It’s officially fall, that season of so many highly anticipated flavors, from pumpkin spice to apple cider to maple. (Have you tried the new Old Bay Caramel Seasoning yet?)
We’ll be doing plenty of reporting on autumnal delicacies in the weeks to come. But, while the weather’s still warm, here’s another fall dining idea to consider: a charcuterie board picnic.
Make your own with meats, cheeses, olives and more from local staples such as the Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar or Federal Hill’s Cheese Galore and More. Or you can order one to-go: Boards in a Box, which opens a storefront in Highlandtown this weekend, specializes in take-away charcuterie boards for picnics, parties and other events, though owner Christin Reuter says you really don’t need a special occasion to snack on meat and cheese.
Reuter started her business in late 2020, offering to assemble charcuterie boards for friends who were celebrating New Year’s Eve at home. Soon, her inbox was flooded with requests for boards for Ravens games and other celebrations. The business really started to take off on Valentine’s Day of last year, when she assembled 50 boards in a weekend.
While she buys meats wholesale, Reuter says she mainly purchases her cheeses from a familiar source: Trader Joe’s. The employees at her local TJ’s know whenever she’s making a business run. “They call me the cheese girl,” Reuter says.
The Boards in a Box name comes from her early method of packing: Reuter arranged meats, cheeses and other snacks on an eco-friendly board made of palm leaves, wrapped it all up in plastic, then placed it in a pie box for easy transport.
Today, most of Reuter’s boards are too big to fit into a pie box. Options range from a small board ($65) to an extra-large one, which sells for $150 and feeds about 14 people. In her new brick-and-mortar shop at 406 S. Conkling St., she plans to sell smaller boxes for lunches and date nights — or picnics — as well.
Cava opens in Brewers Hill
Here’s an update for the neighborhood message boards.
Cava, the fast-casual restaurant chain that’s been called “the Chipotle of Mediterranean cuisine,” opened an outpost in Brewers Hill last week. The chain hasn’t had a presence in the city since Cava Mezze, a more formal version of the concept, closed in Harbor East, and it’s been hotly anticipated since it was announced last year (just ask the Canton neighborhood Facebook pages, where community members regularly inquire about opening updates).
Baltimore’s Cava marked its Sept. 15 opening with free lunch and dinner giveaways. Soon it will be joined by a Shake Shack restaurant next door, which is still under construction but looks to be almost complete. A Shake Shack spokesperson couldn’t provide an update on when the burger chain plans to open, but the company is advertising for staff, with pay starting at $13 an hour, plus tips.
Both restaurants are opening in the shadow of cranes building on one of Southeast Baltimore’s last undeveloped stretches of land. Mark Sapperstein’s 28 Walker Development firm is behind the nearby “Collective at Canton” project, which already includes Bark Social, a dog park and bar, and a Sprouts grocery store. Across the street from Shake Shack and Cava, the shell of another retail strip is already in place: Tenants there, according to applications filed with the city’s zoning board, will include Starbucks, Quickway Japanese Hibachi and a Sleep Number mattress store — in case your mind is on napping after all that food.
Joaquin Phoenix advocates for vegan seafood alternatives
Don’t invite Joaquin Phoenix to any crab feasts.
The Oscar-winning method actor has a new role: advocate for crabs, fish and other sea creatures. Visitors to the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park this weekend might catch a glimpse of Phoenix pretending to drown in a video produced by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization with a history of protesting the Maryland seafood industry.
You might remember the group for its 2018 pro-vegan campaign, in which PETA paid for a billboard on East Baltimore Street with an image of a crab and the words, “I’m me, not meat. See the individual. Go vegan.”
The organization’s latest stunt aims to remind people that fish can feel pain, too. “In water, humans drown, just as fish suffocate on land,” Phoenix says in the 41-second video, which will be screened from a vehicle circling the state park. “It’s slow and painful and frightening. … Put yourself in their place. Try to relate.”
Meats and sweets coming to Lexington Market
Is there a sweeter childhood memory than scarfing down candy at Grandma’s house?
One of the new vendors coming to the revitalized and soon-to-reopen Lexington Market draws from his own fond recollections of being spoiled by a grandparent.
Donald Terry Jr. cites the small dish of chocolates, mints and flavored candies at his granny’s house as the inspiration for Betty Lee’s Candy Dish, the stall he will be running inside the Westside market when it reopens later this year.
True to the nostalgia, Betty Lee’s Candy Dish — named for Terry’s grandmother — will sell retro sweets such as Peanut Chews, peanut butter-and-molasses Mary Janes and coconut-dusted Chick-O-Sticks. Staples like gummy bears, cotton candy, jelly beans and candied apples will also be available at the booth, as well as other “healthy, experiential and exotic” offerings, according to a market news release.
Lexington Market also recently announced that another staple vendor, Buffalo Bill’s II, will be making the jump to the new building.
The stall, owned by Joseph Kim, has been a vital source of fresh meat for two decades, and will continue to sell cuts of pork, beef and ham, as well as sausages, bacon, smoked meats and specialty items like smoked ham hocks and pig tails in the new space.
Kim says he looks forward to “being a source of familiarity and comfort” for customers shopping in the brand-new $40 million Lexington Market building, which has so far unveiled 38 vendors but has not set a grand opening date.
A brief introduction as a new food reporter digs in
Starting this week, I’ll be your new guide to all things food in Baltimore and beyond. I’ve been tracking the Greater Baltimore restaurant scene for the past five years as a reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal, and I’m excited to keep digging into the region’s many culinary delights in my new role as The Baltimore Sun’s food writer.
I’m cooking up some story ideas, but would love to know what you’re craving. What restaurants do I need to visit? Who do I need to talk to? What trends should I be tracking? Send me your thoughts at email@example.com.