Baltimore and Paper Moon Diner

Last weekend a couple friends and I decide to take a mini trip to Baltimore for a day and a night (thanks, Annie, for letting us crash at your place). Mary had this idea for about a month prior, and I think we figured we’d ya know, “do the harbor” and stuff.

Well, “doing the harbor” proved to be pretty dry, and hot. I mean, you can’t exactly take a dip there, and a couple hundred other people had the very same idea for the day, so I ended up watching Mary sunbathe as I “took in the view” on my Instagram.

That’s when I decided we needed to get on a boat. Then we found out the boat cruises were $20+. After attempting to persuade the kiosk attendant I was actually a child, we found this beautiful thing called a water taxi. Sure, it had a destination and we had to get off and back on every 15 minutes, but it was so nice! Mary and I got smoothies, explored Fell’s Point, and maybe I pretended to be BeyoncĂ©/sang “I’m on a boat” a couple times.

I’m still left puzzled with my idea of what Baltimore actually is, but after “doing” the city for a day I would call it down-home, briny, and underrated. Does that make any sense? I kept trying to compare it to D.C., but I think you can understand it more if you leave D.C. completely out of the picture. Baltimore is the major city of Maryland, after all, land of the crabs, Old Bay, and I have no clue what else. I’m sure my judgement would make a resident of Baltimore cringe, just like if they were to write a blog post about their day on Bourbon St. in New Orleans, and would probably title it something like “My Time in the Big Easy.” Bleh.

Sunday morning we ended up at a restaurant called the Paper Moon Diner, which was SO weird and great. They had cows and naked babies glued to the ceiling, a plastic cat in the drink fridge, and a bedazzled mannequin that really impressed me. The menu was one of those huge ones that leaves you hungrily flipping the pages with anxiety. I decided it was lunch time and got the Southern Turkey BLT with lemon olive aioli, bacon, arugula, tomato, and an egg on sunflower toast. It was pretty good, but if I ever go back I’m getting the Ham Den omelet with caramelized onions, ham, and smoked Gouda. YUM.




I promise, I have been eating

It’s been a while since I’ve posted routinely on To Taste; To Know and it’s entirely due to a certain summer slump.

While ideally summer is a time of sunshine and rejuvenation (for youngsters that is), summer can also be an awkward and seemingly artificial transition time between semesters, a lot of nights-in without certain plans, and three months of endless possibilities that may overwhelm you so much you are not even certain what shows you should start on Netflix. For me, summer, or anytime I can literally do nothing brings on a whole lot of life questions, not excluding doubts of my voice as a writer and that voice’s portrayal on this very blog.

But! I promise, I have been eating, all kinds of cuisines and thinking of course maybe all too closely about food’s meaning in my life. So now I present to you a FOOD HAUL of all of the foods!! With short commentary.

This summer I have had…

20140710-185452-68092092.jpgOne of three identical bowls of beef bulgolgi don from Sushi Gin in Silver Spring

20140710-185952-68392580.jpgThe one and only traditional pad Thai I’ve gotten with my high school friends so far this summer


20140710-190126-68486380.jpgSome homemade concoctions


20140710-191257-69177828.jpgCeviche and a crab cake from my Dad’s birthday dinner at Seqouia


20140710-193137-70297592.jpgA pretty bowl of Cava



20140710-194127-70887597.jpgFinally got Dad to take me for Indian even though he thinks it’s too hot outside for it

20140710-194325-71005823.jpgMy second annual lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster

20140710-194439-71079746.jpgMy momma getting festive for the Fourth with a watermelon caprese salad

Bethany beach and a bowl of belly

This past week I went to Bethany Beach in Delaware with my best friend Mary and her family. It’s a pretty steadfast tradition that I come along for a part of her family’s trip, and I love that they bring me. But, unlike when my family takes trips (with me at the foodie helm), food wasn’t the star player this week. Beach week with my friend and her family is about board games, fireworks, family bonding, and playful trips to play mingolf. In the insanely busy (and lovely) way they live their lives, this week is a true standout for them, as with many families. And there is a part of me that loves experiencing a different family’s perspective, and becoming, if only for a week, a real part of that family’s day to day happenings. I even loved making sandwiches and eggs at their beach house in lieu of anxiously Trip-Advisoring (a new verb) where my family will eat next. And is there anything as fun and relaxing as cooking in a beach kitchen with renters’ minimal kitchen ware (and without your junk)!?

But the other part of me was expectedly pleased when we did go out to eat at the beach. Both nights we went to restaurants belonging to SoDel Concepts, owned by Matt Haley, the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Humanitarian of the Year. First was Northeast, a white-washed family-friendly place very reminiscent of, hey what do you know, the northeast. I took a gamble on the Moroccan Lobster roll (there were 4 types of lobster rolls to choose from!) and really liked it. While I can’t say what was exactly Moroccan about it in comparing the food I’ve had in Morocco with my lobster roll, it was great and was served in a curry mayo with caramelized pineapple and green onion. The second place we went to was called Papa Grande’s, and despite the generic name it was very good. Maybe I was more in love with the renovated garage-turned-surfer-Tex Mex shack then the actual food, but when I saw a pork belly rice bowl on the menu I was a happy girl. I think I’m more of a fan of bibimbap, but I will eat just about anything in a bowl with an egg on it. As to which is better, a pork belly rice bowl or a bowl of Mac and cheese eaten late at night with cheap wine and your best friend? That’s still up for debate.


Food, family, and a visit home; In that order

It’s been a month since Paris and a whirlwind of things have happened since then. This month my grandmother passed away suddenly, and I knew that despite the money (thanks Mom and Dad) and travel time it would take, I needed to go home to America, and to New Orleans. While I feel like I have several homes at this point in my life, including D.C., Charleston, and even Sevilla, New Orleans will always be my true home. I feel at home in the airport when jazz music comes through the speakers, and even when the streets are so bumpy I have to grab the car door handle to hold on.

But as I walked into my grandmother’s house in New Orleans surrounded by all of my extended family, home was the last place I felt. I almost wished the back door was a gate to a flight to Sevilla, the city that had quickly grown to be so comforting and familiar for me. There was a stillness and strangeness I had never felt in that house that still makes me very sad to remember.

“Christina, grab a plate!” My dad had called to me that night. In front of me there was crawfish dip, melon wrapped in prosciutto, cheese plates, and crackers. Just as my dad joked, “Even when we’re having a funeral, this family knows how to eat.” So I grabbed the plate, and the eating ensued. First there was “Italian Night” with angel hair pasta, “Dobe” (The New Orleans/Italian version of Mexican Adobo) and Cassata. Then there was “Chinese Night” with a buffet of tins from Five Happiness, and after the funeral, food catered by Martin’s Wine Cellar (funerals always mean finger sandwiches).

I didn’t really feel like eating that first night, or hugging, or crying. But I did them anyway. That food helped me connect to my family again, served as both a distraction and a comfort, and even scored several mentions in the eulogy I wrote and recited for my grandma at her funeral. Some people might find it strange that I would talk about food in a eulogy, but it made perfect sense to me, and would’ve to her. It definitely helped me find my way back home. 20140422-163720.jpg

20140422-163825.jpgAn appetizer of crawfish at R&O’s


A tacky and delicious shrimp remoulade cocktail

20140506-173211.jpg Sushi at Sake uptown

20140506-173502.jpgShrimp and grits at Superior Seafood (usually I would never order this anywhere but Charleston, but I was home sick for yet another hometown)