Thursday, May 12, 2016


Time for another road trip, Laurie Katz and I chose Annapolis, Maryland.   It’s been over 50 years since I learned the names of the Capitol cities of the United States.  I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who thought that Baltimore was the Capitol.  I suppose I should have gotten the hint when I saw a photo of the State House on their website. 
We were so looking forward to the destination and not the weather…rain for days. 

Thursday,  our first stop was at Baltimore Coffee and Tea, located at 890 Bestgate Rd. just out from the downtown area.  Kim and Becky are the very friendly and helpful managers.  The beans themselves are roasted at their main plant in Timonium.  You’ll want to inhale that great aroma when you enter and view a whole load of bags conspicuously placed there.  Yes, you can buy the beans and even have them grind it to your liking. 


It looks as though the beans are divided into three categories: regular, decaffeinated and flavored.  I, personally, do not like flavored coffees as they tend to be artificial.  Although caffeine hits me, I time it with not having it first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep. 

Sauntered over to the counter to peer at the menu.  There were six brewed coffees to choose from and was able to taste them all, if I wanted to.  Opting for an Iced Latte, the coffee choice is their Italian Espresso Milano.  It is described as an artful blending of Costa Rican Tarazzu, Fancy Bourbon Santos, Tanzania Peaberry & Ethiopian Harrar.  It  gives this blend incredible flavor with a rich caramel crema for an extraordinary espresso. 

Since it was lunchtime, I ordered their Cranberry Walnut chicken salad with lettuce and tomatoes.  Looks like both Laurie and myself were in the mood for an iced coffee drink and this salad.

With the help of Kim and Becky, I chose 4 ounces of four coffees to use in my Aeropress.  It was recommended to be ground between espresso and drip.  Baltimore Blend (darkest roast) - Our famous and best-selling house blend, we're proud to feature this as our homage to our home city. A careful blending of Guatemala Antiqua, Colombian Supremo, and Fancy Bourbon Santos this coffee gives a combination rich taste with a mellow body. Renaissance Blend (dark roast) - This coffee holds all the promise of the flavors of Italy. An indulgent blend of French Roast, Italian Roast and Viennese Colombian.  Indian Monsoon Malabar (medium roast) - This incredible coffee from the Malabar region of Southern India offers a brew with a sweetly fermented fruit flavor that has an intriguing musty tone, but one that is not at all sharply bitter. Very low in acidity, the muskiness of this coffee is obtained by exposing the beans to the humid monsoon winds for 12 - 16 months prior to export.  Loved the latte so I got the Espresso Milano.

Taking photos I noticed that they carry an entire line of teas as well.  Black, green, white, decaffeinated, mixtures of tea and herbs, herbal and herbal mixtures. Herbals are always caffeine free due to there not deriving from a tea leaf.  Love the packaging.   You can get loose tea or tea bags.   Surprisingly, many of the loose teas come with a reusable tea bag.  The 3-oz packages under the name of Eastern Shore Tea Company, brew 50-60 cups of tea.  That is because you only need 1 teaspoon per cup.  What did I get? African Red Bush Tea (rooibos).  Nantucket Mint Herbal Tea – redbush, vanilla, spearmint, hibiscus.  The back of the bag has a history and full description of the teas.  Got a cranberry-apple muffin to go…it was delish.

Time to check into the Westin Annapolis Hotel at 100 Westgate Circle and West Street.  I must congratulate myself for choosing such a perfect location as I’ll get to it later on.  The lobby is bright and inviting with many “stations” including the check in and business (must check email and don’t want to bring a computer of any sorts).  The atmosphere spews tranquility.  I had requested an accessible room having taken both my rollator and cane.  Pretty spacious. Entering the bathroom, a long shower stall with a shower chair is right there.  The shower chair is attached to the wall and folds up.  This is smart as it allows me to close the shower curtain.  One can opt to stand.  The water automatically comes out from a portable shower head. 

I requested a refrigerator just in case there were leftovers, although there is a cupboard that does have an area of refrigeration that doesn’t seem as cold.  Microwave included. 

