over cotton palazzo pants, the 32-year-old yoga instructor sits barefoot and cross-legged. With huge expressive eyes, delicate cheekbones and fluttering hands, she’s a slim little sparrow perched on a chair.
Anjali is leading our group of four women through a class called “Out-Loud Meditation: Find Your Voice & Speak Your Honest Truth.”
Silly me, I thought yoga was involved.
So I came dressed appropriately. Turns out that’s not necessary. For there is no movement in this class, at least not of the Downward-Facing Dog variety. We all sit in a circle
Anjali has been teaching yoga at the Baltimore Yoga Village, which she founded in 2007, after years of training at ashrams in Canada and India. Earnest about her endeavors to “create a sense of greater peace and ease for individuals and communities,” she nonetheless laughs easily and puts her bumbling charges—us—at ease. This workshop is all about, as Anjali calls it, “transformation.” Through a series of speaking exercises, we’re supposed to open up about our feelings and learn to talk freely, calmly and with authenticity.
Yes, it’s kind of therapy lite.
Anjali says she began conducting this class, after learning it from a man named Taber Shadburne in California, because she noticed that while many of her students would leave yoga sessions relaxed and at ease, they reported that the feeling didn’t last once they got home. The stress from real-life demands would make those floaty feelings of well-being evaporate like the vague memory of a dream.
The first exercise is called “Sometimes I Pretend.” You turn to the person next to you and begin your sentence with that phrase. Linda says, “Sometimes I pretend that I’m not annoyed when I really am.” The next woman says, “Thank you.” Then it’s her turn.
Jane says, “Sometimes I pretend I’m not hurt when my artwork is criticized.” I say, “Thank you,” and it’s my turn. My mind’s a blank. Actually, I’m naughty and can’t help thinking of a “Seinfeld” episode where George visits a shaman, but I can’t say that. So I turn to my left and reiterate Linda’s sentiment using different words. Paula, a wife and mother of two, says, “Thank you” and “Sometimes I pretend I’m happy when I’m not.”
This round-robin continues for a while, until Anjali starts us on another exercise, “Naming and Noticing.” We pair off, and stand facing each other. Here we have to describe physical sensations. “My cheeks feel hot.” “My neck is stiff.” “I have a headache.” Then we have to stand closer to each other (oh, no, another Seinfeld reference—the close talker!).
Paula is visibly uncomfortable. “We’re in each other’s space!” she says. Anjali encourages her to close her eyes and concentrate on her body. “Be in the present,” she counsels.
The third exercise is all about emotions. “No thoughts,” we’re admonished. This brings up the verbal stumbling familiar to anyone who’s gone through therapy: certain statements are considered thoughts, not feelings. Saying “I feel angry” is allowed; saying “that idiot ruined my roof and I’m going to make him pay” isn’t.
The fourth exercise combines physical sensations with emotional words, and the two don’t have to match. For example: “I feel the soft sweater on my skin” combined with “I feel excited.”
The point of all this? To get participants to take risks, says Anjali, to “dwell in uncomfortable feelings and let them pass.” But always, to acknowledge them, something she says women especially have a hard time doing.
“Women will often say ‘I’m sad’ when really what they mean is ‘I’m angry.’” she remarks, and the four of us immediately nod.
Though I continue to worry more about potential Seinfeldian eruptions than I do about my emotions, I have to admit this tantric talking does bring out a bit of intimacy in the circle. There’s a sense of calm and safety in the room. And I can see the power in achieving peace by effectively using your voice. (Note: Anjali also offers workshops that include singing.)
After hugging Anjali goodbye, the women file out into the night, pronouncing the experience “intriguing,” “worth thinking about” and “energizing.” Though I have a feeling Paula is going home to give hubby what-for. $30 per person, http://www.baltimoreyogavillage.com
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horrified. That’s the only word to describe my initial reaction to the idea of flotation therapy. Floating in a saltwater sensory deprivation tank did not sound peaceful fun to me. I’m the kind of gal who rarely has her nails done because I can’t stand the thought of sitting there literally watching paint dry. Seriously, I’ve got shit to do. Then there’s my very active imagination. I can honestly convince myself that somehow a shark has been released into a swimming pool and jump out in a panic. In fact, the last time I took a bath was 18 years ago, when I was hugely pregnant with my daughter. Problem was, I made the bath too hot and the baby started kicking furiously and I thought, “I’m boiling the baby!” Relaxing? I think not.
My mother forbade me from this assignment unless there was some sort of escape hatch or panic button. I read accounts of a scientist accidentally being left to float for hours…hours! And the video on the website—meant to promote all the awesome effects of flotation therapy—was a super-trippy lecture by Joe Rogan. Yes, Joe Rogan, the host of “Fear Factor” is the industry spokesman!
I considered drinking heavily before my appointment.
When I arrive at Hope Floats in Bethesda, much to my delight, it isn’t the creepy basement of some old hippie’s house. In fact, it’s lovely—plank wood floors, soothing blue walls and Pottery Barn beach house furniture. Kimberly Boone and Lynette D’Arco, two beautiful blondes in their mid-40s, greet me and spend time making me feel comfy.
Both are very open about being recovering addicts. Kim explains that some people suffering from depression and anxiety turn to drugs and alcohol for relief—and she stumbled upon flotation therapy when seeking a non-medical path to peace. Turns out, flotation therapy is also used by professional athletes—not just for muscle recovery but for intense visualization. It’s being studied as a therapy for patients with POTS and children with ADD. And a group of new moms suffering from postpartum depression are finding help at Hope Floats.
In the tank, I’m told, one experiences a different level of consciousness. With no sights or sounds to distract, the mind is set free. Plus, since the water is the same temperature as your body, you almost forget it’s there and feel completely unrestricted by the physical world. But my first stop is the infrared sauna—designed to help me sweat out toxins and open my pores so I can better absorb the magnesium (known for its ability to calm the nervous system) once I’m in the water.
After 30 minutes I shower and meet Kim, who shows me how to get into the “float capsule” (a fiberglass tank about 4 feet high filled half-way with warm water and 800 pounds of Epsom Salts) and close the door. That was a relief. I had been worried that I would have to walk into the tank naked, in front of a stranger, who would shut me in from the outside.
The first 10 to 15 minutes of floatation therapy are supposed to be the worst. To help get me through the adjustment period, Kim pipes music into the tank. I float on my back with my eyes closed. I feel my hands touch my hips and worry that the sensation will distract me, but I remember that in a yoga class, I had been taught to rest with my palms facing up during Savasana. So I turn my hands over and they gently float away from my body.
Then it happens. The calming chimes and chanting on the soundtrack transition to…a whale song. I swear, the water vibrates! OMG OMG OMG. But I breathe my way through it, clear my mind of to-do lists, and eventually settle into a deep state of relaxation for the rest of my 60 minute float.
“You’re glowing,” Lynette observes when I come out to the main area, feeling a bit woozy as if I had napped. “You’ll feel it in an hour or two. You’ll see the world with a greater acuity.”
Lynette urges me to come back for a “free second float”—something they offer to everyone, as the first session is more about calming your fears and the second is when the real benefits kick in. Maybe I will. I did feel great all day—happy, more relaxed. Was it the float? Hell if I know. But I can tell you one thing for sure: nobody bothers Mommy in the flotation tank. 60-minute float with 30-minute sauna, $100. http://www.hopefloatsusa.com
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Photographed by David Stuck
Event stylist and graphic designer Jennifer Walter, of Fold Invites, invited Baltimore STYLE into her lovely Baltimore County home for the holidays. Check out her delightful array of decorations—and get a few tips for decking your own halls this season. (Hint: it’s all about pops of color and personal details.)
