Saturday, March 5, 2011

eating large in Baltimore

We spent 3 days in Baltimore this week with Josh and Cathy and our three granddaughters who are 3 of the four most beautiful, smartest and funniest granddaughters on the planet (I made if 3 of 4 to make it possible for you to fit your granddaughter into the mix....) I should write about them and probably will soon, but what I want to write about is Saturday's breakfast.

We almost always go out to breakfast on Saturday when we're in Baltimore. Usually, we go to a diner and it is pretty good diner food. Lots of cops and construction workers eat there, so that is a vote of confidence.

But this Saturday we went to a new place Josh and Cathy found. It's called Miss Shirley's Cafe, a Baltimore based two Cafe chain. One is in the Inner Harbor and the one we went to is in a section of town called Roland Park, near John Hopkins undergraduate campus and the Episcopal Cathedral. You can look it up at It was one of the memorable breakfasts of my life. And I'm a breakfast guy. There is nothing about breakfast I don't like. I especially like breakfast in the south--and Baltimore, though above the Mason-Dixon line, is a very southern city. But Miss Shirleys is 'southern' on steroids, southern mixed with Top Chef, a selection of food such as I have never experienced.

OK, let me tell you what the twins had: they had french toast. Morgan had scrapple (from up in PA, you'd never want to know what part of the pig they put in it, but it's great. She scraped the garnish off the top. Emma bacon.

Bern had Coconut Cream Stuffed French Toast. The menu (which I took) describes it this way: "Cream cheese, Mascarpone Cheese, Flaked Coconut, Bruleed Bananas, Dipped in an almond scented egg mix, garnished with diced strawberries and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon." The bread was challah and was crisp and hot while the stuffing tasted like coconut cream pie and was cold. Figure out how they did that....

Cathy had "What Came First?" one benne seed fried boneless breast of chicken on a biscuit and one poached egg on a biscuit, smothered in peppery ground beef and sausage gravy. Come on, chicken and egg? They also have Chicken and waffles. And anything smothered in gravy...what else can you want.

Josh had Sunrise Benedict: Poached eggs and House-mad slow roasted Carolina Pulled Pork on corn bread rounds with collard greens made with tasso ham and Cajun Hollandaise sauce. Any similarity to Canadian Bacon on and English Muffin is not on coincidental, it doesn't even count as a similarity!

Mine--I saved the best for last--was "Gets your grits on". As described in the menu, though the menu does no justice to the mean, "Jumbo Blackened Shrimp on Fried Green Tomatoes, Savory Grits made with Bacon and Roasted Corn Emulsion". Three of my favorite foods: fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits. The tomatoes were among the best I've ever had--fried in corn meal and sturdy and tangy--the shrimp was amazing and each of the three slices of green tomato had two huge shrimp on top of the grits that topped the tomatoes. But the grits--let me tell you this as a grits aficionado --these were, by far, the best I've ever tasted.

Here's how 'savory grits' are described elsewhere in the menu: "Heavy cream, Mascarpone Cheese, chives, Apple-wood smoked bacon and tomatoes." If you like grits, or even if you don't ponder that recipe for a while. Holy-Moley!

And, get this, the food, those complicated things, all arrived before anyone finished their first cup of coffee.

So, if you're ever in Baltimore, check out Miss Shirley's Cafe for breakfast.

It is pricey. "Two eggs any style" with homefries or grits is $10. Most items are in the mid to upper teens. But to eat something you have never eaten before and discover it is not only 'as good as it sounded' but better than you could have imagined--we all agreed on that....well, what's money for but to bring pleasure and do good....?

Hope I made you hungry.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.