Katie Boyts likes to peek into the Dooby’s dining room from the kitchen to watch people eating her baked goods. “It’s such a treat for me,” says Boyts, who also follows her goodies on Instagram under #doobysbreadclub. Here, patrons post photos of their BLTs and brunches. Dooby’s Bread Club was born last year when Boyts realized that customers wanted to buy her fresh-baked loaves to take home. “I didn’t have time to do retail every day,” she says. So Dooby’s started what she calls a “bread CSA.” For $35 a month you get four weeks of bread (one loaf per week), plus “a little accouterment.” The weekly add-ons might include a jar of apple citrus spice jam, roasted garlic olive oil or herbed butter. “Sometimes we throw in some cookies,” Boyts says. The choices generally follow a cycle, with sourdough, focaccia and par-baked baguettes upended by “a wild card.” That may be burger rolls in the summer or challah and hot cross buns during the spring holidays. “It’s funny how bread brings this happiness to people. It keeps me excited about the craft,” she adds. 802 N. Charles St., 410-609-3162, doobyscoffee.com —Martha Thomas
A ‘Seabiscuity’ Brew
In 1979, a year after Affirmed became the last thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown, the Mt. Washington Tavern began an acclaimed run of its own down the hill from the home of the Preakness. Rather than simply having a few beers to celebrate their recent 35th birthday, the bar owners decided to create one: Old Hilltop Amber Lager. Named to honor Pimlico’s original clubhouse and the Tavern’s ties to the track, this smoothly sessionable and mildly malty—one might say Seabiscuity—lager was developed by Heavy Seas’ Hugh Sisson and Joe Gold in conjunction with the Tavern’s owners. They then went the extra furlong and commissioned a one-of-a-kind tap handle for the beer’s permanent spot in the establishment’s otherwise rotating stable of brews. Southeast Baltimore woodcarver Mark Supik—creator of tap handles nationwide—crafted a custom wood base for a cast metal horse created by yet another artisan associate of the Tavern. “We spent months visiting both the brewery and the woodshop to get everything just right,” says co-owner Rob Frisch. Local institution, local brewer, local artist—now that’s the trifecta. 5700 Newbury St., 410-367-6903, mtwashingtontavern.com —Mark Tough
When Shake Shack opened in the Inner Harbor in February, folks lined up in frigid winds and impend- ing snow for the chance to, well, sip a frosty milkshake. If nothing else, this proves that Baltimoreans are as food-obsessed as anyone in Brooklyn or Portland. For their second annual Emporiyum Food Market on April 18 and 19, Mindy Schapiro and Sue-Jean Chun have invited some 75 food vendors and artisans—half local, half from places like Boston, L.A., Charleston and Brooklyn—to offer their wares at the H & S Bakery Distribution Center.
Last year’s Emporiyum, at half the size, was a sellout. Look for gourmet cotton candy from Sky Candy of Orlando, kale-scented candles from Produce Candles in Charleston and Pernicious Pickles from Costa Mesa, Calif. Many of Baltimore’s small-batch stars also will make an appearance, including Haute Mess rubs and seasonings, Hex Ferments, Pure Chocolate by Jinji , along with small bites from restaurants like Fleet Street Kitchen, the Corner Pantry and yes, Shake Shack. Tickets, $15-$40. 600 S. Eden St. (corner of S. Central and Fleet) theemporiyum.com —Martha Thomas
Use Your Noodle
Brian and Larry Leonardi have found their sweet spot in Firenze, their new Reisterstown restaurant designed by Brian Thim of Rita St. Clair Associates. The menu ranges from fresh pasta and panini to meatball sliders, veal piccata and a 100-bottle wine list. Back in the day, the Leonardi brothers (along with sister Suzy Maria) ran two grab ‘n’ go pasta shops for Casa di Pasta, a small wholesale noodle factory in Little Italy with a storefront on Albemarle.
Firenze, too, is a family affair. Brian handles operations while Larry helms the kitchen. On a recent visit, Larry’s wife, Kelly, stood over the pasta extruder coaxing out fresh ribbons of fettuccine and twisted commas of gemelli while their 21-year-old son, Zachary (about to graduate from a local culinary program), oversaw the cooks. Even the elder generation is involved. “When we first opened, my 75-year-old father was in here washing dishes,” says Larry. 2 Hanover Road, Reisterstown, 410-394-5577 eatfirenze.com –Martha Thomas