Photography by David Stuck
The Give Corps team in their Charles Village office in Miller’s Court, an urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits.
What do you get when you mix cutting-edge technology, time-tested business strategy and a passionate desire to change the world? Enter Give Corps, a Charles Village-based start-up dedicated to turning Millennials and other folks with not-so-deep pockets into philanthropists.
Founded by Jamie McDonald, a former managing director and co-head of private equity coverage at Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown for 16 years, Give Corps represents McDonald’s long-awaited opportunity to use her business acumen to impact the community in a profound way.
“It’s the culmination of all my life experiences—a way to bring together my previous career with my entrepreneurial spirit and live my passion,” she says.
After leaving Deutsche Bank in 2008, McDonald served as capital campaign chair for one of her favorite nonprofits, The Center for Urban Families. During the campaign, she became convinced of the Internet’s power as a tool for philanthropy and community engagement, especially for young adults.
“We all saw what happened in the 2008 presidential campaign. Not only did the Obama camp engage large numbers of young people online, but they also got people of modest means to donate. These people gave because they wanted to be part of a movement,” she says.
Give Corps utilizes a “give to get” model to entice young, socially conscious citizens to contribute to causes such as homelessness, hunger, education, health care, animal rights and the environment. Donors can make one-time gifts, purchase a “givecard” for a friend or create a Giving Account where they pledge to donate a certain amount—as low as $3 a month—to their cause(s) of choice.
To date, more than 225 nonprofits have benefited from the generosity of more than 7,000 Baltimoreans, who have made 11,000 donations serving more than 50,000 of our neighbors in need.
The site provides immediate gratification for donors who can see, for example, that their $15 donation to a children’s literacy organization will pay for craft supplies for a month or that a $35 donation provides an environmental organization enough trash bags to remove up to 2,500 pounds of trash from a local stream.
“The beauty of the website’s technology is that it provides a personalized experience that values donors of all levels,” says new CEO Vince Talbert, who was a founder of Bill Me Later and most recently a V.P. with eBay/PayPal. “The giver feels special, can see the impact of their gift and can connect with other givers and their community.”
As an added incentive, each time users make a donation, they get to select a reward in the form of a special offer or discount from one of Give Corps’ merchant partners, such as South Moon Under, Taharka Brothers and Charm City Run.
“It’s a perk for donors—and also a way for us to help drive traffic to civic-minded businesses,” says Peter Jackson, vice president of merchant and nonprofit relationships who serves as the “face” of Give Corps around Charm City. His primary role is to extend the brand beyond cyberspace by hosting networking happy hours, fundraising marathons and other events that encourage the Give Corps community to connect in real life.
That can help maximize results for organizations such as Moveable Feast, a Baltimore nonprofit that provides meals and other services to homebound people living with HIV/AIDS. Give Corps fundraisers who participated in the charity’s annual Ride for the Feast bike ride raised almost $50,000—in addition to more than $15,000 that was raised through smaller projects online.
“I love helping the nonprofits maximize their impact,” says Jackson. “It’s great to be part of a rapidly changing company that’s involved with doing good in Baltimore. Especially now, I feel like there’s a lot of energy bubbling up. The city has problems but there are lots of creative solutions.”
“The idea that you don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist really resonates with people and with our organization,” adds Ted Blankenship, Moveable Feast’s director of development, who describes Give Corps as a low-cost, low-effort way to raise awareness and funds from Generation Y donors. “Give Corps has allowed us to market ourselves to a population we might otherwise not have been able to reach. Our investment has been hugely successful.”
Yes, Give Corps is a for-profit company—something McDonald equates to the likes of Starbucks and TOMS Shoes which also have socially conscious business models.
“When I thought of how to change the world, I wanted to hire the best people who shared my passion,” says McDonald. “I wanted to give equity to employees so they could share in the good things that happen for our company—and I wanted them to stick around. Often times, when you work for a nonprofit, you have to keep leaving one job for another because that’s the only way you can increase your salary.”
Give Corps earns profits by charging organizations 4 percent of donations collected through the site. The company’s newest revenue generator is Give Corps Pro, a turnkey software program that helps organizations create customized fundraising portals. It’s proving especially popular with colleges hoping to engage recent graduates.
“We have 12 software clients—six colleges and six other types of nonprofits,” says McDonald. “We’re really flying now.”
Speaking of flying, the Give Corps staff is feverishly working to prepare for Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3—the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Our goal is to make Baltimore the givingest city per capita in America,” says McDonald, whose business will serve as a convening marketing partner for the national event. “We’re hoping to raise $5 million dollars in a single day. It’s ambitious, but I have a good feeling.
I have my rose-colored glasses on.”
Photographed by Nemo Niemann at The 13th Floor in the Historic Belvedere
LUCK be a… knock-out statement with a media mix of textures. Cashmere intarsia-knit boyfriend sweater by Autumn Cashmere, at Nordstrom, Towson, and The Red Garter, Pikesville. Faux-fur bomber jacket at Octavia, Cross Keys Village. Leather jeans and iridescent clutch bag, both by Halston Heritage, at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Studded leather fingerless gloves by Michael Kors, at Nordstrom. Vintage rhinestone paste earrings at Bijoux Inspired Jewels, Green Spring Station.
LUCK be a… dose of modern color blocking, set off by rich neutrals. Wool and silk blend coat by Etro, and black iridescent slim pants by True Royal, both at Ruth Shaw, Cross Keys. Detachable crystal fox cuffs by Debbie Swartz for Mano Swartz Furs, Green Spring Station. Gold-plated, button-drop earrings by Robert Lee Morris at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Hammered gold ring at L’Apparenza, Mt. Washington. Velvet box bag, from The Cromwell Blake Vintage Collection, at Love Me Two Times, Wyndhurst Station.
LUCK be a… menswear look done HER way! Metallic jacquard-print tuxedo jacket by Diane von Furstenberg at Urban Chic, Harbor East, and Nordstrom, Towson. Stretch wool tuxedo pants by Vince at L’Apparenza, Mount Washington. Patent-leather oxfords by Enzo Angiolini at Nordstrom, Towson. Gold metal French cuff bracelet at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys.
LUCK be a… one-of-a-kind vintage treasure that you won’t see on anyone else. Circa 1970 iridescent silk-brocade maxi dress, from The Cromwell Blake Collection, at Love Me Two Times, Wyndhurst Station. Cashmere opera-length, fingerless gloves at Jill Andrews Gowns, Hampden. Bold gold cuff from Jones & Jones. Aubergine suede booties by Dolce Vita, at Nordstrom. Detachable, multicolor fur neck-piece by Debbie Swartz, at Mano Swartz Furs, at Green Spring Station.
LUCK be a… tailored knit suit as cozy as your favorite PJs. Textured boucle, cotton-blend seamed blazer and matching sweatpants by Rag & Bone, at Nordstrom, Towson. Bug-print resin cuffs at Octavia, Cross Keys. Cat collar at Dogma, Mount Washington.
*As luck would have it, this gorgeous, sweet kitty called Rosie is currently up for adoption at the Maryland SPCA.
LUCK be a… luxe coat that makes an artistic statement. Lightweight wool-boucle coat with cashmere embroidered detail designed by Ella Pritsker of Ella Moda Custom Couture, Timonium. Embossed leather belt at Ruth Shaw. Embellished gold cuffs and gold-plated drop earrings, both at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Over- the-knee leather boots by Stuart Weitzman at Matava Shoes, Green Spring Station. Alligator skin handbag, from the Cromwell Blake Vintage Collection, at Vogue Revisited, Roland Park.
