Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Private Kitchen at The Food Market

January marked our eighth year in Baltimore. Time really flies when having fun. We have met some of the most incredible people in Baltimore. Creative. Genuine. Funny. Real. Amy is one of the really good people. She is a neighbor but we first met on social media. We don't really remember the first time we met. Could have been at an Artifact meet-up but it was most definitely through social media. She is one of the most humble people I've met and her story is inspiring. Quit your job. Do what you love.

Amy sent me an invitation for an event at The Food Market showcasing their private chef's table in the basement. I was an immediate yes. Due to my break from social media it was a bit ironic that I was included at all in this writer/influencer dinner. I didn't Instagram, Tweet or Snap at all that night. I realize now that I wrote a ton of notes, asked a lot of questions and truly enjoyed the experience because I was fully present. Clearly blogging has been replaced by instant everything. But as part of my Lenten discipline of no social media, I've realized how much I miss telling stories through this blog. So thank you again Amy for such an incredible experience and another opportunity to dust off the old Stone Hill Farm blog and get back in the writing + photo saddle.

Amy greeted us in the private kitchen in the basement. I've mentioned this staple in our hood many times. We land at the bar for an easy dinner often. Brunch for Sissy's birthday, godmother visits and general good times are always had at The Food Market. We are so lucky we can walk, but the fact that they have free valet is such a treat that it feels fancy to go there even for a few snacks. Janelle and I enjoyed our birthday luncheon earlier this month. It is for sure on my top five favorite restaurants in Baltimore. That said, I had absolutely no idea there was such a sweet private event space in their basement.

When you sneak past the open kitchen and head down the stairs it feels as if someone is going to ask you for a secret password. The speakeasy is all the rage again with pre-prohibition cocktails but this room feels like the real deal in 2016. The table was set for 9 guests. I believe it maxes out at 12 but 9 was ideal. The space feels like a typical Hampden basement with it's brick walls, but didn't feel dank, cold or claustrophobic. They decorated it with the hutch, behind Kit, and there is also a flat screened TV mounted if you need to have a presentation, watch Downton Abbey or play a rehearsal dinner video. It's a great intimate space for really special occasions. For more catering details shoot a note to Ashley at 

Okay, so major food porn warning alert. If you hate food blogs and food photos then this post is not for you and we can't be friends. :)

Amy saved me a seat which by the luckiest of chances was right next to the chef's, Todd Lewis, the Catering Chef and Chef Chad Gaus, Executive Chef and owner, who cooked for us all night. They were best pals growing up and Chad went to culinary school because of Todd. Fried pickles and my most favorite item on their menu, the Pretzel Sticks arrived almost immediately. Have you had the beer cheese that goes with the sticks? Go hard or go home people. They are a signature item on the menu and I think I would revolt if they were left off the menu.  I feel sorry for my gluten free friends, seriously. 

Prep view.

We began with the chicken broth. It was everything. I could eat this soup once a week. There were so many elements that made this humble broth the star of the night. The prosciutto was plated crispy and freshly sliced. The mirepoix was just barely blanched and not like most overcooked vegetables in a homemade soup. The vegetables has a spring back to them that gave a much needed crunch to compliment the crunch of the crispy ham. The bowtie pasta was handmade and cooked al dente as well. The Whipped Asiago was pumped in last and when the broth was poured a la minute when you mixed all of the flavors together it became this creamy, perfect balance of textures. Cracked pepper and truffle oil hung around with the fresh parsley for the perfect bite. My mouth is watering as I type this.

Next was a gorgeous poached pear salad and goat cheese. Do you see that hot pink dressing on the plate? It was made with fresh raspberries, shallots, olive oil and honey in...wait for it...a Vitamix. No yogurt or anything else to make it that pink. It was delicious, creamy and a lovely surprise.

The Rockfish was crispy seared with the biggest chunks of lump crab meat I've seen in a while. Spoiled fresh.

The lamb prep was really fun to watch. You could tell Chef Gaus really enjoys his job. 

He looks like he is whistling while he works. The mustard was a treat with the perfectly seared lamb. We were told to mix all of the sauces together. The potatoes were roasted with a touch of salt and the tender lamb melted it was so perfectly cooked.

Each course was paired with wine and this Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon was the star of the night in the wine department. I love big reds and this one was huge.

The finale was a s'more with chocolate piped pot de creme. We discussed pudding and slurry's. A slurry is corn starch and water. Pudding usually has eggs or a custard base...I think, but I was five flights of wine in at this point of the evening.

David was our server and a true hospitality pro.

Photo courtesy of Charm City Cook

It was a great night. My dinner neighbor Richard made the comment that he didn't feel overly full after five courses. The pace was lovely and we didn't leave at midnight feeling tired, bloated or over-served. This is the sign of a truly luxurious, well planed menu. I think in total it was approximately 2 hours. 

Rental Details:
$300.00 flat rental fee and there are three options for how the food can be priced. A la carte, 5 courses, or the chef prepares whatever they want. There are bar packages as well. Sounds like a perfect celebration location with dear friends.

Thank you again Amy, Chad, Todd and David. You warmed up February in the most delightful way.

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