Monkey Turds, Meat & Whole Fish (not necessarily in that order)

Monkey turds aside, there is nothing like having out-of-town guests to make you fall even more in love with your home city. We played tour guide and tourist all weekend as we whisked around my visiting mother-in-law and her boyfriend in an attempt to charm her with Charm City.

So was she charmed? Hell if I know. But I certainly was.


The weekend kicked off at Jack’s Bistro on Friday night for dinner and half-priced bottles of wine. Whoo hoo! The conversation went something like this:

Mother-in-law (MIL) “So, what do you recommend here?”

Me: “The Guinness-braised steak is probably the best steak I have ever had in my life.”

My Husband (MH): “Get the steak. It’s amazing. We come here for the steak.” (My dear husband has actually said he prefers this steak at Jack’s to the traditional bistecca Florentine we wolfed down in Italy — whhaaatttt????)

MIL: “Hmmm, maybe I’ll get the mussels or the duck. I wonder if they are any good? I wonder how they are prepared?”

MH: “Get the steak mom. It’s seriously good.”

Me: “I crave this steak once a week. We like to come here on Sundays for steak night. This steak is out of this world.”

MIL’s boyfriend: “Sold. I am getting the steak.”

MIL: “Hmmm. I wonder what I should get. Is there anything else you recommend?”

Me: “It’s hard to go wrong here, but it’s also hard for us to come and NOT order the steak. It is truly THAT GOOD.”

We went round and round like this for awhile. Ultimately, the three of us ordered the steak and swooned at the first bite. She, on the other hand, ordered the duck and then proceeded to frown at the poor waterfowl all evening. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the duck, she said, it was just that after sampling the steak, she just couldn’t believe how utterly delicious it was. It was by far “the best steak” she had ever tried. She wished she had ordered the steak. HELLO?

Moving on …


Saturday afternoon we ventured down to Lexington Market  to try what are supposed to be Baltimore’s most famous crab cakes at Faidleys Seafood Market (something that has been on my Charm City To-Do list for the entire 8 years we have lived here). Once again, we had my mother-in-law and her boyfriend in tow.

If you have never been to Lexington Market, please go. It is truly a slice of old school Baltimore and is jam-packed with family owned stalls selling everything from fried chicken parts and huge vats of fruit salad to raw oysters, whole fresh fish, deep-fried turkey necks and every type of baked good imaginable. Not to mention the numerous stalls of prepared foods such as sushi, gyros and, of course, crab cakes.

But I digress. We made our way to Faidleys and briefly contemplated the very short menu as we stood in line to place our orders. They offered 3 types of crab cakes: a basic cake at 4 bucks a pop, some sort of back-fin cake at around $8 or so and their “award-winning” jumbo lump at $13. It took us 8 years to get to Faidleys, my husband and I were each getting a jumbo lump. My mother-in-law’s boyfriend was getting the jumbo lump. What did my MIL choose? The $4 version. Of course she did.

The three of us tucked into these gorgeous cakes packed full of rich, delicate crab meat. My MIL, once again, frowned at her food. Four bucks bought her what looked exactly like a constipated monkey turd — small, round, crusty and hard.

“Get the jumbo,” we all said. “It’s on us. You will likely never be back again.”

Nope, she went with the monkey turd. One look at her crusty brown ball and that familiar sour, dour look on her face rapidly returned. Lucky for her, her boyfriend grudgingly gave her a few forkfuls of the good stuff as she certainly wasn’t getting anywhere near our plates without sustaining a plastic fork injury. So please, if you wish to try a Faidleys cake, trust me, spring for the famous version. You won’t be disappointed.


After the crab cake adventure we picked up whole fresh red snapper to bring home for dinner. I stuffed each fish with fresh herbs and lemon slices, rubbed them down with olive oil and salt and my husband grilled them to perfection. Delicious! All in all, it was a fabulous weekend in Charm City, monkey turd incident included.

Whole Red Snapper

Whole Red Snapper


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