The Art of Fashion: Abstract “live event painting” by fine artist Patricia Bennett, http://www.patriciabennettstudio.com.
LUCK be a… new take on the classic LBD. Fit-and-flare, neoprene shift dress with a godet paneled skirt and back lacing detail by Tracy Reese at Jones & Jones, Cross Keys. Cerulean blue cashmere-blend blazer by Akris, at Nordstrom, Towson. Pewter hoop earrings and “bones” cuff, both by Martha Rotten, at Paradiso, Hampden.
Beauty Buzz: For a festive berry-stained pout, try No Worries’ Lipstick Gloss in “Mula,” exclusively at No Worries Salon & Cosmetics, Towson.
See and Be Chic: All dressed up but nowhere to go? Follow the fashion crowd to The 13th Floor at The Belvedere, where the festive menu and chic ambience set the scene for an unforgettable view of Charm City. All profits from every 13th Floor-customized bottle of champagne goes to benefit pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins.
Digital Imaging: Nemo Niemann. Model: Caroline Reddy/Fenton Moon Media, NYC. Cat: Rosie/MD SPCA. Hair & Makeup: Karen Panoch/Wilhelmina Creative, Miami. Fashion & Set Styling Assistant: Victoria Adinolfi. Photo Assistant: Tom Snyder. Photo crew food catered by the 13th Floor. Special thanks to: Averil Christens-Barry at Truffles Catering & Belvedere Restaurant Group; cat handler Kate Creamer from the MD SPCA, and live event artist Patricia Bennett.
In less than an hour’s drive, you could be gazing at some of the most iconic paintings of all time at the Phillips Collection (aka America’s original museum of modern art, founded in 1921). Van Gogh Repetitions is the Phillips’ first-ever exhibition dedicated to the ear-slicing master’s work, including landscapes and portraits borrowed from the world’s most renowned Van Gogh collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and more. The 35-piece exhibit includes several examples of the Post-Impressionist’s “repetitions,” a term coined by the artist to describe his process of creating multiple versions of his own works, along with those of other artists such as Gauguin, Daumier, and Rembrandt. Van Gogh once said of his work, “One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds.” Of course, today, we consider them all masterpieces. Through Jan. 26, 2014, http://www.phillipscollection.org.
Photography by Justin Tsucalas
B—A Bolton Hill Bistro, Bolton Hill
Training: Studied at L’Academie de Cuisine. Worked with chef Bob Kincead at Colvin Run Tavern.
Favorite holiday food: Anything that goes with a big glass of Bordeaux.
“Step one: pour nice glass of red. Take your time. Plan accordingly. Don’t stress out, it’s just cooking. Guests always love what you make.”
Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs with Country Jalapeno Cheddar Grits
Yields 10-15 appetizer portions
10 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
1⁄4 cup garlic, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 bottle red wine (preferably cabernet sauvignon)
6-10 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dry
1 large onion, diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 quarts veal stock or beef broth
For the ribs:
Add salt and pepper to flour to season. Then season all ribs and with salt and pepper being careful to season all sides. Then dredge seasoned ribs in seasoned flour.
Heat skillet over medium to high heat. Add enough oil to topcoat bottom of hot skillet and sear all sides of ribs until brown (add more oil, if needed, during searing process). In Dutch oven or large pot with lid cook thyme, celery, garlic, carrot and onion until they soften and begin to release liquid. Arrange ribs on top of vegetables. Combine wine and stock and pour over ribs.
Place in Dutch oven at 235 degrees for 10-12 hours. (Alternatively, recipe can be cooked in a Crock-Pot on low temperature for 6-8 hours.)
Let cool to room temperature and carefully remove ribs (they will be fragile).
(Note: Can be frozen until needed. Let thaw in refrigerator. Reheat in oven at 350 degrees with beef stock.)
For the grits:
Milk (amount as directed on box of grits)
Cheddar cheese (to taste)
Jalapeno, chopped (to taste)
Butter (to taste)
Follow directions on box using half water and half milk. Cook until desired consistency. Finish with chopped jalapenos, cheddar cheese and butter to taste.
Towson Tavern, Towson
Training: Honors student at Baltimore International College. Studied abroad in Ireland.
Favorite holiday food: Classic—turkey, spiral cut ham, creamed corn, creamed spinach.
“This salad is a twist on a classic. I add apricots for sweetness and crisp-fry the shiitake to add a little crunch in every bite.”
Warm Spinach Salad
Yields 1 salad
4 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 ounces apricot/bacon vinaigrette
1 ounce red onion, slivered
1 hard-boiled egg, diced
1 ounce Crispy Fried Shiitake Mushroom
For the vinaigrette:
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces brown sugar
½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
¾ cup orange juice
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
1 ounce whole grain mustard
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Place the bacon in a cold stockpot and cook on medium-high heat. Once the bacon has just started to crisp, add the shallots and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and apricots, and then stir for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and place into a blender or food processor. Blend until it becomes a smooth purée.
For the mushrooms:
2 cups vegetable oil
1 ounce shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
Place vegetable oil into a medium stockpot and heat on medium-high heat. Julienne the shiitake mushroom caps and place into the hot oil. Let cook until they begin to shrink and become crispy. Once crisp remove from the hot oil and toss with a small amount of salt and pepper.
For assembling the salad: In a large mixing bowl toss the spinach with the warm dressing and place into a salad bowl. Top the salad with the slivered red onion, hardboiled egg and finish with the crispy fried shiitake mushroom and serve.
Sascha’s 527 Cafe, Mount Vernon
Training: Self-taught with inspiration from her mother—a world traveler who wouldn’t hesitate to march into a kitchen in Portugal and learn what the chef was doing.
Favorite holiday food: Magret de canard. The French ducks are leaner than ours. Everything in France is skinnier—like the women. The ducks follow suit.
“Treat your guests to something people don’t often eat—something rich and delicious, like duck.”
Duck Breast with Cherry and Port Wine Sauce
8 boneless duck breasts
½ cup dried cherries
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 small shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 cup of port wine
2cups fresh (or frozen) black cherries
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Score the skin of the duck breast in diamond fashion. Try not to score down to the breast meat.
Heat port wine over low heat until warm. Add ½ cup dried cherries and allow to steep.
Season duck breast liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a large skillet over medium heat place the duck breasts skin side down. Sear the breasts until the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Place the seared duck breasts in a baking dish skin side up and put them in oven. (Can be done in advance. Before serving, remove duck from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.)
Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes for medium to medium rare. Remove, tent with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes.
Pour off most of the duck fat. (Hint: reserve duck fat for other dishes.) Place some of the duck fat into a skillet, over medium heat. Add shallots and ginger and sauté until translucent. Pour in port, orange juice and the stock, picking up any bits from the sauté pan. Add orange zest and fresh cherries to pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce reduces. Smash some of the fresh cherries to thicken. Add dried cherries.
Slice duck breast on diagonal and nap with sauce.
Training: Dishwasher (”and it was not cool”). Then McCafferty’s in Baltimore.
Favorite holiday food: Food is sentimental. It reminds me of my my mother and grandmother—the good feelings of my formative years. My family were hunters and watermen and would always have wild game like venison, goose and duck.
“This recipe is Maryland. It represents the Bay. It’s home to me. The kale is a nod to our Southern roots. And the sweet potatoes are sweet. It’s the holidays!”