Westin has a Green program with a reward.  If you choose not to use the facilities of the maid service, you are rewarded with a card that allows you $5.00 voucher for food or non-alcoholic drinks served at the hotel.  The lobby has a snack bar called Grab and Go, located just outside the restaurant.  They sell the basic coffee, tea, juice, bagels and pastry. 

Westin also has a program for runners.  They rent the gear that comes from New Balance.  Shoes that comes with socks (you keep them) and workout clothing such as shorts, long shorts, and sports bra.  I had trouble with getting the shoes as I have a very wide width.  You can actually saunter along West Street to the other end at Dock Street as the distance is just less than a mile.  Needless to say, I had no intention of running…especially in the rain.  Neither of us made use of the indoor pool, workout gym, or spa. 

New to the hotel is the Rooftop Beehive.  They have installed rooftop honey beehives which can host up to 35,000 honey bees.  It hopes to be a haven for the depleted honey bee population.  Chef Barnett plans to use the honey in a wide variety of signature dishes once it is harvested.  Not sure but I think you can buy a jar.

Baltimore has its crab art.  Annapolis has Chicks along West Street.  We were hoping to get a photo of all 13 if it weren’t for the rain and figuring out where they are.  
What’s with the chicks?  Gavin Buckley was heading an art project as part of a newly created art district.  Going to City Hall he sat in on a heavy debate about people having live chickens in their backyard and if so, how many.  It appeared that some people had been fined for doing so.  This debate went on for about two years before the decision back in 2012.  Gavin thought that the whole thing was ridiculous to spend so much time with.  That’s when the idea came up for this project that involved both schools and artists.  Due to vandalism and some in total disrepair, not all of the original chicks are around.  Tourism has a map of their location and “author”. 
You can get a map from tourism, and would have been easier doing “rainless”.   We got a total of four, two of which were near the hotel.  

Dinner this night was at Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen located just across the hotel’s main driveway.  The restaurant is located at One Park Plaza where we encountered a piazza with a fountain and statue of a perhaps a Roman man standing above two horses.  Open to the public there are about 4-5 tables where you can bring food, your pet, or lap top if you want.  Carpaccio does not have table service in this area. 

Laurie and I shared each of the chosen menu items beginning with a buratta salad.  I love the creaminess of burrata. It came with prosciutto, asparagus, basil, yellow and red tomatoes and baby arugula…which seemed to be a better substitute for parsley.  

Carpaccio Di Manzo Parma uses thin slices of filet mignon along with capers, shaved parm and…arugula. It was drizzled with a Dijon mustard aoli.  Although it comes with toasted bread, I passed it up knowing that there was more to eat.  

Shrimp Arugula…yes, there it is.  Four freshly tasting prawns roasted in a garlic sauce sitting atop cannellini beans with…arugula. The sauce was so good that I wanted to consume all of the beans. 

I wanted to try a few other tidbits.  One was a Pappardelle with a tomato based lamb ragu topped with crumbled goat cheese.  Savory sauce and cooked well.  

 Corvina on the left.  Pappardelle on the right

Fish is necessary.  Branzino Mediterraneo - grilled and drizzled with lemon infused olive oil and fresh herbs.  It is served with escarole relish and olives and walnuts.  I was also curious about a fish called Corvina. It is a basic white fish the way we use the term “scrod”.  The Corvina Livornese was pan seared with fire roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, asparagus tips, Kalamata olives, capers in a light marinara sauce with garlic and olive oil, finished with a splash of chardonnay and the chef’s blend of seasonings.  Yes, we were getting full.  Along came a plate of a cheese risotto.  All I could think of was Gordon Ramsey screaming in Hell’s Kitchen.  At least the chef here knew how to perfect it.   We skipped dessert.


Our final destination for the evening was Wine and Design at 32 West Street.  It is becoming a “craze” to have a sort of painting party or just a night out with friends doing something you don’t normally do.  Nobody judges your work as it is all in fun.  We were all painting a pink rose that had already been drawn onto the canvas and using acrylics.  Denise was the instructor this evening. The goal was to learn how to paint shades of the pink color in order to emphasize the petals as well as the green shades of the leaves.    It turned out okay, I guess…although I think a photo of it looks better than what was on the canvas.  That’s ME doing the judging.  Their policy is “no mistakes” and to make sure you distinguish your wine glass from you water glass.  Wine is extra.


