New to Baltimore: where to get organic produce, etc
I am moving to the Mount Washington area in Baltimore in a couple of weeks. I have been living in Houston. I am looking for advice on shopping for groceries. I cook nearly all my meals, and tend to eat whole foods and as much organic as I can afford (generally, I buy organic unless it's crazy crazy expensive or I know the conventional isn't terrible). Good food is one of my passions. I don't mind being somewhat inconvenienced or taking a bit more time to go to the good places. But I am on a limited budget so I would like to only buy from e.g., Whole Foods when I have to.
In Houston, I would usually hit up the farmer's market first. Second, the Fiesta stores there (basically a local chain catering to immigrants from around the world), which had hands-down the cheapest organics you could find, though it was just a tiny section. Lastly, I would go to the Central Market (a store that's probably closer to a Wegmans than a Whole Foods, I would say) as a last resort.
Fish I bought at a place called "airline seafood" that restaurants would buy from (but was also open to the public). You couldn't always go in and find what you wanted, but prices were good.
I also lived for a while in Northern Cali and I fell in love with a really awesome European-style grocery store that often had amazingly good deals (and only sold what was in season... loved that).
Are there any equivalents to what I'm describing above? Or just any awesome place you can recommend for quality ingredients?
In season, the farmers markets would be your best bet. I prefer the downtown Sunday market which has two reasonably priced organic stalls. One Straw Farm at the Saturday Waverly Market has beautiful produce but can be pricey.
There are definitely some great farmers markets, as jfish said. The big ones are the Saturday Waverly market and the Sunday market downtown under the highway. They are both great but get very crowded, so if you're not there by 9 or so, expect lines and big crowds. I have been going to the farmers market at Kenilworth mall this season. It is much smaller but has tons of produce. Not a lot of meat, unfortunately. There are quite a few other smaller markets in the area, so it may be worth checking a few out based on what is convenient for you. Check out http://www.mda.state.md.us/md_product... for a list of all the markets in the area and their locations.
In terms of stores, there is a local organic chain called Mom's Organic Market, with stores in Timonium and Jessup. They have a lot of the same stuff as Whole Foods (minus the prepared foods and seafood) but are less expensive. My new favorite store is Green Onion in Hamilton. They have local meats and a small produce selection, plus some local dairy. Seafood is the one area where I don't have a great recommendation. There is a place called Franks down in Jessup that may be similar to Airline Seafood, but it is too much of a hike for me during the week. I go to Wegmans when I need seafood, but I do often find myself wishing I knew of a good fishmonger in north Baltimore.
There is also Belvedere Square just off York Rd and Northern Parkway. There is a bakery, Italian grocer, produce stand, as well as some great prepared foods there. It's not a place where you could do a full shop, but it is great for grabbing the ingredients for a meal or two.
I hope this at least gives you some ideas to start with. Welcome to Baltimore!
Let's see, from another cooks a lot, ex-Texan, here's some more.
There's a farmer's market at Whole Foods on Wednesdays, another at Cross Keys nearby (can't remember day), the Waverly Market on Saturday (our preferred fave) and the the JFX market on Sundays. Fell's Point also has one on Saturdays, which is nice to sometimes combine with morning coffee on the harbor. There's also a produce pickup from a local farm on Ruxton Road and 83 most weekends. Wegman's is probably closest to Central Market though you'll be disappointed by the comparison (as an ex-Austinite I was). They have been pushing their organics lately. Belvedere Square has one expensive produce place, but the Italian deli (Ceriello') has the best meat you'll find around, and the Waverly and JFX markets have a couple of pricey meat vendors. MOM's is okay, but the selection is small. I have yet to find a good hispanic market like Fiesta (I miss them), but Tortilleria Sinola will feed your fresh tortilla cravings and the Markets at Highlandtown will do in a pinch for other supplies. Good Greek imports at Prima Foods, and there are several good Italian delis in town -- Di Pasquale's and Trinacria in particular. Oh, and there's another decent sized farm stand at Falls and Shawan Rd. In fact if you go out and explore north and west you'll find several farms that sell direct.
I could go on, but most of these have been mentioned elsewhere on the board already.
I also wish I could find a good fishmonger in the north (preferably ne) area!
I second Green Onion & notice their produce selection varies in size and quality day to day. I am currently loving the purple potatoes.... I think they would have more if they were busier - so please check them out!
Is there a post in the Baltimore threads about seafood where someone doesn't drop a hint about Faidley's? I wouldn't call it near Mt. Washington, unless you're looking for 20-30 minute drive and then a search for parking. The type of place she mentions is quite similar to what you'll find in the distributors down in Jessup. It smells and looks alot better than Lexington Market too.
There's a parking lot and a garage right next door. That's hardly a "search for parking." I agree that it's not really convenient to Mt. Washington, but nothing really is except Whole Foods.
Faidley's is certainly a place someone moving to Baltimore needs to go, although the market in general has lost some worthy places (Pollock Johnny's). But it's been there (not in the same structure) since 1782, and it's definitely a local institution, no matter how distasteful the suburbanites find it.
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In addition to the other comments...
There is also a Farmer's Market in Towon on Tuesday at Kenilworth Mall (in the evening so you can go there after work) and on Thursday on the main drag.
Fish on the northern side of town: Lately, I've been going to Conrad's on Joppa. They have had local stand bys (rockfish/striped bass, soft shell crab, etc) mixed in with some odds and ends (eel, octopus, smelts). everythign has been fresh and delicious.