Coffee With a Friend.

It’s a rare day I don’t get out to have a cup of coffee at one of my favorite shops. Though I have plenty at my house, I love the ritual of ordering a warm cup of happiness from a friendly face who knows exactly what I want.

1117180901_hdrMy go-to place is Zeke’s [https://www.zekescoffee.com].  I order a large, dark roast coffee with peppermint and white chocolate, one shot each. Mindy knows this. She’s worked at Zeke’s forever and recently won Baltimore’s Best Server in The Baltimore Sun’s Best of 2019. I look forward to seeing her as much as I do having my coffee.

When I walk into Zeke’s or Red Canoe 0206191250[https://www.redcanoecafeandchildrensbookstore.com] I feel a bit like Norm on the show Cheers; everyone knows my name. It’s an experience of all the senses. Mostly  it’s the warmth and comfort of the familiar and being with people who have become friends.

This past week I had the opportunity to share some of my beloved coffee spots with my work-mate and friend, Robert Hoffman [http://www.rahthebird.com]. We met at the gallery where we work, MAXgallery [https://www.maxgallery.us] in Butchers Hill. Our mission was to deliver flyers for the upcoming May show, Diverse Fibers.

0425191326_HDRRobert and I had a great day … and yes, it actually took all day to deliver four hundred flyers to local shops and galleries … so we treated ourselves and had a coffee in nearly every coffeehouse we visited. Can you say caffeine high?

It’s wonderful to share coffee with a friend, and, in my opinion, it’s just as important as meditation. We all need to get out of our routine, find a friend, and choose a special spot. Whether it’s a bookstore, coffeehouse or the park, it’s so important to connect with friends, relax, and just enjoy the moment in which you are living. And coffee, it’s always important to enjoy your coffee! 0425191326

Common Ground

Here’s something we could all use more of these days…coffee! Coffee and Common Ground.  If you’re looking for both, you can find them in Hampden.

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In a row house among the cool little shops, restaurants and galleries sits a great coffee spot.  Common Ground Cafe &Coffee is an unassuming spot. The casual atmosphere and friendly servers makes this an ideal place to relax or to get a few pages written. Their iced vanilla latte is delicious and my go-to drink when I visit. They even sell Zeke’s coffee. It’s like heaven!

 

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The cafe is open every day from 7AM until 5PM.  In addition to coffee drinks, they also serve sandwiches, muffins and smoothies. There is seating outside which is a great place to people-watch and decide what shop to visit next.

For more information go to http://www.commongroundhampden.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Ground & Griddled

 

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If you have not yet found your way to R House in Remington, do so this week. Several food venues can be found here, but none as wonderful as Ground & Griddled. My first visit certainly won’t be my last.  I ordered a macchiato that was perfect. The place has a nice vibe and I found a comfy spot on a couch where I could enjoy my drink and people watch.0130191224_hdr

Ground & Griddled has a selection of sammies including one called What The Kitchen Eats which I’ll need to sample on my next visit. They also serve brunch on the weekends.  The service was quick and the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. This is a great spot to stop in with friends, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to do any work here. Though there are places where you could use your laptop, it’s busy and not ideal if you need quiet to concentrate.

The Ground &Griddled is located at R. House 301 W. 29th St. http://www.gandgbmore.com

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Next Monday we’ll visit a coffee shop in Sparks.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Coffee Blog.

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In February, amidst the cold and snow, I began a month-long blog about the thing I love most…coffee. I was having a blast visiting both new places and old favorite spots. Everything was going well until I got sick, and I mean really sick, the kind that involves hospitals and testing. Could I be allergic to coffee? Was it too much caffeine?

After weeks of sickness and doctors and all sorts of scans, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Thank goodness this doesn’t interfere with my coffee habit, but it does interfere with just about everything else…even what shampoo I use!

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that involves your small intestine. It’s different from being allergic to wheat in your diet. Now I must only use products that are gluten-free including  make-up and tooth paste in addition to eating gluten-free. It’s changed how I do almost everything, but  for the better. I feel and look healthier than I have in years. 0411191408

I still intend to tell you about all the wonderful coffee shops in Baltimore and the surrounding counties. Check in here on Monday morning to start your week off right. The first cup of coffee is the most important!

Where Family and Friends Gather

 

1026181022I read and fantasize often about the cafes of Paris. I can picture myself sitting at an outdoor table sipping a cafe au lait and reading a book. Though that sounds exciting – and maybe one of my future goals – I can’t imagine any cafe as welcoming or relaxing as Red Canoe. 0814180930

Red Canoe was originally a children’s bookstore and coffee house. I’ve been coming here since the first day they opened when my children were not much older than toddlers. It was here my children attended the homework club, learned chess moves and spent their Saturdays with friends playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Now the coffee shop mainly focuses on their expanded cafe which serves breakfast, lunch and – on First Fridays of the month – dinner.They still have a small selection of children’s books for sale which is curated by Josie Rhodes, who along with Tina Perry, owns this delightful shop.  0206191250

I come often for lunch – the Bovie Wrap is my favorite – and to get some quiet time to read and write. One of their most popular items are the muffins. They are truly spectacular. The muffins come in a wide assortment and the offering changes seasonally. There are both sweet and savory choices and some of them are gluten free or vegan. The Black Bottom muffin is sinfully delicious and the Spinach muffin is an entire meal. Everything is prepared and served by Matt and Christie who are always friendly and helpful. I see them so often, they are like family to me.0206191206_HDR

I may never get to Paris, but there’s no reason to miss out on Red Canoe.

https://www.redcanoecafeandchildrensbookstore.com

Coffee Haven

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Comfort and coffee can be found in Melody a lovely little coffee shop in Mount Vernon. Located a block or so from the Washington Monument, Melody is as sweet as its name. I am delighted to have stumbled upon this quaint coffee house.0126191010

I ordered a Colombian Cappuccino which was made with 1850 Thread coffee espresso and Nela raw unprocessed panela. The  staff was kind and friendly and took the time to explain to me about panela, which was something  that was new to me. Panela is whole cane sugar which is handcrafted by boiling and evaporating sugarcane juice. I’m probably not explaining it exactly right, but I can tell 0126191019_hdryou it was the best cappuccino I’ve ever had.

