Summer has officially begun and the local food scene is ready to celebrate the season. This week brings ice cream news, farm festivals, outdoor parties and more. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:
Summer has kind of snuck up on us, so if you haven’t gotten out to pick your own strawberries (or anything else) yet, we understand. But don’t let these short lived harvests pass you by! Few things beat munching happily on berries you just picked yourself– except maybe enjoying the strawberry shortcake you made with them. Or the pie. Or the jam. But that’s what’s great about picking your own. You can go home with enough for snacking, baking, and preserving (just as long as you don’t eat all of them in the car ride on the way home).
It truly is harvest time here in Maryland, and thanks to the amazing work of local gardeners and urban farmers, that’s just as evident in the heart of the city as it is out in the rolling countryside. There’s so much food being grown and harvested right here in Baltimore that it kind of blows our minds, actually. Almost every local urban farm is always happy for volunteers and to provide folks with information and education about growing your own food, organic farming, and nutritious, seasonal eating. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the Real Food Farm’s annual Urban Farm & Food Fair– an outright celebration of all things urban farming.
So, I love the holiday season—the lights, the cheer, the long-lost friends and relatives. But I am no fan at all of the cold. And I know I’m not alone in that. But even for those of us who welcome the freakish-but-maybe-the-new-normal 60 degree days of December, it can be hard to get into the holly jolly swing of things when it just doesn’t feel like winter. No, my solution is not draping your lawn and window sills with bunch of synthetic snow (though to each his own, I guess). But a good way to get the holiday season feel while making the most of the weather that is decidedly not seasonal is to head out to the country and get your Christmas tree right on the farm.
For 35 years, Applewood Farm in Whiteford (that’s about 50 minutes north of the city) has been selling Christmas trees and hosting holiday fun intended for those who wish to experience and create a family memory. The family-run farm (the founders’ son just took over a few years ago) offers an extensive display of lights and greens, many model train displays, a reindeer antler toss, a petting zoo, a “kiddie maze”, and lawn bowling. As though that weren’t enough, guests can take a ride on the The Applewood Express—a narrow gauge 1870’s vintage steam train that runs on a scenic 3/4 mile tour of the lower meadow area of Applewood Farm. Hay wagons run continuously through the fields of Christmas trees, allowing families easy access as they choose and harvest their own tree right there on the farm. Sure, there might not be any snow on the ground, but maybe that’ll make the stroll through the rows of trees just that much more leisurely.
Applewood Farm is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-4pm. Admission to the farm is free, though a ride on the Applewood Express costs $4.00 for those over 3 years old. For more information, visit www.applewoodfarm.org
Quick: grab a kid! Just grab one and trick (or treat) them into accompanying you to Larriland Farm for an idyllic fall day of picking your own apples and pumpkins and getting lost in the straw maze. Sure, you don’t need a kid with you to go to Larriland (a group of fun-loving friends will do) but the joy of picking out the perfect pumpkin with intent to carve is definitely enhanced by young company. That being said, you can always just go solo and spend hours getting the vibe of each pumpkin in the patch—preparing to be the Michaelangelo that simply frees the Jack-o-Lantern from its gourdish form. This more esoteric approach may appeal to some readers. Do it any way that suits you, but be sure to make the trip!
That awful phrase “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” is starting to take on a whole new meaning this summer. If you’ve stepped outside your house in Baltimore (or really anywhere in the U.S.) in the past couple of months, you’ve noticed how crazy stupid hot it has been. On the 18th we tied our record for hottest day ever in the city at 107°– the only other time it has been that toasty was in 1936. And even before that, on the 17th, we learned five more Marylanders had died from heat-related causes, bringing our total to 20 for the summer.
HOT HOUSE: Tudor Farms, 3675 Decoursey Bridge Road, Cambridge, MD 21613
Spectacular hunting lodge with 6,250 acres of land, indoor riding ring and stables, indoor tennis/sports center, two guest houses, barns, kennels and picking house, in Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: $30 million.
