Because this is the first installment of “Work Hard Play Hard,” I thought it would be appropriate to start with what I feel is the right first step for taking on the world. Whenever I am introduced to a new area, my first instinct is to go out and explore my surroundings. How else are you going to know what is around you and worth seeing? So, when I first moved down to Baltimore, Maryland to complete my internship at McCormick and Company, exploring is exactly what I did. The first weekend that I was free, I grabbed some things, packed my bag and set out to see what Baltimore had in store for me.
My first apartment in Baltimore was in an area called Federal Hill, a young, vibrant area that has a rich history and many interesting sites to see. The area spreads from its namesake monument park facing the popular inner harbor to just beyond the famous Cross Street Market on South Charles Street. Within these two markers, Federal Hill hosts plenty of attractions including the Maryland Science Center, the American Visionary Art Museum, countless shops and boutiques among many other things.
Though everything about this area sounded great, what I really hoped to gain from my adventures was of course an understanding of the food culture of my new living area. I walked down the street from my apartment and towards the center of town where all the action was. When I turned the corner my view immediately opened up to a bustling street lined on both sides with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, ice cream parlors and stores. As I continued to travel down the street, I realized that each place I passed was completely unique from the last. Not only was the number of businesses astounding but the wide array of cuisines was impressive. I couldn’t wait to dive in and get started!
Because it was late morning and turning out to be a beautiful summer day, I decided finding iced coffee should be my first mission of the day. I was still taking in the splendor of it all when I stumbled upon an A-frame sign on the sidewalk reading “Iced Coffee- Any Size, Any Flavor $1”. Being a recent college graduate, I could not resist coffee at such a low price. I thought to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” as I opened the door to The Light Street Café.
I walked into The Light Street Café and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. The small store front opened up to a diner-like operation where visitors had the choice between sitting down and ordering take-out. The dining area contained simple tables and chairs that matched the overall quaint atmosphere while the walls sported vintage views of Baltimore. Beyond the dining room, the back half of the restaurant resembled what felt like a deli with an ordering counter, free standing drink coolers, and an open kitchen. The very friendly staff took my order and in no time, I had a homemade muffin and my iced coffee and I was on my way!
As I stepped into the summer sun and made my way down the street, I came upon a building that seemed to be pretty popular among “the locals” walking around me. As I approached the building, the large red writing on the building became apparent spelling out the words Cross Street Market. I had heard about this market before but had never had the opportunity to visit. I was finally there and therefore, I had to make this stop number two for the day!
When I opened the doors, I was immediately hit with the entrancing smells of everything from seafood to sweets (which was a surprisingly welcome combination) and in an instant I was hungry. As my eyes adjusted from the sun, I could see where all of these tantalizing smells were coming from. I was looking down a long row of food vendors, including (but nowhere close to limited to!) fruit/vegetable stands, chocolate counters, and fish markets. What makes this market even more unique than its diversity, however, is suggested by its name: the Cross Street Market spans the width of a full block in Federal Hill. This gives the building plenty of room to house a ton of cool food vendors. I walked admiringly through the remainder of the market’s booths, bought a banana for my travels and continued on my way.
For the remainder of the afternoon, I traveled around the streets of Federal Hill admiring and, in some instances, visiting local restaurants and businesses, all the while making my way to the famous Federal Hill Park. As I sat on a bench overlooking the inner harbor, I reflected on my day. I could not believe that I had already learned so much just from one afternoon of exploring! I now knew that Baltimore had a very rich and diverse food culture for me to explore and I had only seen a small portion of it! I had a list of places I wanted to visit and in the months following, I made it a point to do just that. I look forward to telling you more about my adventures in later editions and sharing with you what I learned about the food world!