Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The F'n New Guy

It's true.

I've been traveling a lot this year. Which means that I haven't been behind the bar at The Spro as much as years past. Perhaps that's just the nature of things, but I always try to work at least one or two bar shifts per week, and I train every barista that works for me (save one).

So it was particularly amusing (and admittedly slightly irritating) when a customer came up to the counter this evening and asked my name and if I was the new guy here. Evidently, he comes in typically during the morning and knows the morning crew but doesn't know me.

I just couldn't bare to tell him the truth and perhaps embarrass him.

Instead, I played along as "The New Guy" and just let things flow. He offered some words of encouragement and to "keep up the good work" before heading off into the sunset. It was a classic moment. Never mind that my photo in the clipping from the latest issue of Baltimore Magazine is posted in front of the espresso machine.

Now, if I could only figure out how to get fired...

Freda's Kitchen

Corned Beef on Rye, Matzoh Ball Soup, Utz Crab Chips & Ginger Ale.

I happened to be wandering around Mount Washington Village a couple of weeks ago when I hear someone calling my name. I look but don't immediately recognize the person. He obviously knows me and not just because of my celebrity. The way he's calling out to me tells me that I actually know him as well.

Once focus comes into vision, I realize that it's my old cigar buddy Marty. I haven't seen him in a couple of years since our informal cigar club at Max's disbanded. Turns out he built and opened the newest deli in Baltimore here in the Village. Marty takes me on a tour and gives me a sampling of their house-made corned beef. It's some of the best corned beef I've had anywhere.

His secret? Marty has lured one of the top beef guys from Edmart Deli in Pikesville to do the meats for him. After my tour, I make a promise to come back and try the food. Today, I made good on that promise.

Wednesday is Dairy Day. Every Wednesday, I head down into the city to pick up the weeks' supply of dairy for The Spro. While not as convenient as delivery, there's flexibility in ordering plus it gives me a chance to go into the city, take care of any business down there and have lunch with Hawaii friend Dai. Each week we try to taste something new.

I grew up in Pikesville, which means I've been exposed to Jewish delis all my life. In fact, you could spot our house during Christmastime because we were the only house for miles with Christmas lights. For me, an outing to a deli always means corned beef and/or pastrami. I like mine on toasted bread with french fries and a side of matzoh ball soup. And that's just the way I ordered it at Freda's, except without the fries since they don't do that there.

Pastrami on White.

Like my previous taste, the corned beef was moist, tender and succulent. I asked Marty to prepare the sandwich the way he likes it: on rye, untoasted with some deli mustard. Just plain. Just simple. Let the flavors speak for themselves. And speak they certainly did. The only problem with the sandwich was that I wish it were thicker. Give me the Broadway Danny Rose with this corned beef and I could be a happy man. I might even wear a ירמולקא (that's Yiddish for "yarmulke").

Along with my sandwich, I also ordered the matzoh ball soup. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of eating matzoh slathered with peanut butter and jelly. Yum.

The soup however is just okay. A bit bland. It needs seasoning. It needs salt. Once I added some salt and stirred it in, the flavor started to come alive. It's served in a paper container, which is good for sipping but the matzoh ball had a problem. It wasn't just cold in the center, the core was still frozen, which explains why it was so hard to cut through with my plastic spoon. Which could also be the reason why the soup was warm but not piping hot.

A Chocolate Top Cookie

Dai ordered the pastrami sandwich and it looked pretty good. I didn't try it, but I did try their chocolate topped cookie. It's kind of Baltimore's imitation Berger Cookie - even though the Berger Cookies are also from Baltimore. The cookie was good, as far as chocolate topped cookies go.

Overall, the food was good but the service was really good. Our cashier was friendly, energetic and quite attractive - not that that has anything to do with it. My usual "go to" deli has always been Miller's on Smith Avenue. Now I might have to visit Mt. Washington Village more.

Freda's Kitchen
1604 Kelly Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21209