Friday. Up and at um! Breakfast is in order.  When it Rome…I went for the Chesapeake Eggs Benedict.  Lump crab substituted for the usual Canadian Bacon.  

It continues to rain as we drive to the Spice and Tea Exchange at 155 Main Street.  Melanie and Erica were at the store as we toured the goods.   Spices and teas are packaged on the premises.  There are different areas to view and you can get a whiff of anything you want.   You can get single spices or blends.  With so many to choose from….really…I asked for recommendations.  Coastal Blend – garlic, ground green peppercorns, kosher salt, onion powder, chives, shallots, dill, lemon zest, and lemon verbena.  Ginger Teriyaki – garlic, ginger sugar, soy sauce, ginger, kosher salt, onion, Worcestershire powder, and white pepper.  Tuscany – garlic, tomato powder, lime frost sea salt, onion, salt, black pepper, olive oil, rosemary, basil, green and red bell peppers, parsley, red pepper flakes, aji amanilo pepper, coriander, cumin, oregano and thyme.  Their Signature spice blend has: black pepper, garlic, green and red bell peppers, kosher salt, celery, paprika, tomato powder, chives, onion, horseradish powder and Datil pepper (from St. Augustine).  It’s amazing how anything goes well with chicken! 

Let’s get to the salts.  I only chose two.  Applewood Smoked Sea Salt and Olive Sea Salt (kalamata and green olives).  It’s not as if they don’t have a line of tea.  However, after going to Baltimore Coffee I opted for two. Cinnamon Plum: organic cinnamon, organic hibiscus flowers, organic currants, organic licorice root, and natural plum flavoring.  Berry White: organic white tea, organic rose hips, organic blueberry, organic raspberries, organic schizandra berries, organic strawberries, organic hibiscus flowers, natural flavor or lychee and plum, organic white tea with jasmine.  Sing it to me!  

We then traveled down to the flooded docks (hey, the rain had been nonstop since we got there).  Supposed to have lunch at Sofie’s Crepes until we realized that there is no seating at this venue.  Lunch was elsewhere in the area.  Drove around the area until time for the 3 pm Trolley tour that started at the Visitors Center, 26 West Street. 

This is the best for an overview of the city as well as being able to hear about the history and perhaps some inside information. Close up to US Naval Academy, St. John’s College, City Dock.  Oldest of homes and historic buildings, although not directly in front of the State House.  Joe, the driver, was kind enough to take us to where some of the chicks are located dropping us off right in front of where Laurie parked her car.

Circulatior Trolley is another form of transportation.  For a buck a ride, you can take the whole loop just to get acquainted with the city.  Two dollars if you’re going outside the Central Business District.  One of the stops is in the parking lot area of the Westin Hotel.  It runs at 20-minute intervals.  Perhaps someone will be able to point out where the 13 ceramic art chicks are located.

Back to the hotel to relax before dinner at their Restaurant, Azure.  I was most interested  on sampling some of the appetizers and soup. Chesapeake Cream of Crab is a house specialty.  Quite tasty and quite rich.  Laurie was up for some fried oystersI didn't pass up on tasting.  We will later taste them raw to compare.  Duck Confit Flatbread had smoked gouda, mushrooms tomato preserve and arugula.  I wonder if both Carpaccio and Azure have an investment in baby arugula.  This would have been great if it weren’t that the duck was much too salty for my taste.  Chicken wings that are honey spiked with sweet chili.  They came out crispy without taking away from the tenderness of the chicken.  Barbecue Beef Bites had a homemade sauce and resting on brioche with a side of house made potato chips.  I wanted to save room for dessert as they make their own ice cream.  The dessert was Milk Shake and Ice Cream.  I had a chocolate milk shake and vanilla and chocolate ice cream.  I would have loved the milk shake if it weren’t that it was too sweet from the chocolate syrup used in it. 

Entertainment for the evening over at Compass Rose Theater located at 49 Spa Road, just across the street from the hotel…if you leave by one of the dining room doors…didn’t realize we couldn’t get back in that way.  Production was The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd.  I was looking forward to seeing this as I had been in this production back when I was seventeen and having the role of The Kid as well as being the Musical Director.  Feature songs are: “Who Can I Turn To”, “Feeling Good” and “Wonderful Day”. 