Oyster, Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin with Rye Whiskey
1 pint shucked oysters, reserve liquor
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup rye whiskey
Salt and pepper
1 1⁄2 cups sweet potato, cubed and cooked
1 cup kale, julienned and blanched
2 pinches fresh grated nutmeg
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 cups potato roll crumbs, toasted
Begin by sautéing onion and garlic in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir often until flour smells nutty and is light brown in color. Next, add whiskey, cream, milk and oyster liquor. Stir until thick and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. (Don’t hesitate to be generous with the black pepper. It brings out great flavors in the rye.)
Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and kale and chill the whole mix for a couple of hours.
Remove from refrigerator and spoon mixture into a 3-quart gratin dish or a couple of pie plates. Nestle the oysters in the cream (the more the merrier) and top with potato breadcrumbs. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with green onions and parsley.
Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia
Training: Baltimore International College. Working internship in Ireland. Graduated with Le Grande Diplome from London’s
Le Cordon Bleu.
Favorite holiday foods: Fall and winter ingredients: pears, apples, figs, pumpkins, root vegetables, beets, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
“Keep it simple! Don’t over-design the menu, which creates unnecessary stress.”
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cider
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces shallots
4 ounces pancetta, diced
4 ounces chicken stock
4 ounces apple cider
1 tablespoon butter, cold
Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same pan and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cider. Simmer until the Brussels sprouts have a light glaze, about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sotto Sopra, Mount Vernon
Training: French Culinary Institute in New York
Favorite holiday food: My grandmother makes the best whoppie pies. If we didn’t have them at Christmas, my whole family would be upset. We’d throw the turkey out the window.
“Make your desserts ahead of time. Some chefs swear they taste better the next day.”
Frozen Eggnog with Cinnamon Cream Filled Gingerbread Cookies
For the gingerbread cookies
(Yields about 8-10 cookies)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup molasses syrup
5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and set the oven racks in the middle. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Next add in the molasses and vanilla.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add into the butter/syrup mixture in two batches, mixing only long enough to incorporate the flour.
Roll out on a floured surface, cut into desired gingerbread shape and place onto cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees until the edges are lightly golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool as you are making the filling.
For the cinnamon cream filling:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup spiced rum
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar. Next add in the egg white. Then add in the remaining ingredients and beat until all are incorporated. Sandwich using the cooled gingerbread cookies.
For eggnog ice cream:
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup egg yolks
1⁄3 cup ground nutmeg
½ cup dark rum
Using a large metal or plastic bowl, fill half way with ice and water. Set aside for later.
In a sauce pot, bring to a boil the milk, cream, rum and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Once the liquid is to a boil, pour
1 cup into the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk quickly to prevent the yolks from scrambling. Return liquid to the pot with the remaining cream/milk and cook for
1 minute, while whisking constantly.
Remove from the heat and immediately place into a container. Set the container in larger bowl with water and ice. Let cool for 1-2 hours. Process in an ice cream machine.
Place the eggnog ice cream in a blender and add a little milk. Blend together until the consistency of a thick milkshake is achieved. Pour into a glass and set the sandwiched cookies next to the glass. Enjoy!
Ryan Travers and Josh Bosstick
Of Love & Regret, Canton
Training: Bosstick’s dad owned a liquor store. Josh trained at Grano Emporio and Wine Market Bistro. Travers and his wife owned a small beer bar in Brunswick, Maine.
Favorite holiday spirit: This dynamic bar-tending duo concocts all their craft cocktail recipes together—and both say scotch is their go-to holiday drink.
“This is like a holiday dinner in a drink—using scotch as the backbone with cardamom and cinnamon flavors. Topped off with the crème brûlee as dessert.”
Fireside Chats with Charles MacLean
Makes 1 cocktail
1½ ounces Glenrothes Select Reserve
1½ ounces Velvet Falernum
¾ ounce Cardamaro
¾ ounce Becherovka
Shaken over rocks with egg white until foamy. Use bar spoon to layer froth on top. Lightly torch froth with crème brûlee torch to caramelize. Top with freshly shaved cinnamon.
It’s no secret that Savvy is a vintage hound as well as a relentless Baltimore booster, so how could she resist a shop that combines retro chic with local business support? Viva is an online retailer and pop-up shop that has the rage for all things “Mad Men” covered. Emerald green bombshell dress? Check. Floral-embroidered pin-up sweater? Check. Vintage-inspired coffee-table books? Check. And, of course, polka dots, stripes and leopard prints galore. Though Savvy blanches at the acres of ink that festoon modern-day gals, she knows that others beg to differ, so she would be remiss if she didn’t mention the tattoo-inspired clothing and home goods as well. (Those go over particularly well when the shop pops up at Charm City Roller Girls bouts). Did we mention they serve sizes 2 to 4X? http://www.vivacharmcity.com
Champagne is synonymous with the holidays, from cheerful gatherings with family and friends to bubbly toasts at midnight on New Years Eve. This drink is a delightful, low sugar interpretation of the classic French 75. Fresh pressed or organic pear juice adds color, texture and charm (given the cocktail’s title) while Dorothy Parker gin is the perfect botanical spirit for the season.
1 oz organic or fresh pressed pear juice
1 oz Dorothy Parker gin
3 oz Brut Champagne
Juice from 1/4 small lemon
Thinly sliced ripe pear
Combine gin, pear juice and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Fill flute with champagne. Garnish with a twist of lemon and pear slice.
By Ginny Lawhorn, award-winning bartender at Landmark Theatres, Harbor East and founder of Tend for a Cause.
Forget the North Pole, foodies. Your holiday present will arrive courtesy of the East Pole, a sensational new restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Coming right on the heels of a successful three-year run at the hip Fat Radish (on the Lower East side), chef Nicholas Wilber is now serving his fresh produce-driven fare to the posh set who come to the sleek, minimalist space to enjoy his famous Scotch egg, grilled cheese with pickles and other creative comfort foods. Even if you opt for the far-too-sensible steamed-veggie Macro Plate, consider sharing the “adult” ice cream sundae scattered with Pimm’s-soaked cherries for dessert. Let’s face it: after battling the crowds (and Christmas elves) at Bloomies, you deserve a sugar buzz before hopping on the Bolt bus to to Bawlmer. http://www.theeastpolenyc. com. —S.E.
As if Savvy didn’t have enough temptations in Harbor East, along comes a new place to put the Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens to shame. Interior decorator Katie DeStefano’s Curiosity is a feast for the senses—all of them. From the breathtaking gold-leaf celestial maps by Christopher Wilcox to the food products by Bellocq Tea Atelier to the porcelain flower diffusers by Giardino di Fiori to the colorful enamel Gecko bracelets by Fornash (an O-List pick), it’s impossible not to find something you like. And with prices ranging from five bucks to $5,000, there’s a gift for everyone on your list. Savvy is particularly taken with the handstitched tea towels from Catstudio’s Geography Collection, silk-screened with maps from around the world; little beauties that satisfy both her frivolous and practical sides. 1000 Lancaster, entrance on S. Exeter, 410-727-6262, http://www.curiosityforthehome.com
The other day I was meandering through a department store when a purse caught my eye. I picked it up, slung it over my shoulder and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
I recoiled in horror: It was an old lady’s bag.
I all but flung it back onto the shelf as if an errant spider had landed on my arm.
So this is how it happens, I thought. Not with a bang, but with a whimper, one innocent purse purchase at a time. Next thing you know my candy dishes will start spontaneously filling with Caramel Nips and my pockets with crumpled Kleenex. I’ll start buying “slacks” and insisting on wrapping up the contents of restaurant bread baskets to take home from my early bird dinners.
