When the air turns crisp and the leaves start to change in Baltimore, there is no denying that most urbanites are ready to trade in their shorts and O's tees for jeans and Ravens jerseys. However, the seasonal change doesn't only inspire a clothing metamorphosis. The cool air seems to transform locals' food and drink cravings, as well. While we may never really be ready to put down the crab mallet, it is the time to ask: where are Baltimoreans going to get their autumnal food fixes?
It is certainly no secret that any good fall day can be kick-started with the uber-popular and omnipresent Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. I, for one, will never deny the allure of the nutty warmth of that beverage-turned-breakfast-treat on a brisk autumn morning. However, in Baltimore there is at least one serious rival in danger of unseating the Pumpkin Spice Latte from its reign as the premier fall beverage.
A quick ride through the streets of Hampden and down Union Avenue to the increasingly popular Clipper Mill/Woodberry neighborhood will land you right at the unassuming Artifact Coffee, Spike Gjerde's youngest institution. A farm-to-table sister to close by Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact serves up seasonal fare in a cozy communal setting, but the real draw to Artifact is its coffee program, particularly its beautifully crafted maple latte. This newcomer to the fall beverage scene is a warming concoction that, when ordered in-house, will also come adorned with a maple leaf design in the espresso and milk, sealing the deal for a top spot as a quintessential liquid fall treat in Baltimore.
Moving on to your dinner plate, if it is fall flavor you seek, look no further than the likes of Langermann's on Light who recently boasted adding to their menu a “pumpkin mascarpone ravioli with duck sausage and sage cream sauce.” Pumpkin? Sage? Cream sauce? This dish screams “fall” nearly as loudly as that first Friday the entire city is bedecked in purple.
Along a similar vein, Chef John Shields recently featured on his menu at Gertrude's a ravioli filled with butternut squash tossed with seasonal vegetables in a cream sauce, as well as a honey crisp apple cobbler for dessert; both clear usages of traditional fall flavors. And, given the recent trend of using sustainable, local and seasonal foods, it is fair to say that most restaurants around Baltimore that are worth their weight in pumpkins are featuring these types of rich fall flavors on their menus.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are no shortage of traditional fall treats from various takes on apple pie to rich (and sometimes spiked!) apple ciders, pumpkin pie and more. However, Baltimore-based Mouth Party Caramel offers what they call a “transcendent” experience in caramel, and frankly? I couldn't agree more. These ooey gooey caramel gems are beyond-words delicious in their original caramel format. But the geniuses at Mouth Party took this caramel celebration a little further by adding pumpkin flavors to one variety as well as sea salt and chocolate to another. The result? All I can say is there ain't no caramel like a Mouth Party caramel, and you'd be missing out if you did not indulge your love of fall flavors by trying these unforgettable autumnal goodies!
And finally, no discussion of fall food and beverage flavors in Baltimore would be complete without a nod toward some autumnally inspired spirits to warm you as the cool weather creeps in. While pumpkin beers abound throughout Baltimore (the Great'er Pumpkin from Heavy Seas being a definite favorite), creative cocktails are increasingly popular as well. One of the best fall cocktail menus is at the warm and inviting Of Love and Regret in Brewer's Hill. While this cozy bar in Brewer's Hill is known for its beer, their current “Concoctions” menu is a reflection of their commitment to representing seasonal ingredients throughout their menu, including in their cocktails. The Fall Nog, featuring Czech-born liqueur Becherovka, as well as other additions, would serve well as either a perfect starting point, or a nightcap, on a fall night out. Or, if a little fire action with your cocktail is your thing, be sure to order the Apple Dapper which is delivered just after the bartender lights afire a cinnamon stick that is then dropped into your drink to both warm and flavor it. One amazed drinker at the bar recently exclaimed, “How can I not order a drink that involves fire?” Indeed.
The bottom line is that if it is the warm and comforting flavors of fall that you are looking for, you are sure to find them in virtually any form, from on your plate to in your glass, across the city of Baltimore. But hurry and get it now, because before long talk of gingerbread and mint will be inevitable....
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