Spring In Your Glass: Seasonal Wine Recommendations From Fleet Street Kitchen

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by Tim Riley, Bagby Group Sommelier & Beverage Director

Like the transition between fall and winter, the turn from winter to spring is a dramatic one on the seasonal table. At our own farm – and the many farms of our friends and neighbors – winter is a time of minimal harvesting; the products we get during the colder months are either coming from greenhouses, or, in the case of root vegetables, root cellars filled with items harvested weeks or months before.

Spring changes everything. Suddenly the kitchens of our restaurants are flooded with piles of fava beans, green peas, fiddleheads, nettles, ramps, asparagus and spring onions. Despite their varying uses, all of these ingredients share an intense “green,” herbaceous profile.

When considering wine pairings with dishes that feature these items, some thought must be given, as that “greeness” can clash with many fruit-driven wines, both red and white. What is desirable is a wine that shows a similar herbaceousness, one that can serve as a mirror to the flavors found in the dish.

White wines tend to work better than reds, and perhaps the very best of all is Grüner Veltliner. This Austrian white is a dream to work with this year, as even when fully ripe it retains a, well, “green” celery and white pepper-like flavor that matches perfectly with even the most intense spring flavors. Other white grapes that come to mind are Sauvignon Blanc (lean towards those from France or South Africa here. The Sincerely from Neil Ellis at Cunningham’s is a perfect example), Vermentino and Verdicchio.

For reds, as mentioned above, the options are more limited. My go-to here is Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. Like Grüner, it retains a certain herbaceousness – one often redolent of basil, rosemary or thyme – alongside its rather intense minerality. It is also extraordinarily undervalued: top-shelf examples can be found on our wine lists for well under $50.

All this said, perhaps my favorite match is neither white nor red but in fact rosé. Again, one needs to choose carefully here as lighter, drier, cripser rosés are going to make for far better pairings than their richer, fruitier cousins, but the category works quite well, in general. Champange tends to be too rich for most springtime cuisine, but lighter, more linear Blanc de Blancs can be nice, as can other sparklers from Loire or the Jura.

If all else fails, don’t forget about beer: Saison, either Belgian or American makes for some unexpectedly great pairings!

Of course, if you’d like to learn more about spring wine pairings, join us for our upcoming seasonal wine dinner at Fleet Street Kitchen. Chef Correll will be preparing some delicious dishes with some of the ingredients mentioned above and we will be pouring several of the varietals mentioned as well. For tickets, click the image above or call 410-244-5830.

Pies, Cookies, & A Perfect Dinner For The Fall Harvest at Cunningham’s Cafe

I know I’m not alone in saying this, but fall has always been my favorite season. The vibrant colors, the crisp air, and of course the food. Since we opened the cafe back in March, I’ve been anxious for the colder weather to arrive so our baristas could start serving some of my favorite house made concoctions and combinations (Habanero Hot Chocolate, anyone?). Fall temperatures have been a little late to arrive in Baltimore this year, but the harvest we’ve received from the farm the past few weeks has been absolutely gorgeous–dark green Fairytale pumpkins with their more conventional looking Long Island Cheese counterparts, piles of Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Broccoli Rabe, Napa Cabbage, Leeks, Artichokes, and Fennel (to name a few!). We’re always looking for new ways to share our farm fresh bounty with the community, and last month month we hosted our very first pop up dinner to do just that.

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We were joined by 34 excited guests to partake in the wonderful dishes that Chefs Jason Lear and Kristoffer Vandevander prepared–everything from our own Butternut Squash to Ferguson Farms’ incredible Short Rib. Baker John Aversa’s wonderful bread was available to all– freshly baked boules of Sweet Potato Pepitas complimented the menu nicely (Check out his recent feature in Baltimore Magazine). Along with dinner, guests had a choice of beer or wine (some seasonal beer offerings from Brewer’s Art as well as our own Cunningham’s Cuvee, a Cote Du Rhone red blended by our talented Beverage Director Tim Riley). Then there was dessert! Our incredible pastry department, with Executive Chef Angie Law at the helm, created some absolutely stunning desserts: Cranberry Lemon Meringue Pie [pictured], Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, and a Chocolate Pecan Tart. To accompany dessert, we offered Hot Apple Cider and espresso beverages crafted from Ceremony’s delicious Mass Appeal blend.