I have just celebrated my 45th birthday. I am, by any reasonable definition, solidly, inescapably middle-aged. I have all of the trappings of a full-fledged grown-up: I own a home. I pay taxes. I (mostly) remember to floss and get a yearly mammogram. I was just written a prescription for progressive lenses and have come to terms with the fact that I will never win a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal. I realized not long ago that I am no longer a contemporary of the contestants on shows like American Idol, but rather of their parents, those, those—middle-aged people!—who hover in the wings. And so it goes. Whimpers, not bangs.
And yet, despite the fact that I find gray strands on my head with alarming regularity, my overwhelming response to all of this is a feeling of indignant incredulity. THIS CAN’T REALLY BE HAPPENING! I’M STILL JUST A KID!
I know exactly when it started. I was in my late 20s, still single and living in an apartment in D.C.’s Dupont Circle. A dear friend and her new husband had just bought their first home together, a gleaming, sturdy Colonial in a tree-filled Howard County suburb. They had grown-up furniture and a spare bedroom and a lawn mower. They invited me over for dinner one night not long after they moved in and as we sat in the kitchen, lingering over post-dinner coffee, I burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” my friends asked.
“I keep waiting for the parents to come home,” I confessed.
As the last of five children, being young has always been a central part of my identity. “So you’re the baby!” people would say knowingly when they met me. Being the youngest had weight. It meant something about my place in and view of the world. But it also meant that I spent my childhood with my nose pressed against the metaphorical glass, impatiently watching as my four older brothers got to navigate the sophisticated life waters ahead. The eldest was bar mitzvahed when I was still in diapers; he left for college just before I started second grade.
I came to believe that only age conferred privilege and credibility. I longed to be older, to cast off my youth like an albatross. I wanted to hurry through and get to the next thing, the next phase, the next milestone, just as I had watched my brothers before me. I couldn’t wait to finally arrive and be handed the keys to the kingdom of adulthood. But like a dog perpetually chasing its tail, it never seemed to dawn on me that I would never, ever catch up to them, and if I didn’t take the time to enjoy things while they were happening, that I’d miss out.
I was also the child of older parents. Their 1940s high school yearbooks seemed as quaintly old-fashioned to me as if they’d been born in Colonial times. Their taste in music never evolved much past the Big Band era. But that somehow only solidified their Grownup ™ status to me. They’d been around. They knew the ropes.
Even now that I’m a parent myself, I still can’t shake that impostor feeling, still can’t wait to legitimately arrive. Where? I’m not sure. But surely my kids can’t really think I’m a grown-up? I still have no idea how to change a tire or what the Federal Reserve does, exactly. The workings of the boiler
remain a total mystery, and I’m fuzzy at best on my world history.
And yet, there’s my 1980s high school yearbook. It may not be in black and white, but it looks unmistakably, almost comically dated. The ’80s station I often listen to in the car plays songs that are just as old as Tommy Dorsey’s were when I was in elementary school. My pre-Internet childhood seems as unimaginable to my kids as my parents’ pre-television ones did to me. I have no clue what kinds of clothes teenage girls think are cool anymore. More whimpers. No bangs. It just kind of…happens.
But then my 9-year-old looks up from his book and asks, “Mom, what does ‘mum’s the word’ mean?” and I know I can answer with total confidence. I know how to drive a car and order books online. I can make dinner magically appear on the table and clean clothes emerge from the tangle in the hamper. I’ve been around. I know the ropes.
Not long ago, my 6-year-old was home sick. I mopped his feverish brow and rubbed his back. And then something came out of my mouth that I remembered my own mother saying to me. They were the words that always made me feel better, because grown-ups always knew what to do.
“Don’t worry. Mama’s going to take care of you,” I heard myself murmuring reassuringly.
I saw the way my son relaxed in response. He doesn’t need to know that I sometimes feel like I’m making it up as I go along. I realized that my mother probably did, too, and her mother before her. And maybe that’s the most grown-up realization of all.
Jennifer Mendelsohn lives in Mount Washington with her husband and their two boys. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, People, Slate and USA Weekend. She also serves as one of Us Weekly’s Fashion Police “Top Cops.”
Bottega is modeled on a place Adrien Aeschliman managed in the Mugello Valley in Tuscany that he describes as “a workman’s lunch trattoria.” Though “it was an ugly restaurant,” he says, people drove from Florence and Bologna to eat there. “I took the name and I’m trying to copy what they had.”
Aeschliman moved with his family to Europe when he was 7, and he’s lived in France, Italy, Switzerland and England, returning to the U.S. to attend college (“I went to six”), finishing up at Queens College in New York City. Along the way, he worked at plenty of restaurants, though none in the fine dining category.
Aeschliman’s rustic boutique BYOB in Station North manages to feel upscale but organic—the kind of place where you can linger with friends for a two-hour dinner without feeling rushed. (That’s saying something for a 16-seat hot spot.)
Describing the restaurant as Tuscan influenced “is a way to avoid saying we’re seasonal and farm-to-table,” explains Aeschliman. “Tuscany has four seasons and the food traditions follow them.”
A Day in the Life. Aeschliman recruited brother-in-law Sandy Smith, who interned at Woodberry Kitchen, as his chef, but he still does a lot of the cooking. “In the mornings, I’m in the back trying to figure out what the menu is,” he says. “We make ragus about once a week and we’re closed Monday and Tuesday so that’s when we do most of the sauces.”
Food Turn-ons. Pasta specials change every few days and have included ravioli with butternut squash and butter sage sauce, and pappardelle with boar ragu and juniper berries. There’s a smoked goose and scarlet frill appetizer on mustard greens dressed with preserved cherry mostarda. Another crowd-pleaser is malfatti —which means “badly made”—essentially ravioli filling without the pasta.
Adventurous Eats. “I’ve spent a lot of time deboning rabbits lately,” adds Aeschliman, who says most people who order rabbit at Bottega are eating it for the first time. “I stuffed them with sage and ham, tied them and roasted them off.”
Décor. Much of the interior materials come from a barn and cottage in Harpers Ferry. Aeschliman found the condemned property on Craigslist and got to it before the local fire department could incinerate it as a drill. The bentwood chairs are a mix of original turnof- the-century Thonet café chairs and reproductions rescued from a “cheesy old lounge in Detroit.”
Drinks & Dessert. “I’m not looking to get a liquor license,” says Aeschliman, who grew up drinking only water and wine. He’s in the process of courting a pastry chef, but has made a salted caramel chocolate pie borrowed from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn restaurant Marlow and Sons. “I used to live right above them,” he says. “We’d go down and get pie every night.” 1729 Maryland Ave., 443-708-5709, http://www.bottega1729.com
Before opening By Degrees Café, a decidedly not-too-schmancy 47-seat eatery in a renovated industrial space between Harbor East and Little Italy, Omar Semidey (who has been schooled by some of the country’s top chefs) did his homework. “We took a look at the market to see what other restaurants in the neighborhood were doing,” he says. “But then we changed it—only by a few degrees.” Get it? This subtle shift in the culinary landscape translates into a pared-down, reasonably priced menu of “simple foods with a twist,” according to the chef/owner, who has also worked at The Wine Market and Fleet Street Kitchen. For example, Semidey’s butternut squash soup has a touch of curry and his BLT is made with apple-wood smoked bacon, fresh greens, cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli on a baguette. Naturally, the lunchbox specials have already become popular with the Legg Mason and Laureate set. For those sometimes-necessary “liquid lunches” (or dinners), there’s a small but well-edited beer and wine list, too. No dress code, no reservations—and free parking. (A welcome treat downtown.) 415 S. Central Ave, http://www.bydegreescafe.com
Pies get a lot of love around the holidays, and rightly so. But as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to a quick and easy dish that’s heavy on the “wow” factor, a good tart can’t be beat. Plus, because it doesn’t have a pasty topping like pie, you can eat twice as much. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)
The Ember Day tart is based on a medieval recipe for a fast-day meatless tart of cheese, onions and parsley. It’s quite rich—and I promise you won’t feel as if you’re fasting after you’ve had a slice! Don’t skimp on the saffron; that’s what makes this dish truly special.
