Or should I say, I'm disappointed in your fixer.
One of Tony's latest episodes of No Reservations found him in Baltimore, Detroit, and Buffalo. Kind of a "let's see if these messed up, depressed towns can offer anything to me." To be fair, he had a bad experience his last time in Baltimore, but I was pretty disappointed in how he depicted it.
If I haven't mentioned it before, I have kind of a love affair with Baltimore. Sure, when I moved there, they had one of the highest murder rates in the nation. And there's a huge drug problem. And there are some parts of town that almost defy description in terms of how bad they are. I remember hearing about the open-air heroin "market" blocks from my first job there. And you wonder why my mom thought a gun was a good idea.
But Baltimore is such a fun, quirky town, as I discovered in my almost 10 years of living there. There's something for everyone. I lived (and worked) in some pretty crappy neighborhoods, areas on the rise, and everything in between, or so it seems. And there was always something new to explore.
As the first person Tony interviewed (Jay Landsman from The Wire) stated, Baltimore is a collection of little neighborhoods in a giant patchwork, and you can go from the worst neighborhood to the best in less than 10 minutes. Yet Tony didn't even begin to explore those neighborhoods, their history, or what they have to offer. He seemed to just want to declare his adoration of The Wire, show a lot of abandoned rowhomes, and eat at 3 places with seemingly no thread to connect them, much less anything showing how they related to Baltimore as a city. For goodness sake, the man didn't even eat blue crabs!
So if I were giving Tony the tour of Baltimore, here's where we'd go:
Attman's Deli. I had my first matzo ball soup from here. It would be a great way to talk about the evolving history of different ethnic and religious groups in Baltimore.
Samos Restaurant. Located in, appropriately enough, Greektown. Great little family restaurant, BYOB, food to spend an evening over. Best thing Spiro Morekas ever did for me.
India Rasoi. As I like to say, the best Indian food in all of Little Italy. The hostess makes a point of finding out how comfortable you are with Indian food, and gently guiding you through the menu, describing what's in each dish. My mom still talks about this place, and it's been over 5 years since she's been there.
Speaking of Little Italy, Vaccaro's. Tony doesn't seem to be much of a pastry guy, but I'm sure he'd be down with some pignoli, cannoli, and the gigantic portions this place puts out. Maybe I'd even take him to an outdoor movie first. Or we'd watch a bocce tournament. He might put up with that.
Dudas Tavern. He has to spend a little time in Fells Point. Dudas was my go-to place for a cheap steak night. For $13, you get a steak, baked potato, and salad, all made in the tiny kitchen in the back. And good beer. And a nice chat with the folks behind the bar. What more could you ask for? Heck, we might head over to Bertha's or Max's afterward. Heck, we might use Fells Point as a jumping off point to talk about the Latin influx, and hit one of the many restaurants up and down Broadway.
I could go on and on. That greasy spoon on the edge of Canton, that fun little diner near Hopkins Homewood, Cafe Hon, microbrews at an Orioles game, some of the fancier joints in Federal Hill (and oh by the way, we could talk about Federal Hill and its place in American history while we're at it), and some of the fancier restaurants, period. Not to mention Lexington Market, which if I remember correctly is the oldest indoor market in the US. Tony's been to indoor markets in every other country, but he missed Lexington Market???
Maybe someday, if Tony does another contest to have someone escort him to an undiscovered locale, I'll sign up to take him to Baltimore. And if I ever win, I'll blog about it ;)