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For anyone interested, we will be pre-selling those desserts in the cafe, as well as a Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Order by Sunday, November 23rd in the cafe and your dessert(s) will be available for pickup Wednesday, November 26th. The desserts range from $24-$32 and serve between 8-12 people. To order or for more information on pies and cookies available call 410-339-7750

We had a really lovely evening with the guests who joined us. Since the seating and plates we offered were family style, it really encouraged everyone to relax and make friends. By the end of the evening, it was difficult to tell who had arrived together and who had started as perfect strangers. To everyone that joined us: thank you so much, we are always amazed by the warm and generous spirit of this community and we hope to offer another “after-hours” event in the cafe very soon! Stay tuned for more “pop-up” events in the new year by signing up for our email list or following us Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We have some exciting things on the horizon here at Cunningham’s Cafe!

Cunningham’s Cafe October Pop Up Dinner Menu

Hors D’Oeuvres

Cheese, Bread, Housemade Jams & Pickles, Housemade Porchetta

Beverages

Brewer’s Art Green Peppercorn Trippel, Le Canard, and Coup de Boule, Cunningham’s Cuvee, Bernier Chardonnay

Amuse

Butternut Squash Soup topped with Nutmeg Marshmallow

First Course

Parisian Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash & Shaved Pecorino

Second Course

Braised Ferguson Farms’ Short Rib with Rapini & Horseradish Whipped Potatoes

Dessert

Assorted Seasonal Pies & Tarts with housemade ice cream & Hot Apple Cider or Ceremony Coffee

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Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

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Fall Apple Gallette

Top Ten Reasons To Drink Riesling In Baltimore

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After recently giving an in depth training on Austrian Riesling to the FSK staff, Fleet Street Kitchen & Bagby Restaurant Group’s Beverage Director Tim Riley and Sommelier Philip Lucas offered up their “Top Ten Reasons To Drink Riesling in Baltimore”… Enjoy (and please excuse their bad jokes)…

1) Crabs. Never has a more perfect food and beverage pairing been imagined than blue crabs and Riesling. Sometimes people forget just how delicate the flavor of blue crab really is; overwhelming that delicacy with California Chardonnay or, god forbid, some sort of Imperial IPA should be a felony.

2) Heat. Its supposed to be 95 or above every single day this week. With temperatures like these, one needs a wine with ample acidity and a light enough frame to not seem heavy or tiresome. Enter Riesling. While we’re not sure of its electrolyte content, we can assure you its more refreshing than Gatorade. 

3) H.L. Mencken, who kept a cellar full of German Riesling to get him through Prohibition. We bet he was removing bottles pretty regularly during the summer months at 1524 Hollins Road. We’ll follow his lead. 

4) Lake Trout. Okay, its not trout and it doesn’t come from a lake, but when its fried until crispy and dashed with hot sauce, it becomes the sort of dish that needs Riesling as its sidekick. We’d lean towards something just off-dry, but pretty much anything you find should work. 

5) FSK’s Hermann J. Wiemer Wine Dinner. A shameless plug, we admit, but this is a no brainer: five Rieslings from arguably the best producer of Riesling outside of Europe paired with five courses from Fleet Street Kitchen’s Executive Chef, Chris Amendola. And before you go ahead thinking Chef will be taking the easy route and offering five dishes of seafood, be sure to check out the menu. Four words: lamb neck with Riesling. Amazing. (The dinner is on Wednesday July 24th at 6:00pm. $79 per person.)

6) Chris Davis. He’s on pace for the first 60 home run season baseball has seen in twelve years. Sounds like something to celebrate. Champagne? In this heat? No way. He needs Sekt, the German term for sparkling wine – the best examples being made from Riesling. Fizzy, bright and gulpable, this stuff is so delicious, Mr. Davis might consider drinking it instead of spraying it on his teammates. 

7) The Summer of Riesling, Baby! Did it take us this long to mention that it is THE Summer of Riesling? A nationwide celebration began by the ultimate wine iconoclast, Paul Grieco, a few years back, one can now find all sorts of interesting Riesling promotions going on at a handful of restaurants across town. Our very own Fleet Street Kitchen is participating, of course, as is Wit & Wisdom, Pabu, Wine Market and Mr. Rain’s Funhouse. 