For the leek and potato tart, I took inspiration from the British dish of creamed leeks and added a touch of tarragon. Potatoes and leeks are a classic combination, and they work beautifully here on the crunchy, buttery puff pastry crust.
The Afghan-style pumpkin tartlet with yogurt dressing is my homage to the kaddo borwani at The Helmand. The sweet pumpkin and the tangy, garlicky yogurt play well together—and it’s a fun pumpkin presentation that you don’t normally see at the typical Western holiday table.
Finally, the sweet and spicy pear torte isn’t technically a tart at all, as it’s more cake-y and made with nut flour, but why split hairs? After all, a pear tart by any other name would taste as sweet.
Unpretentious. That’s what the owners of Tavern on the Hill, who prefer to be known by their first names—Steve and Lee—had in mind when they opened their new bar/restaurant in Mount Vernon. “This neighborhood is kind of fancy and we wanted a place that was more laid back. Everyone feels comfortable here,” says Steve.
Chef Tim Engle’s menu includes basic tavern fare like the Three’s Company—an overstuffed sandwich with corned beef, turkey and roast beef—along with eight kinds of hot dogs, beautiful burgers and entrees ranging from barbecued brisket with veggies and roasted potatoes to N.Y. strip steak with blue cheese cream sauce. Bonus: they also serve breakfast all day.
Looking exclusively to imbibe? Ask award-winning bartender Jeff Levy for your Whiskey Loyalty Program punch card to keep tabs on your consumption. The 11th whiskey is on the house! 900 Cathedral St., 410-230-5400, http://www.tavernonthehillmtvernon.com
The old song says “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” but in our consumer culture, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas before Labor Day. So by the time the bleak midwinter rolls around, one might’ve had just about all the tidings of comfort and joy they can stand.
The pop psychology holds that Christmas is a “stressful” time. (Perhaps you need a hug?) And it’s not merely Mall Mom Goes Commando Over Last Tickle Me Elmo Doll. Or the cherished seasonal custom of dueling religious symbols—the crèche versus the menorah—like festive fisticuffs. Or the dreadful Christmas movies. (If there’s a hell, its denizens are watching “Home Alone 4” on a loop.) The season is inescapable.
I once went to have an MRI at Christmastime. When the nurses put the headphones on me, there was some sort of malfunction. I listened to Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” for 40 minutes. This does not bring out the good will in men.
These days, my family is trying to reduce the stress of the season. We still put up a Christmas tree, but I am under court order never to buy anything for my wife or daughter. (I’ve made some mistakes.) So now, my crowning achievement is not sending Christmas cards.
My wife’s handwriting is illegible. Most of the cards she would send (always late) would be returned as undeliverable. (Little problem with the address book, too.) So now we send cards on a triage basis. Guilt cards. If someone sends us a card, we send one back. No question about it, we’re getting fewer Christmas cards. And we’re sending fewer, too.
The Internet and the price of stamps sounded the death knell for season’s greetings. A first-class stamp is now 46 cents. A Christmas card costs maybe $2. Well, as they say, do the math. You can get quite a nice bottle of Glenmorangie for the price of a couple of dozen cards and have yourself a merry little Christmas, too.
Last year it was nigh impossible to even buy a Christmas stamp. At the little post office I go to the clerks just shrugged. The old people I heard asking for Christmas stamps seemed genuinely crestfallen. Eventually, the Christmas stamps appeared—in April! (Isn’t that in “Ernest Saves Christmas”?)
During the yuletide gay, most of the cards I now get are form letters from wise men—stockbrokers, lawyers and insurance agents. They speak to the real meaning of the holiday understood by Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge. Money. These men do not, as the bumper sticker puts it, “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” They NEVER use the word Christmas on anything. Season’s Greetings! Happy Holidays!
But we do still get the occasional unctuous Christmas letter, which surely will survive the demise of the Christmas card. Hell, it may survive Christianity. That’s simply because the Christmas letter is not about Christmas but about the sender of the letter. It’s a chance to boast, brag and bray. Many are illustrated now, too.
People you see every day rarely send Christmas letters—largely because such missives are tissues of half-truths (all the children are geniuses), wild embellishments, (exotic foreign travel), outright lies (“we bought Nantucket”), falsehoods (son early decision at Yale but going to Sweet Pea State, it’s a family tradition) and fabrications (inventive explanations as to why someone lost or changed jobs).
I can’t wait for these letters to arrive every year. I sit before a roaring fire and read every word, every lie and every fabrication and falsehood. They speak to the real meaning of the season today.
As a person with no more religion than my old cat, I would point out to the theology scholars following along at home that this holiday is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ not Matty Mattel—or your old college roommate’s 14th grandchild (a violin prodigy, you know). But I still love these letters. To me, they’re a lot like the story of Christmas itself.
God bless us everyone.
Although his former flames may wish he remained silenced, John Mayer’s fans are thrilled that he’s fully recovered from throat surgeries and headed back to the Baltimore to promote his newest album, Paradise Valley—which, by the way, features a duet with on/off/on girlfriend and fellow musical heavyweight (yes, it hurts us a little to use that phrase) Katy Perry. As much as we like to mock Mayer for his “douchebaggery” (a noun we made up exclusively for the roguishly handsome singer/songwriter), the guy can write a song. And as every dude-in-a-band we’ve ever dated loves to remind us, “He’s one of the greatest guitar players of our generation, you know?” Yes, we know. We’ll be crying in the front row when Mayer sings “Shadow Days” on Dec. 14 at Baltimore Arena. Bring us a tissue—or a 32-ounce beer, won’t you? Tickets, $45-$75. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Join the brainy madmen of MythBusters for a debaucherous evening of debunking as show co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage share behind-the-scenes scoop, roll mind-blowing footage and bring fans onstage for live experiments. Don’t miss the chance to channel your inner Dr. Strangelove on Dec. 13 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $40-$125. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com
Like beehive hairdos, steamed crabs and John Waters, painted screens scream Baltimore. Although the art form originated in Victorian England, for the past 100 years painted screens have adorned Charm City’s beloved rowhouses—and nobody knows (and loves) them better than Elaine Eff. Join the curator, filmmaker, folklorist and author for a discussion of her new book “The Painted Screens of Baltimore: An Urban Folk Art Revealed” at the Ivy Bookshop on Dec. 18, 8:30 p.m. 6080 Falls Road, http://www.theivybookshop.com.
