Two old friends cornered me at church to remind me of some other vanished Baltimore food favorites. Annette Nagler recalled Fiske's ice cream and cakes, and Bill Zorzi nominated Jordan Stabler's ham spread and homemade mayonnaise. I should have known. These foods were often present at the home of my birth.
These encounters followed a column published last Saturday, where I asked, "Do unattainable foods resonate better in our memories?" Since then, I've heard from many persons, and here are some of the ideas that crossed my desk this week.
Gail Castleman wrote about her father, Isadore Castleman, who was the man behind the ice cream at Marconi's restaurant on Saratoga Street.
"Pop died in 1981 and unfortunately, so did Castleman's Spumoni and Tortoni Ice Cream Co. His french vanilla had a butterfat content that was off the charts and, of course it was made with eggs. ... Dad's machinery was so antiquated I used to ask him, 'Pop, how do you know when the cream has whipped up high enough?' His answer was 'The whipper would tell you, listen for the grinding sound'. ... The day he died he had made ice cream earlier."
Susan Michel Westminster endorses "Silber's peach cake & fudge-topped cookies." She also recalls that when her father-in-law was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins, "I went to the Lexington Market and got him a fresh ham sandwich and a pint of Castle Farms buttermilk. He fell on it like a wolf."
I heartily concur with another of her picks: "But what I miss most is the pizza in the old bar at DeNittis in Little Italy. My favorite pizza of all time, and I cherish the memories of sitting in that little old bar, playing hooky from work, eating pizza, drinking beer, watching old black and white movies on the TV, chatting with the bartender and other frequent customers."
Does anyone recall the cooked eggs in the DeNittis lasagna? How about hot beef and fries at the White Coffee Pot, coddies and pickled onions at many Baltimore corner stores, Prevas' milkshakes at the Broadway Market and Price's Dairy's hot dogs?
Other readers, who posted online responses, came up with a dinner of Haussner's lobster dainties, fried eggplant, creamed spinach and creamed onions, and strawberry pie, all accompanied by the fabled Eastern Avenue restaurant's bread basket.
For bakeries, readers recalled Levin's on Patterson Park Avenue and Kubin's, also in East Baltimore, where the earthy rye was coated in rock salt. Stone's on Lombard Street also received high marks.
I applaud the reader who recalled the finger bowls at the Hochschild Kohn tearoom. Who says that Baltimore is a rough-and-tumble place?
In the sweet department, there was ice cream from Brookwood Farms in Anne Arundel County, Dad's oatmeal cookies on Frederick Avenue, Read's soda fountain fudge sauce and Muhly's cinnamon cake.
Cary Connelly described a fabulous "gastronomic adventure" he enjoyed with a fellow newspaper delivery boy in the Gywnn Oak-Howard Park neighborhood: "I recall that Harley's was open until 3 a.m. which was about the time the distributor would deliver the Sunday Sun. To obtain our fuel for this endeavor, we had a Harley burger: two hamburger patties of dubious origin that had been soaking in the special sauce for hours, limp onions marinated in the same goo, a couple of squirts of yellow mustard and a generous amount of the sauce slathered over the entire assembly. To this day I believe this to be the finest breakfast ever designed by man."
Roslyn Klein, whose father owned a Washington and Orleans streets drugstore and fountain, sent her recipe for a replica Marconi's hot fudge sundae:
Combine half a cup of cocoa with three-quarters of a cup sugar in a saucepan; add two-thirds of a cup evaporated milk and one-third cup light corn syrup; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat. Add one-third cup margarine and a teaspoon of vanilla. Serve over vanilla ice cream.
Too bad Mr. Castleman isn't around to make his fabulous ice cream.