Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On The Waterfront

Baltimore Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I
share a laugh before dinner
Under orders to stay off my swollen leg as much as possible, it seemed only fitting to finagle an invitation to dine out from my former husband and frequent companion, Jesse. Normally, I love to cook on weekends and Jesse delights in taking advantage of my gustatory adventures in the small kitchen of my historic farmhouse in Baltimore County, Maryland. But Jesse is a generous soul, and one look at my grievous injury (see Stitches) convinced him that dinner in a nice restaurant would be just what the doctor had in mind. But where to go?

We perused a short list of restaurants in Baltimore City that we had not yet tried and a trendy spot by local celebrity chef Jerry Pellegrino came to mind.  Jesse has long been a fan of the Radio Kitchen food show with Al Spoler and Jerry Pellegrino which airs every week on the Baltimore affiliate of National Public Radio. Billed as a “seed-to-plate restaurant that sources ingredients as locally and seasonally as possible”, Pellegino's Waterfront Kitchen is situated at the westernmost tip of Thames Street in the Historic Fells Point area of Baltimore.  Although it was a fairly last minute choice on a gorgeous late summer evening, the restaurant had an opening for dinner at 8:00 p.m. Serendipity?

Diners on the boardwalk at Waterfront
Kitchen enjoyed delightful late
summer weather Saturday night
I chose a long summer sundress by Bisou Bisou from JCPenney in cool jewel tones to hide my bum leg and accented the watery hues with a beaded bracelet and earrings from Macy's and a sparkly cocktail ring I picked up for $10 in Las Vegas during a girl's weekend two years ago. Comfy jute-heeled, faux-snakeskin sandals kept it casual and lent a touch of the exotic to my look.

Our table was just steps from the
water's edge
When I explained to the hostess that we’d never dined at her establishment before, the young lady promised to give us a table sure to make a lasting first impression.  She was right.  Led through a main dining room tastefully appointed by Patrick Sutton, like Jesse a designer of commercial spaces (and an acquaintance of his), we were taken down some steps and out onto the rear deck, where we were seated under the stars at the water’s very edge.  As we gazed in amazement at the sweeping views of Baltimore‘s harbor, we were met with another surprise: one of Jesse’s dearest friends, Jenny, who gave me a pumpkin vine from her garden last summer (see Cool Summer Supper), walked by our table, menus in hand.  Jenny was to be our waitress this night!

A watermelon sparkler was
a  perfect way to start
an amazing evening 
Before we even had a chance to ask Jenny to recommend a before-dinner libation, she whispered “you want the watermelon sparkler”, as she attended to the party of twelve seated next to us.  With refreshing cocktails in hand, Jesse and I sat back to take in the view and revel in our good fortune.  Salty air and a perfectly temperate climate added to the incredible ambiance.  Too bad Chef Pellegrino is rarely there on weekend nights. It didn’t matter.  We were smitten with the way the evening was unfolding when, suddenly, the master himself stopped at our table to say hello.  Turns out his restaurant manager couldn’t be there so Jerry himself stepped in to fill the Saturday evening post.  I took great delight in telling Mr. Pellegrino that just the previous weekend I had made his summer crab and cantaloupe salad with its accompanying cantaloupe martini.  Both were oh, so good -- perfect for a sweltering summer’s eve.  The chef seemed quite pleased.

I made a crabmeat and canteloupe
salad and canteloupe martini last
weekend, both creations of
Jerry Pellegrino
After sharing a grilled peach appetizer and a salad of local cresses dressed with port wine vinaigrette, Jesse tucked into Chesapeake Bay rockfish while I enjoyed filet mignon.  We sipped a lovely red blend recommended by Jenny and endorsed by the chef as sailboats drifted silently across the ebbing tide, a reflection of Baltimore’s iconic Domino Sugars sign dancing on the ruffled water from across the harbor.

The sweeping harbor view
from our table
was breathtaking
Once our appetites were sated we took our time with dessert, a strawberry shortcake for Jesse and a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis for me.  Again, Chef Pellegrino appeared at our table, this time with two aperitif glasses and a bottle.  He told us that Jenny thought we might like to enjoy a glass of 25-year-old sherry with our pastries.  And how.  

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