TEN HUNKS OF CHRISTMAS
We’re Under the Influence of Straight No Chaser, 10 adorable men who decided to go pro after forming an a cappella group at Indiana University back in 1996. The Warblers from “Glee” have nothing on these guys, whose new album boasts guest performances by Cee Lo Green, Jason Mraz and the great Paul McCartney among others. Dec. 12 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $49-$139. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks? The legendary Harlem Globetrotters return to Baltimore Arena for two shows on their “Fans Rule” Tour—incorporating special fan-chosen rules into the act. Watch for the Hot Hand Jersey, Two Ball Basketball and a fantastic Trick Shot Challenge that will have you cheering in your seat. Dec. 28 at Baltimore Arena. Tickets, $15-$117. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
SUGAR PLUM PERFECTION
Unleash your tiny dancer when The Nutcracker comes to the Lyric for four performances featuring 120 students from Baltimore School for the Arts. The ballet showcases the BSO conducted by maestro Andrew Grams (a 1995 BSA alum) and a backdrop designed by current MICA students. Dec. 20-22 at
the Lyric. Tickets, $30-$60. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org —P.W.
We’d bet our tiara that Queen Elizabeth didn’t make Kate Middleton sleep on a stack of mattresses atop a tiny pea to prove she was worthy of royalty. But Prince Erik’s mystery girl has to do just that—and other hilarious tasks in Pumpkin Theatre’s enchanting production of The Princess & The Pea. Dec. 14-22. Tickets $14-$16. http://www.pumpkintheatre.com —Meredith Jacobs
THE ART OF GIVING
Creative types won’t want to miss Maryland Art Place’s first-ever Under $500 Art Sale on Dec. 13. Mingle with local artists, enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres and listen to holiday choral groups while you shop for curated treasures likely worth far more than their sticker price. Tickets, $40-$50. http://www.mdartplace.org —M.J.
Soulful Symphony adds sleigh bells and African drums to its 75-piece symphony orchestra’s holiday musical production, including a rarely heard adaption of Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” featuring two dancers from the acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem. Dec. 14 at the Hippodrome. Tickets, $25-$250. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
Although Evil Hate Monkey has been kidnapped (literally, he’s performing with a bunch of Aussie boylesque stars during an 8-week run in Hamburg, Germany), Trixie Little is still ready to play—at the Creative Alliance, that is. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a virgin attendee, you’re certain to be amazed, astounded and aroused by the 9th annual Holiday Spectac-u-thon. This year, Baltimore’s own Trixie will be joined by emcee Murray Hill and the French horn trio Tres Horny in an outrageous showcase of trapeze, striptease, acrobatics and physical comedy. Merry Christmas! Dec. 19-21. Tickets, $20-$25. http://www.creativealliance.org —S.E.
The all-new stage adaptation of the classic 1954 movie White Christmas arrives in Baltimore with extra Irving Berlin songs, gorgeous sets and a talented cast who can tap-dance their hearts out. Dec. 3-8 at the Hippodrome. 410-547-SEAT, http://www.ticketmaster.com —P.W.
The consequences of war and the enormity of the military’s reach are felt through quiet moments away from combat in An-My Lê’s powerful color and black-and-white images in her Front Room exhibit at the BMA. Though the artist is a Vietnam War refugee who was airlifted out of Saigon in 1975 at age 15, she neither celebrates nor condemns the subjects of her work, but invites viewers to come to their own conclusions. Through Feb. 23. http://www.artbma.org. —J.B.
THREE UNWISE MEN
Playwright Lyle Kessler’s powerful and darkly humorous tale of the role of family, love, nurturing and the lack thereof comes to Fells Point Corner Theatre in Orphans—described by Entertainment Weekly as “a vibrant exploration of masculinity.” The play follows the bungled kidnapping of a mysterious businessman, which leads to explosive ramifications for a violent petty thief, his emotionally fragile brother and their supposed victim. Through Dec. 8. Tickets, $15-$20. http://www.fpct.org —M.J.
Not since Mike Myers starred on “SNL” have Sprockets been so much fun. Hop over to Port Discovery’s Holiday Springs & Sprockets exhibit, featuring large-scale, mechanical sculptures created from recycled materials by renowned artist Steve Gerberich. We’re talking eight life-sized flying reindeer lifted by motor-driven exercise bicycles, a candy cane assembly plant driven by an early 20th-century vertical drill press, and a fully automated cookie workshop. Finally, a place where you can encourage your kids to push a button and see what happens. Through Jan. 26. http://www.portdiscovery.org —J.B.
Call it “contorting to the Christmas classics” as aerialists, jugglers and strongmen do their thing to the accompaniment of favorite holiday songs performed by the BSO. Fans of all ages are certain to flip for Cirque Musica’s Holiday Cirque—a daring exhibition of beauty, talent and strength. Dec. 11-15 at the Meyerhoff. Tickets, $19-$84. 410-783-8000, http://www.bsomusic.org —M.J.
Here at STYLE, we’re snobby about country. (No red Solo cups, thank you.) That’s why we love the versatile Country Devils. This local ensemble is quite a sight to see live, where their infectious energy can turn any venue into a bona fide hoedown.
In the studio, the band’s songwriting shines brightly—punctuated by Mike Beresh’s gorgeous lyrics, which effortlessly weave humor with heartbreak. On their new release The Quick and the Don’t Get Any, the band’s instrumentation of guitar, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, pedal steel guitar and harmonica gel perfectly to create a rootsy/rock soundscape that has become our go-to record for fall road trips.
Standout tracks include “Lenny and Honey” (about Lenny Bruce and his wife, Honey Harlow, who hailed from Baltimore) and the twangy, trumpet-infused “County Employee” about a gal who “ain’t got no babies/she got lots of friends.” But the album’s highest achievement comes from “Beatlemania vs Gun Control”—a rare political turn for the band, which will leave you feeling haunted even as you hum along.
DOWNLOAD THIS: If you’re a fan of Whiskeytown, Old 97‘s and Wilco—or keep vintage copies of No Depression on your bedside table. —Jessica Bizik and Marc Shapiro
WOB is with us. Opening its doors in mid-October, McHenry Row’s new World of Beer offers barstoolexplorers 50 rotating taps, one cask and more than 500 bottle choices, backed up by solid pub fare and a compact wine list for the hopless among us.
Settling in at the long, L-shaped dark wood bar or a nearby hightop, you’ll find a Red Bull-infused staff happy to pour you samples—and almost as knowledgeable about the extensive offerings as they think they are. With a large sheltered patio, a pocket stage for live music and plentiful but silent flat-screens, WOB draws an eclectic crowd on weeknights before shifting into “broverdrive” for the weekend.
Being WOB and not NOB (Nation, natch), the draft options run more toward international standard bearers than exotic domestics, but the draft lineup changes daily and will undoubtedly evolve over time. For now, though, there’s no Boh in WOB. It’s a new world in Locust Point. 1724 Whetstone Way, 410-752-2337, http://www.wobusa.com
Forget a White Christmas, Savvy dreams of easy, results guaranteed holiday shopping. And nobody does it better than the fun-time gals at With Gratitude, a perfectly edited little gift shop in Stoneleigh. Ladies, stop in to fill out your wish list (and check it twice), then send in your significant other for “Chug & Charge” (Dec. 10 from 4-8 p.m.) to pick up the loot—and enjoy a few brews with a bunch of other affable blokes. Just brilliant. 6907 York Road, 410-377-6100, http://www.shopwithgratitude.com
What’s better than watching “I Love Lucy” reruns on TV Land? I Love Lucy Live on Stage, natch. Take a trip down memory lane with this behind-the-scenes Broadway comedy where you’ll become a member of the Desilu Playhouse studio audience during the filming of two of the most memorable episodes from the sitcom’s 1952 season. The robust cast includes strong performances by leads playing the Ricardos and the Mertzes (who steal the show, by the way), an affable announcer and even a seven-piece band that backs up “Ricky” at the Tropicana Nightclub. It’s time to Babalu, baby! Dec. 26-29 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Merriam Theater. Tickets, $25-$75. http://www.kimmelcenter.org. —S.E.
