Hot Plate: Food for Thought at the Baltimore Book Festival, Butcher Battle at Fork & Wrench

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Fork & Wrench hosts the first in its Butcher Battle series this Wednesday, with a portion of proceeds benefiting victims of Hurricane Harvey. Credit: Sanchez-Gruver Restaurants

Baltimore food scene has a little bit of everything this week, from intellectual pursuits to dinners benefiting great causes to parties that are just plain fun. Here’s a look at what the city has to offer for the next seven days:

Books & More

The Baltimore Book Festival begins today and there are all kinds of food-related reasons to head downtown for it. An entire stage dubbed the Food for Thought Stage is dedicated specifically to food presentations, including cooking demos, with samples to share. During the course of the weekend, you can catch local food celebs like Kevin Brown of Station North Arts Café, Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, GMO expert McCay Jenkins and more.

On Sunday, Brooklyn-born current Baltimorean Allison Robicelli will be putting on her author hat at a release party for her new book 111 Places in Baltimore You Must Not Miss. The book will be available for purchase, and there will be ice cream from The Charmery and peach cake from Hoehn’s Bakery, among other treats.

Food, Wine & Conversation

Early this past week, Stelios Piliadis from The Black Olive Restaurant shared some thoughts about a program the restaurant is considering initiating.

“Thinking of dedicating a day each month in reviving the Ancient Greek Symposia where great food, fine wine and challenging conversation would bring folks together to address the burning political, economic and cultural issues associated with Baltimore City – a city we love,” he wrote on Facebook.

Keep an eye on Black Olive’s Facebook page for future updates.

Mr. Trash Wheel Friendversary Party

Everyone’s favorite (or second favorite) local trash wheel, Mr. Trash Wheel, has something interesting to celebrate this Saturday: the two-year anniversary of the time a python crawled onto him.

Uncomfortable as that may sound, the event launched something great in Peabody Heights’ beer “Mr. Trash Wheel’s Lost Python Ale.”

On Saturday, the brewery will host a party commemorating that fateful day and benefiting the Waterfront Partnership and the Healthy Harbor Initiative. The party at the brewery will also feature food from local food trucks Mexican on the Run and BricknFire Pizza Company.

Ravens in London

The Ravens play in London on Sunday, which means Baltimore is getting up bright and early – kickoff is at 9:30 a.m. Bars and restaurants around town, from El Bufalo and the Mt. Washington Tavern to Kooper’s and Mick O’Shea’s, are opening their doors by 9 a.m. to welcome fans.

Ouzo Bay Wine Dinner

On Monday evening, head to Ouzo Bay for a five-course wine dinner featuring the restaurant’s excellent Greek food paired with Kalaris Wines, including a tasting of Kalaris’s new Philotimo wine.

P&L Pop-Up

On Monday, Parts & Labor will partner with the Parkway Theatre for a one-night-only pop-up benefiting the theater.

The evening will include P&L snacks prior and cocktails, paired with conversation with WTMD’s Alex Cartwright, prior to a screening of Rat Film. Following the showing, its composer Dan Deacon will be on hand for a Q&A.

Bees Knees Week Begins

Starting on Monday, you might hear a faint buzz all around Baltimore, as local bars kick off Bees Knees Week, benefiting organizations that help save bees.

Local bars, including Birroteca, R. Bar and Ida B’s will feature the Bees Knees Cocktail, a Prohibition-era drink mixing honey, citrus and gin.

Michael Twitty at Ida B’s Table

Ida B’s Table closes out its grand opening festivities on Tuesday with a jawdropper of an event: Michael Twitty, the afro-culinary historian and author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, will be at the restaurant to discuss his book. The evening includes a meal inspired by the book and a signed copy of the tome, plus the opportunity to meet one of the most important and impressive culinary minds studying food today.

Tapas in the City at Verde

Also on Tuesday, Tapas in the City will pop up at Verde in Canton, hosting an eight-course tapas-style meal at the Neopolitan pizza restaurant. Courses will include dishes like fresh mozzarella, meatballs and several homemade pizzas, all paired with Italian wines.

Cooking Classes at The Corner Pantry

This fall, The Corner Pantry will host a series of cooking classes, each focusing on a particular theme. The first one takes place on Tuesday and will be all about cheese. Pam Miller, owner of Charlottetown Farm, will join Corner Pantry chef/owner Neill Howell to discuss everything she makes with her excellent goat cheese, as Chef Howell demonstrates some recipes made with her products.

Peter Wood of French Paradox wine shop will also be in-house with wines that pair well with the dishes.

Butcher Battle Series Begins at Fork & Wrench

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, Fork & Wrench is kicking off a new series of competitions between Chef Corey Laub and other local chefs dubbed The Butcher Battle Series.

This first edition of the series will focus on pork. Chef Laub will try to eke out a win over Gnocco’s chef Brian Lavin and chef Jesse Sandlin from The Outpost American Tavern.

No matter who comes out on top, the guests will be the real winners, as they’ll enjoy three porky courses (one from each chef) plus three paired cocktails and dessert. The guests will then vote for their favorites and a winner will be crowned.

A portion of the proceeds from Wednesday night’s meal will also go to the Austin Disaster Relief Network to support victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Emergency Medical Training Benefit at Sotto Sopra

On Thursday, Sept. 28, Sotto Sopra will host a multicourse meal benefiting training for Advanced Rescue and Life Support for Emergency Medical Responders, featuring help from guest chef Dr. Doug Floccare, an emergency physician and medical director for flight paramedics with decades of experience.

Spanish Wine at In Bloom

In Bloom, the new Federal Hill spot, will host a Spanish wine dinner on Thursday. The evening includes paella and tapas, plus small (3 ounce) pours of four Finca Rio Negro wines, which will also be available for purchase).

The owner of the vineyard will also be on hand to discuss the wines and his family’s vineyards.

Menhir Salento Events

On Thursday, Gnocco will host chef Alfredo De Luca from Menhir Salento Winery. Chef DeLuca will prepare a five-course meal, with dishes like fava bean bruschetta, with an optional wine flight pairing, wines by the glass and discounted bottles.

And on Friday, representatives from the winery will head slightly north for a free tasting of four wines, plus conversation and education, at Towson Tavern.

At Home with Charm City Cakes

Duff Goldman fans are familiar with the Ace of Cakes’ star’s over-the-top designs, which are as wild as they seem intimidating. Now, Goldman has partnered with the subscription service Chef’d to create pastry meal kits that will allow you to create Charm City Cakes-style treats right at home. The options range from simple – like chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting – to a special occasion-worthy tiered “celebration” cake.

Mark Your Calendars

Fans of smoky meats and great food have something serious to do on Oct. 8, when The Food Market and Smoke come together for The Smoke Show at Whitehall Mill. The event – which will sell out – is a combo tailgate and fall festival, featuring all sorts of Smoke and Food Market favorites, plus new stuff nobody has tasted yet.

The party will also include bourbon cocktails, local beers, wine, cider – and the Ravens–Raiders game on the television.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

October 2: Farm to Chef Maryland 

October 12: Moet Oyster Ball at Ryleigh’s 

October 17: Minnow and Ekiben “Gettin’ Fresh” collaboration