Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Charm City Weekend

This past weekend DB~ and I went down to Baltimore for one of my cousin's wedding. Most of my mom's side of the family moved to Baltimore from Pittsburgh in the '60's. We re-discovered that side of the family in 1984 and since then Baltimore has been like a second city to me.

Like all good cities, Baltimore is in the midst of re-vitalizing itself. The city is still rampant with drugs and crime, but they are doing a lot to rehab some neighborhoods (like Canton) and augment others (Fells Point).

One neighborhood that doesn't need any changes, though, is Little Italy in Baltimore off of Eastern Avenue. My mom's side of the family is Italian, so growing up we would go to Little Italy periodically when we would visit. Unlike Bloomfield in Pittsburgh, Baltimore's Little Italy is just Italian restaurants. And this past Saturday, every single one of them was packed to the brim. The family wedding was a smaller one, only around 85 people, so we had the entire upstairs of Chiapperelli's located on High Street.

The food was fantastic at the restaurant. This sure wasn't your typical Italian wedding at the fire hall. The appetizers were pretty good, but not spectacular, but the dinner was excellent. The salads were a light Caesar dressing with black pepper giving some bite. The dinners were family style portions of the following:
Penne in Vodka Cream Sauce
Sausage and Peppers

All were great, especially the penne and the meatballs. I'm not a huge fan of sausage and peppers typically, but I tried the sausage and was stunned by how soft it was. Sometimes you bite into a little fat pocket or the sausage is overcooked. But this sausage had none of that and the sausage was perfectly cooked and tender.

The lasagna was a touch watery, but it had excellent flavors and the ricotta cheese mixture was very smooth. The penne in vodka sauce had a yellowish-orange tint and wasn't drowned in sauce, which can be the downfall of that dish sometimes. Big thumbs up to Chiapperelli's.

Around 8 pm, I needed to get up and stretch and catch a breath of fresh air (it was a little tight seating arrangements) so I went outside to take in the scene. When I went out, I actually checked my phone to see what time it was. Sure enough it was 8 pm, but there was a car everywhere you turned and massive traffic backups when the valets would grab a vehicle to park.

After he caught his breath, I asked one of Chiapperelli's 5 (!!) valets if this was normal. He told me it was never this busy. I wandered a couple of blocks away to Vaccaro's. Vaccaro's is a famous restaurant that specializes in desserts.

Even though I go back to Baltimore at least once every other year, this trip felt different. I felt like I was going back to the beginning of things, like I was re-discovering Baltimore for the first time. Maybe that's due to DB~ and how I wanted her to see the city with me and how I feel when I'm with her. Whatever the reason, I flashed back to one of our earliest trips to Baltimore when we went to Vaccaro's after dinner. I was probably 9 or 10 and my cousin Paul practically triple-dared me into ordering the Death By Chocolate dessert. It was a massive orgy of chocolate cake, hot fudge, and chocolate gelato. If I finished it, he would give me a dollar. I did.

So this past Saturday after the wedding reception broke up and before we went to the after party, my parents and DB~ and I went to Vaccaro's for dessert. At 9 pm, the line was out the door and into the center of the street. After a few minutes wait we were ushered in by an employee who finally split the line into take-out and sit-down.

When we settled in, I didn't realize I was going to be an idiot. Truly, I didn't. But we were telling DB~ about the Death By Chocolate and I was still kind of hungry after dinner...

Boom. There it is in the forefront. My dad's peanut butter gelato dessert is in the upper left hand corner, my mom's rum cake is the upper right, and DB~'s sensible single cream puff is to the right of the Mount Rushmore Of Chocolate. It was a huge piece of chocolate canoli cake with 5 scoops of chocolate gelato, drizzled with hot fudge.

"Don't eat so much that you get sick" was the warning from DB~. I laughed it off. I ended up finishing all but 3 bites of it. And true to DB~'s warning, I had some stomach indigestion later that night. But it was worth it, even if I didn't get a dollar this time.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You really downplayed the intestinal "issues" from which you suffered. Funny that you didn't add the part about you groaning and moaning and asking if I could transport you back to home. There. I just did. :) ~