The passing of the late lamented Joanna Gray Shoes left a sad spot in The Shops at Stevenson Village. Until the charming Liza Byrd moved in. Clothes for women, children and men, along with jewelry and home accessories fill this bright little boutique. The Camilla Shirt in earthy paisley channels the Swinging ‘60s, while the Jasmine Party Dresses in black or gold are pure 21stcentury sparkle. You can even get matching mother-daughter frocks based on American Girl dolls. (Yes, that includes an outfit for the doll.) For the gents, there are brilliantly patterned ties—something Savvy thinks fashion-shy men could use more of. The Shops in Stevenson Village, 410-215-2525, http://www.lizabyrd.com
Convinced that Little Italy is the perfect place to spark a cultural and culinary renaissance, Cyd Wolf, her (authentically Tuscan!) husband/executive chef Germano Fabiani and their new artistic director Donald Kennedy are setting the neighborhood aflame with their “new” restaurant in the space formerly known as Germano’s Trattoria.
Now dubbed Germano’s Piattini (small plates) the contemporary Italian kitchen and bar is serving up little dishes with big flavor. Think Tartufo (truffle) Pizza, Carciofi Fritti (long stem artichokes fried in prosecco batter) and Polpo in Tre Modi (octopus three ways). Wolf notes that the menu includes many gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian offerings—and the facility is entirely nut-free. Well, except for some of the entertainers—ranging from jazz, opera and bluegrass musicians to Broadway and theater performers—who bring their creative talents to the adjoining cabaret. Also entertaining: the pasta-making demonstrations, where students of all ages can eat what they make for lunch. 300 S. High St, 410-752-4515, http://www.germanospiattini.com
When contractor Dave Tobash decided to open The Chasseur, it wasn’t so much the food that inspired him—but fixing an eyesore. “I wanted to turn something ugly into something beautiful,” says the Canton resident, who never cared for the design of Adam’s Eve, the Foster Avenue spot he purchased and refurbished last summer.
Fiancée Natalie diFrancesco, however, has food service in her blood. “I was conceived in a restaurant!” she says with a laugh, noting that she grew up waitressing in her family’s Italian restaurant in Frederick. “I had just one condition before we opened,” she says. “I told Dave, ‘We have to get Mike!’”
That’s bartender Mike Zabora, a familiar (bearded) face in Canton and Fells Point, who comes with a happy legion of regulars who’ve followed him from One Eyed Mike’s to Hummers—and now to The Chasseur. The restaurant is named after the most successful merchant ship during the War of 1812 (aka The Pride of Baltimore).
“My ancestors were longshoremen and carpenters—and our whole crew here has working-class roots. ” says Zabora, flashing his custom Maryland Flag tattoo. “We want to honor people who work hard for a living.”
1. The Menu: The Chasseur is charting the right course with a well-edited mix of apps (think: tuna tartare tacos and sloppy Joe sliders) paired with cholesterol-be-damned entrees, such as buttermilk fried chicken and sour beef and dumplings. Fancy something fancier? The pan-roasted Atlantic salmon with spinach, farro risotto and maple-tomato gastrique is slap-somebody-worthy.
2. The Chef: Sean Praglowski, formerly of Blue Hill Tavern, prides himself on using the finest, freshest ingredients to create The Chasseur’s signature comfort food dishes. “I like to keep it playful, with familiar meals that have been made in kitchens for years, but add my own twist.”
3. The Perks: Being neighborhood-centric is key to owner Tobash’s goal of becoming “the kind of place locals will come three or four times a week.” Wednesday is Stoop Night, where the crew delivers treats (like watermelon-feta-prosciutto skewers) to their Canton neighbors. Also popular with the locals: the Sunday Night Supper menu, featuring specially priced, family-style fare—perfect for roommates, double dates and couples with kids.
4. The Drinks: Thematically named craft cocktails range from sweet to spicy, including the Canon Fuse made with Three Olives mango vodka, tequila, fresh lime, orange juice, sriracha and sliced jalapeno.
5. The Scene: From the custom Vespas parked outside to the indie-darling soundtrack featuring Arcade Fire and the XX, The Chasseur is cool enough to stroke your “I’m a sophisticated city dweller” ego, but “corner bar” enough so you’ll feel comfortable wearing a suit or scrubs. Bonus: the square bar encourages fraternization. Hipsters and prepsters sharing plates? Yep, we’ve seen it. 3328 Foster Avenue, 410-327-6984 http://www.thechausseur.com.
Family meal traditions are wonderful things, but I think it’s fun to mix it up every now and then. After all, even the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey recipe can get a bit boring year after year. I’m not suggesting you abandon your beloved bird altogether, but why not be a bit adventurous this holiday?
I first had wild boar in Krakow, Poland, and instantly fell in love with its rich, nutty flavor—a cross between roast beef and pork. Here I’ve paired this hearty game meat with a fruity port wine jus. And for an incredible leftover meal, make a simple wild boar ragù: Shred the remaining boar meat and add it, along with canned tomatoes, back into the remaining jus and simmer on low for hours. Serve over pappardelle pasta. Rabbit isn’t a common protein on American tables, and that’s a shame. It’s plentiful, affordable and, when cooked correctly, buttery, moist and tender. Try it with my rich sage and pork stuffing and a classic mustard sauce.
The Guinea hen legs, slowly poached in butter, are herby, slightly salty mouthfuls of rich dark meat, and go perfectly with the tart cranberry cherry gastrique.
And finally, something for vegetarians. All too often, our herbivorous friends and family members get stuck eating a series of side dishes at holiday meals, but not so if you serve this sweet potato, caramelized onion and raclette galette—essentially a free-form tart. You also can serve a wedge as a great side for any rich game meat.
Not quite ready to abandon the Thanksgiving turkey altogether? Try one or more of these dishes alongside it this year.
Why should your mani-pedi be rushed and take place in a little corner off to the side, as if it were an afterthought? Or, if it’s the main attraction, why should it be in a space swirling with headache-inducing fumes? Jasmine Simms thinks it shouldn’t. That’s why she opened Scrub Nail Boutique. Exclusively devoted to manicures and pedicures, Scrub is an airy, elegant, luxurious salon on the second floor of a classic rowhouse in Fells Point. It features gel polish only—no acrylics—and is 100 percent fume-free. Whether you want a classic pale neutral or more Goth deep navy, Scrub can set you up—and give your legs a rubdown with fancy organic masks and exfoliants. Complimentary tea, coffee, water and Diet Coke (there have to be some concessions to the real world!) add to the air of relaxation. And they have memberships available to ensure you keep your nails and tootsies in tiptop shape. 722 S. Broadway, Fells Point, http://www.scrubnailboutique.com
Be cool, it’s time to dab on some Sex Panther and tune up the jazz flute because the Channel 4 Evening News Team is back in “Anchorman: The Exhibit,” opening Nov. 14 at the Newseum. In partnership with Paramount Pictures, the exhibit features props, costumes and footage from the 2004 smash comedy. Pose for photos at the KVWN-TV anchor desk and film your own “Anchorman”-themed TV spot at one of the “Be a TV Reporter” stations. (Just don’t drink any scotchy scotch scotch before your segment.) You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the history of news teams (both fictional and real) just in time for the release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” in December. Through Aug. 31, 2014 http://www.newseum.org
Insider’s Tip: After exploring the 250,000-square-foot interactive news museum, head up the street to Mike Isabella’s Graffiato restaurant (graffiatodc.com) for the most amazing charred octopus this side of San Diego.