What: Built as a weekend retreat in 1990 for Wall Street hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones–who later pled guilty to federal wetlands violations there–this is a grand, Adirondack-style hunting lodge of turn-of the-century splendor. Eleven bedrooms, ten and a half baths, and eight fireplaces on three stories make it a natural for large group entertaining (your family reunion!), and would work really well as a small hotel or private hunting club. Heated and cooled with geothermal energy, the house is supplied with all the custom features you would expect in a $30 million property. Gourmet kitchen? Duh. Yoga room? Yup. Games room? Check. Walk-in closets, built-in bookcases and hardwood floors? Check. Window treatments all in-place, and included, a nice touch. In the living room, a breathtaking wall of glass overlooks the water. Even so, the real appeal of the place is at least as much about the property as the house. Head for the basketball court or the equestrian center, to check out the riding ring and pristine stables. Then off to the kennels, ready for your pack of hounds. This is a nature connoisseur’s paradise. Considered “one of the most important hunting estates in the country” and categorized for tax purposes as a “hunting and fishing reserve,” the land has been carefully managed to insure the widest variety of native wildlife. There are ponds for fishing, wetlands and woodland for hunting duck, goose, turkey, pheasant, deer and more. The peaceful, private atmosphere (broken only by occasional gunfire…) creates a haven for man and beast. Fun fact: The lake on the property has islands in the shape of the owner’s initials PTJ.
Where: Cambridge (pop.12,326), a pretty town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its also one of the state’s oldest towns, so guests not out hunting on the reserve can get a little history and shop its galleries and markets. To get there, take Rt. 50 east over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Go about 40 more miles and you’ll cross the Choptank River and be in Cambridge. Decoursey Bridge Road is about six miles out Bucktown Road from Cambridge.
Why: The picking house obviously–how many people do you know who have one? But really, because this is an over-the-top man cave, a boy’s retreat, where hunting is the main event and every day is Superbowl Sunday. The former owner’s status as a Wall Street celeb gives it extra cachet. Jones, 56, nickname PTJ, is a Memphis boy and UVA grad/major donor who made a killing in the 1980’s futures market as head of Tudor Investments. He founded the Robin Hood Foundation with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, married an Australian model after dating Bianca Jagger and Christina Onassis, and was involved in a minor scandal when his environmental planner, hired to create ten duck ponds on the property, was convicted of knowingly in-filling wetlands and sentenced to two years in jail. Jones paid $2 million in fines. Interestingly, Jones is also the star of a rogue documentary called “Trader,” (a clip currently shows on the Baltimore Fishbowl video landing) recently released on You Tube after years off the market (rumor is that Jones tried to buy all the copies out there) in which, among other things he predicts the Wall Street crash of 1987. Current worth, $3.3 billion.
NB: No swimming pool–possibly due to environmental concerns or restrictions. Also, an ongoing battle with nutria, a small destructive rodent currently infesting North American wetlands.
Would suit: Teddy Roosevelt…Great White Hunter…Dick Cheney…
HOT HOUSE: 16835 Gerting Rd, Monkton 20111
Shaker-style low-country farmhouse, with Amish barn and guesthouse, designed and built by local architects. 10 acres of paddocks and 65+ acres of wooded land in My Lady’s Manor: $2,395,000
What: Built in 2000, and designed by Faith Nevins Hawks, this is a stunning home in its own right, currently listed in the New York Times Great Homes and Destinations. The façade is at once impressive and disarming, with a second-story, screened ‘sleeping porch’ that offers panoramic vistas over rolling countryside. The rooms are airy and well proportioned, uniting traditional and modern in quintessential Shaker manner. Five bedrooms, three and a half baths, with a lovely master bedroom suite and that amazing porch upstairs offer comfort. Nice kitchen/great room as well as cozy, more formal dining room on the ground floor make for great family hang out space. Marble baths, cherry floors, built-ins, crunching pea-gravel entrance and paths, perfect gardens —everything to a very high standard. But it is largely about the horses here in My Lady’s Manor, and the Amish-built barn that houses the stables is a cathedral to equine culture. Pristine and serene, with sunlight weaving through the vaulted wooden beams, the workmanship competes only with the bucolic setting and the horses themselves for attention. Inside: six stalls, post and beam construction and heated tack room. When you’re not out in the barn or riding on the 65+ acres, you can work-out in the house gym, swim in the pool or visit the chickens in their custom coop.
Where: Follow York Road all the way north to the tiny village of Monkton, about 10 miles north of Shawan Road. Nearest landmark is the bike crossing at the NCR trail.
Why: ecause you love to breed, race or ride horses, or love someone who does. Also, because you appreciate the Shaker aesthetic, “’tis a gift to be simple.” Here, it’s all about the luxury of fine design and materials, as opposed to giant columns and acres of granite.
Why Not: “Goodbye, city life!” For an urban or suburbanite, this location is pretty far out there. Forget to pick up the milk, and you’ve got a good long haul ahead of you, unless the picturesque little store in tiny Monkton village happens to be open. Good new is, your only 10 miles from Dover Saddlery, and 4 miles to the Manor Tavern, the local watering hole.
Would suit: Stylish but serious horseman.