I visited Baltimore once before when I was very young, and I don't remember much except stopping by Johns Hopkins (part of my parents' plan to encourage me to go to medical school) and getting lost in a not-so-good neighborhood (because every family vacation deserves a good in-car yelling match). That brief visit doesn't count in my book, so this was my first real trip to Baltimore. And I think in the few days I was here, I got to experience some of the best things the city has to offer.
I stayed in the Inner Harbor, which is within walking distance to so many points of interest, including the National Aquarium, Camden Yards, the Ravens stadium, Power Plant Live, plenty of restaurants, and great shopping.
While in Baltimore, I went to my first major league baseball game at Camden Yards -- Orioles versus Tampa Bay Rays. I didn't realize that baseball lasted THAT long. But sitting in a private suite with fun people, delicious gourmet versions of ballpark food (like buffalo chicken mac 'n' cheese and slow-roasted jalapeno pulled pork), and an open bar made the innings move at a great pace. Plus, I learned how to play moundball. And the Orioles won.
The next day I connected with a long lost friend from high school. It turned out that he worked less than 10 miles away from where I was staying, so we made plans to meet up in the afternoon for some crab cakes. But not just any crab cakes. The best crab cakes of my life.
We drove a few miles outside of Baltimore to Linthicum Heights and went to G & M Restaurant and Lounge, where you can find "Maryland's #1 Crab Cakes." I ordered the crab cake platter and nearly yelled out with joy and surprise after my first bite. It was nothing like I had eaten before. It wasn't heavily breaded. It wasn't flat like a patty. It was loaded with fresh, tasty lump crab meat. And each bite came with a chunk of flavorful crab meat. (I'm drooling as I type this.)
On my last night, I went to Nick's Fish House and Grill, which is a great restaurant on the water. We had a little private party upstairs with a live musician, and it was an all-you-can-eat crab boil with buckets and buckets of steamed to order Maryland blue crabs being dumped on the table just as fast as you could crack 'em and eat 'em. I'm pretty sure that my table of seven ate at least 100 crabs. And these things weren't little. I was lucky that I sat with a native Marylander who showed me how to properly declaw and hammer up a steamed crab. After my first three, I got the hang of everything and became an unstoppable crab-eating machine.
I felt a little bad for the young lady who was waiting on our table. After she dumped out the third bucket of steamed crabs on our table, she realized that there was no way she would be able to keep up with taking away the empty, cracked shells. We were just that fast and that hungry.
This was perhaps the most active I've ever been while eating, and I really enjoyed it. We only had one injury at the table (someone got a little cut on his finger from a sharp crab claw), and I was able to dodge a flying piece of crab meat that was heading towards my left eye. It was a close one, but I managed not to get blinded.
I can't wait to eat like this again. The only downside to the dinner was that no matter how many times I scrubbed and washed with gallons of soap and water, my fingers smelled like Old Bay seasoning for at least a week.
Following our crab-scapades, a group of us hit up Power Plant Live! for some late night fun, and we ended up spending hours at Howl at the Moon. What an awesome time singing and dancing. I wish there was a dueling piano bar where I live...
I need to plan a return trip to Baltimore soon. There's still more I need to see, and there are still thousands of blue crabs that are waiting for me to eat them.