Plot:  Sir, who represents the upper class and Cocky, who represents the lower class play a board game where Sir is always in control.  The Kid is Sir’s sidekick.  There is a chorus of urchins.  A few characters come onto the board to play such as The Girl and The Foreigner (originally called The Negro).

Compass Rose is a small non-profit organization that in my opinion is better than Community Theater and bills itself as a Professional Teaching Theater. 

Lucinda Merry-Brown is both the founder and artistic director. They made quite a good use of the stage by building what looks like a wooden cat walk.  The actors would climb up to it or swing down from a rope.  Not much in terms of sets or costumes as the script does not make it necessary.  However, I did not see this show on Broadway.  Some great vocals from the cast and music provided by simply a pianist.  Lucinda made changes in the script, although it did not take away from the original.  “On a wonderful day like today/I defy any cloud to appear in the sky/Dare any raindrop to plop in my eye.”  Poor timing for that song as it continued to rain.

Saturday and breakfast.  This time I had Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon atop an English muffin.  I requested the egg to be over easy but I got poached instead.  It came with a salad of asparagus spears and tomatoes.  Needed a healthy juice and got a combo of orange, carrot, and ginger. 

The rain stopped and it is time to check out and head for the City Dock as we are taking the 11 a.m. cruise with Watermark Tours on the Harbor Queen.   

This 40-minute cruise took us along the Chesapeake Bay where we toured the Annapolis Harbor and U.S. Naval Academy shore line.  History is told and homes and buildings were pointed out as we sailed around.  I took a seat downstairs in the front of the boat for picture taking.  I enjoy the relaxation of a cruise, so long as the water isn’t rough.  

I wanted to make sure that I had the experience of eating Maryland crabs and found a fantabulous restaurant in the town of Riva, about ten minutes away from Annapolis.  Mike’s Crab House on the banks of South River, located at 3030 Riva Road.  

Thank goodness it is large.  This place was packed and for a good reason.  Seated I looked around to see people using a mallet to break up the crabs and get the meat.  Knife and fork doesn’t work for this.  Trays of a dozen or so crabs going by.  A heavy duty roll of paper is placed on the table.  I’m now in the mood for a beer and order a Blue Moon.  I wanted to try everything.  Laurie and I shared the various delicacies starting with their famous Maryland Crab Soup.  Kind of like a Manhattan clam chowder using a tomato base.  Loved it even though I tend to get a cream based soup. 

Don’t let anyone tell you that the large crabs come from Maryland as they are fished from the waters of the Gulf Coast.  Their local raw oysters are totally awesome!  Meaty and not very briny.  Came with horseradish and cocktail sauce…a bottle of hot sauce provided in case you want.   We continued the experience with a soft shell crab for each of us. 
OMG. It is the best fried soft shell crab going! Everything is edible.

Lastly, the Lump Crab Cake.

I asked if all lump crab meat is sourced from one company.  NOT.  I think that is why this crab meat tasted different from the one that I had at the hotel.  With a choice of either cole slaw or a salad bar, we opted for the cole slaw.  Creamy, no celery salt or added vinegar. Just the way I like it. 

FYI Handicapped Parking:
Cars with handicapped license plates or with a current hang tag may park at our meters for twice the allowed time at no charge. If you wish to remain in the spot, you must pay the meter rate and stay only the allotted time. Handicapped licensed cars may also park in our residential district for four hours.

I was so looking forward to a destination going back to New York.   I love alpacas.  We found a farm call Painted Sky Alpaca Farm, located in Earleville, MD.  I arranged to meet with the owners at a particular time.  Unfortunately Christopher Dickinson got stuck at a flower market.   Alpaca owners tend to bring a few to events where children are present as well as hospitals to ease the tension of patients.  We did get to meet four of them as they were grazing in the front. 

However, I did not get to pet any of them.  However, it appear that a Maine Coon cat greets everyone and makes sure that he/she gets attention. 

These particular alpacas are male.  I’m not sure if it makes a difference with their behavior towards humans.  I decided to adopt an alpaca.  Her name is Dee Dee and will be sharing her with the rubber chickens. 

No comments:

Post a Comment