Melody Cafe showcases local artist and serves cocktails as well as coffee. It’s like my dream come true! The cafe has a happy hour from 5-7PM on weeknights. I’ll have to top in one evening for that. 0126191006

Melody Cafe has been a great start to the week and I hope your Monday has been just as good!

Melody Cafe: 800 St. Paul Street

https://www.themelodycafe.com

Music To My Ears

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Baby’s on Fire is more than just a glam-rock song, it’s a coffee shop tucked away on a small street in Mount Vernon.  I’d heard a few of my friends talk about this shop, but had never had the opportunity to stop in before today. I’m so happy I finally took the time to visit. There is no other place in Baltimore [or maybe anywhere!] like this sensational cafe.0126191054a

I settled in at a cozy table near the listening station with my cafe au lait.  There was a steady stream of customers for the hour I was there. After I finished my coffee I wandered around checking out all the record albums that are sold in the shop. They carry quite a large selection of vinyl that ranges from jazz to punk.

0126191059aThe staff was friendly and happy to answer any questions. I can hardly wait to visit again!0126191053

What music are you enjoying along with your coffee this Sunday morning?

Baby’s on Fire: 1010 Morton St.

https://www.babysonfire.com

Books and Coffee

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What are two of my favorite things? Books and coffee, of course! I discovered both at a wonderful little spot near Johns Hopkins University. Bird in Hand, located in Baltimore’s trendy Charles Village, is a coffee shop that collaborates with The Ivy Bookshop of Mt. Washington. The coffee shop opened it’s door in 2016 and continues to be a welcoming spot for students and locals.0126190925_hdr

This was my first visit to the shop and definitely will not be my last. I enjoyed a latte flavored with honey. It was delicious. The place is quiet and laid back with both individual seating and communal tables.

There were a wide assortment of books for sale along with a small selection of notepads and writing paraphernalia. The menu also was very tempting, but I only had a latte on this visit. Next time I’ll have a snack, too. 0126190928

I’m also interested in returning for their next event which is this month. The featured artist is Sheri Booker who will read from her book One Woman, One Hustle. The program is free and will be held on February 5, 2019 at 7PM.

Hope you are all enjoying a good cup of coffee today, too!

Bird in Hand: 11 E. 33rd. St.

https://birdinhandcharlesvillage.com

For the Love of Joe

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February is the month of love. It’s a time a time we honor what we hold close to our hearts. And what do I love? Coffee! This month, for the next 28 days, I’m going to take you on a tour of all the best coffee shops in my beloved Baltimore.

Today I’m going to begin with  Zeke’s, my neighborhood coffee shop. Zeke’s is owned by Thomas Rhodes who sold his first pound of coffee at the Baltimore’s Farmers’ Market in 2005. The coffee shop in Lauraville opened the following year. This is where I was first introduced to Hippie Blend and now I’m a forever fan.1020180852a

The new space, which is a few blocks from the original shop on Harford Rd., opened in the fall of 2017. You can find me here on Saturday mornings having breakfast before I head out to the Waverly Market. Every weekend the shop offers specials, my favorite being chicken and waffles. During the week you can get breakfast and lunch sandwiches or soup of the day. There’s also a selection of cakes, cookies and pastries.

img_7322Then there’s the coffee. I have yet to have a blend I haven’t liked. This month I’m partial to Snow Day Blend. Last month I was hooked on Festivus. I am slowly making my way through all of them, I want to try them all!

There are so many reasons to love Zeke’s, the welcoming atmosphere of the shop, the friendly and helpful staff, the great food, but mostly the excellent coffee. Stop in and enjoy a cup!img_7323

Zeke’s Coffee: 4719 Harford Rd.

https://www.zekescoffee.com

 

 

Snowy Day Stew

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There’s nothing more comforting than a hot meal when the snow is falling and the temperature drops to nineteen degrees. It’s on those days I like to cook a stew for my family’s dinner. Mostly I make beef stew with beef cubes I’ve purchased from the Waverly Market, but vegetable or chicken stew is just a tasty. 0129191735a

It was my mom who taught me how to make a good stew. Mom had three dishes she excelled at: beef stew, chipped beef gravy and meatloaf. Then she gave up eating all meat and became a vegetarian. Tofu stew just isn’t the same!

Preparing a stew is fairly quick and easy and taste better the longer you let it simmer. I start mine by sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil. I then coat my beef cubes with a mixture of whole wheat flour, black pepper and sea salt. I add the cubes to the pan until they are lightly brown on each side. I then add organic bone broth [beef] and let it come to a boil. The potatoes and carrots cook better if they are cut into small bite-sized pieces. Put them in the pot when the stock comes to a rapid boil. Place the lid on the pot, turn down the heat to low and let simmer for at least thirty to forty minutes. I usually cook my stew for at least an hour. 0129191735

A baguette or loaf of whole grain bread goes well with stew to sop up the broth. You don’t even need butter!

Stay warm and enjoy the company of your family. Beginning on February 1st join me for a tour of Baltimore coffee shops as we explore 28 coffee shops in 28 days!