8) More refreshing than Natty Boh. Its tough to knock Boh. Its a Baltimore tradition. But whether patio dining, sitting on the front stoop, or cooking in front of the grill, you’re more likely to find a glass of Riesling in our hands than a can of Boh. Again, no offense to Mr. Boh, but until he can offer the spine-tingling acidity of a good Kabinett, we’ll stick with Riesling. 

9) Value. Here’s one of the best kept secrets in the wine world: Riesling is ridiculously undervalued; for $20 to $30 one can buy world-class examples. Even for $10 to $20 there are scores of spectacular options. How many spectacular wines can one find for $10 from Napa or Bordeaux? Not many. 

 
10) You probably don’t drink enough Riesling. Chinese food, Vietnamese food, Thai food, anything seafood related, most pork dishes… are you drinking Riesling? If not, you should be. Going over to dinner somewhere and unsure what the host is making? Bring a bottle of Riesling. Rivaled only by rosé, Riesling is flat-out the most food flexible wine there is. It drinks well with just about everything. Not a believer? Join us in our restaurants this summer, order a glass, a few plates of food and see what we mean. 

Maryland Soft-Shell Celebration at Fleet Street Kitchen & Ten Ten American Bistro

For the next week, soft-shell blue crabs are hitting the tables across Baltimore for Downtown Partnership’s Soft-Shell Celebration. Here at Fleet Street and Ten Ten, Chef Amendola and Chef Black have prepared two magnificent soft-shell specials. These will be running for the next week….

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Ten Ten American Bistro

Yuzu Tempura Soft Shell Blue Crab – chili aioli, radish, pickled ramps, napa cabbage

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Fleet Street Kitchen

Cornmeal Fried Soft Shell Blue Crab – arugula-almond pesto, snow peas, confit duck

“Campfire” From Pastry Chef Bettina Perry & Our Spring Cocktail Release

Spring has officially sprung, and summer is not far away! Inspired by the smoke of summer campfires, Fleet Street Kitchen’s Pastry Chef Bettina Perry has created a gorgeous new dessert, aptly named “Campfire,” feautring her smoked tea & chocolate ice cream.

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Beverage Director Tim Riley has also been hard at work creating some spring inspired cocktails for Fleet Street Kitchen, many of which are made with his housemade ingredients, including a rose vermouth and hibiscus grenadine. Each cocktail adds it’s own flavor to the palate of spring and the early buds of summer.

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Creole ~ Rye whiskey, house rosé vermouth, benedictine, house amer picon

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Blaze Starr ~ Vodka, house rhubarb jam, hibiscus grenadine, lemon

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Willie’s Revenge ~ single malt scotch, local honey, bonal, lemon, kümmel, union craft brewing sour wheat ale

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Shirts vs. Blouses  ~ tequila, pimm’s #1, cassis, lime

A Bagby Kitchen Recipe: TEN TEN’s Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes

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Chef Roger Black is a big fan of pancakes. So when he recently came on as our new Chef  De Cuisine at Ten Ten American Bistro, perfecting Ten Ten’s sour cream pancake recipe was high on his list. Sour cream gives pancakes an added tangy flavor, similar to buttermilk, but their true decadence is in their texture. Smooth and silky, a bite into these pancakes is unbeatable. This may be one of the sexiest pancake recipe yet. We pair it with our homemade blueberry preserves and mint, sourced from our own Cunningham Farms, and a slide of extra sour cream (or as we did at Easter, some homemade Nutella).    Note: if you’ve never tried mint with blueberries and pancakes, you’re in for a surprise! We hope you enjoy this recipe and if you’re not a cook, you are always welcome to stop in to Ten Ten for brunch (Sundays, 11am-3pm)…the pancakes will be waiting for you.

TEN TEN’S SOUR CREAM PANCAKES

1 3/4 cups sour cream014
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter – melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Enjoy and let us know what you think of the recipe by commenting below!

New Desserts at Fleet Street Kitchen!

Pastry Chef Bettina Perry has been hard at work creating some masterpieces for Valentine’s Day Weekend. These desserts will be available all weekend! 

Passion Fruit Soda Float
chocolate ice cream, violet, chocolate bubbles

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Pistachio Pavlova
milk cream, roses, harvested mixed summer berry sorbet

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Chocolate Palette
dried cherries, red rooibos tea, vanilla, saffron

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