Whining & Dining

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Baldwin’s Station in historic Sykesville---what a beautiful, quaint and unique setting. Housed in the town's original 1883 railroad station, Baldwin's Station –named after the architect that designed it-is listed in The National Register of Historic Places. It’s located on The Old Main Line, the oldest railway in the country—and the train tracks are just about 15 feet away from the tables in the charming indoor/outdoor deck area. I sat there waiting for the train to come --and got a big smile on my face when the whistle blew. Kinda like how I get mesmerized at a car wash-I HAVE to see my car go through. I know-I am a child. But HEY-I was SO NOT the only one! Owner Stewart Dearie has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Though he is not the chef, he has an impressive resume including an 8-year stint as manager for the 4-star, 4-diamond Conservatory Restaurant atop the Peabody Court Hotel and Antrim 1844 in Taneytown for 4 years. Baldwin’s also has a reputation for bringing in excellent live music and hosting unique special events. On April 21st, you can join the Karl Spence and Tom Greco, authors of the book “Dining on the B&O”, as they give a behind the scenes look at how their book evolved. And-- Norma McCormack, whose father William Bond was the first steward and then the superintendent of the B&O will reminisce about the early days. Now—to the food. Kudos to Chef Darrick Granai for a delicious dinner. The crab cakes were excellent-and he made them gluten free for me! The osso buco—OMG-was outstanding-loved it. Also enjoyed the gruyere stuffed filet with truffle-mashed potatoes, watercress and a blackberry sauce choron. Seriously-I’ve been dreaming about the crab cakes and mashed potatoes. Thank you Stewart and Darrick. Baldwin’s Station is at 7816 Main Street. Go to BaldwinsStation.com.

If you want to win a chance to attend a seriously top notch, seven-course dinner paired with amazing recipes made from Patron, go to PatronSocialClub.com and register for a chance to win a spot in the next Patron Secret Dining Society event. I was lucky enough to be one of the handful of media peeps-I was invited along with The Dining Examiner’s Dara Bunjon and Baltimore Eats Social Networking Administrator - Ryan Rom. We joined the winners and their guests and were directed via email (cause the destination is a secret) to arrive at the lobby of the Hotel Monaco at 6:30. We knew we were in the right place when we saw others dressed in cocktail attire with cell phones in hand-awaiting a text with further instructions for the evening. The text told us to go to the fire, find the man in the dark suit and ask him if he had a message for us. That’s when we ran into Bill Irvin from Slainte, Woodys and Koopers-and his beautiful date Rose—hangin’ with them was an added bonus. And so the evening begins. A bus was waiting to transport us to the secret destination—which turned out to be the Cloisters – a medieval, European castle on Falls Road. After a beautiful, candle lit cocktail hour featuring live music, we were ushered into a beautifully appointed dining area. Our hosts for the evening were Brendan Dorr –mixologist from the B&O Brasserie and The Wine Market’s executive chef Christopher Becker. Brendan and Christopher introduced each course and explained the pairings of the food with various Patron recipes.  One of the drinks had a cocktail-sized apple that had been marinated—I think Ryan saw God at that moment—it was amazing!  Some of the drinks were “Patron & Stormy” – Patron Silver, ginger beer and lemon juice, -- “Rested Miss Clementine” – Patron Reposado, stone pine & herbal liquor, clementine & lemon juice with egg white and  “Patron Sleigh” – Patron Anejo, honey and cherry liqueur with bitters. The gourmet menu included a sweet potato tot with molasses and toasted pecan puree-- duck breast carpaccio and tartar with root beer syrup, aioli, honey poached cranberries and crispy yams—and pan seared scallops with cauliflower flan over a poached egg with white chocolate and malted curry oil. People-that flan was absolutely stupendous. I could go on and on...but-here’s my final critique. The Patron Secret Dining Society is one of THE best promotions ever. Inventive, cutting edge and an impressive attention to detail. Brendan Dorr is a true master mixologist-go visit him at the B&O Brasserie—now! And Chef Christopher Becker is a massively, talented culinary artist. Bravo! And Saluda!

The Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation (RAMEF) indicted a new slate of volunteer officers. Michael Birchenall, editor and publisher of Foodservice Monthly, was elected by his peers to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.  Birchenall, one of my all time favorite foodies, worked for over 20 years in hotel food and beverage operations with Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton and Marriott. His turn to writing about the food and beverage industry began with the Times Community Newspapers in Northern Virginia and he was also a contributing editor for the “Gayot Washington D.C. Restaurants” consumer guide.  He founded Foodservice Monthly in 2002-and brought moi on board as a columnist. RAMEF helps those in the foodservice and hospitality industry succeed through their food safety and responsible alcohol service certification classes, scholarship programs and its school-to-career program, ProStart®. And—Saval Foodservice’s Executive Chef Bryan Bernstein is the new secretary. Congrats Michael and Bryan!





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