Monday, December 31, 2007

Exit 21: MD-129 (Park Heights Ave., to Stevenson Road)

New Year's Eve Edition!

Park Heights Avenue is the yin to Reisterstown Road's yang. I say that because of two factors: the traffic and the number of businesses. Reisterstown Road is congested, crowded and capitalistic, with businesses galore. Park Heights Avenue, however, is about as desolate and suburban as you could want, and the driving reflects this. Not only that, but if you take one wrong turn on Reisterstown Road it's fairly easy to get back to it. It'll take half an hour due to the sheer amount of traffic, but it's still a straight shot. Park Heights Avenue, on the other hand, is a migraine-inducing labyrinth of houses. Make one wrong turn and you'll spend half an hour trying to find your way back. Well, at least you won't have to contend with much traffic.

As I said, the only business I could find on Park Heights Avenue is - okay, I couldn't find a business, especially not going away from the city. Into the city it's not much better. You have to drive way into the city, which is farther than I felt like driving. So I took Park Heights Ave to Stevenson Road, like the sign said. And if you keep on going it will loop around Druid Ridge Cemetery and eventually take you back to Reisterstown Road (like I said, it's difficult to get away from it). En route you have to pass by Dumbarton Square, which is your only real bet for food before hitting Reisterstown Road. I am factoring in the fact that, as long as you drive around the parking lot enough you will make it to the Noodles & Company, the Giant and the Salsa Rita's, chains all. Since I am obsessed with finding non-chains and local chains, I avoided these places and went for the first place in the complex I could get to - Gourmet Again.

The place is one of those fancy, upscale markets, with small $10 bottles of dipping oils and a few different kinds of caviar. It's a great place to shop once in a while. Probably lots of people in the area can afford to shop there often. I cannot. I would quickly go broke if I shopped here on a regular basis. An overview of the great stuff they have:

  • a small but upscale bakery section, with chocolate tops, regular and sugar-free mondel bread, rugelach, and dozens of other things to choose from;
  • a larger, busy and - again - upscale sandwich counter. Their egg salad is the cheapest thing. It was $4. I must mention it was busy, but that might be due to lots of people ordering lunchmeat and things for their various NYE parties;
  • modest salad and antipasto bars - I have never seen an antipasto bar. I got about a pound of it at $7.69/lb, mostly olives, roasted red and yellow bell peppers, and grilled squash;
  • large counters of seafood, prepared foods and meat. I saw one thing in the prepped food counter, shrimp stuffed with imperial crab, for about $4 each. I bought one. It was all crab - I mean all crab;
  • a lovely catering office - maybe this is where the guy in front of me in line got most of the $330 worth of food he bought (the little old woman behind me, who honest to God smelled exactly like the Museum of Natural History in DC, told me, "I think I'd rather eat at his place!" Funny!);
  • a large selection of products by Food Network personalities, particularly Paula Deen. I also got an eyeful of Bubbie Jeanne's
There were only one or two problems I had with Gourmet Again. For one, not all prices are clearly displayed - it took me forever to find someone that could help me find the price of the antipasto bar (that's only because everybody was busy). A bit more irritating was the willingness of most people to just run you down just as soon as say "Excuse me." Honestly, it's like driving in New York City!

So I got out with a pound of antipasti and one crab-stuffed shrimp, ready to meet my family for the New Year's Eve dinner we were supposed to have had for Christmas. You see, my sister and I were planning to make dinner for the family, and we were both too ill to do it. It wasn't going to be very big anyway - just a braciole (she's making that) and some broccolini with toasted pine nuts (I'm making that). So to counterbalance the big-ass Thanksgiving dinner we had this year, we passed up even the modest braciole for a piece of leftover ham and a spoonful of leftover potato salad. The braciole, or braciola recipe is Giada de Laurentiis', and it's here.

Places I visited:

Gourmet Again (grocery store - gourmet) - 3713 Old Court Road, Pikesville, Maryland 21208; Phone: (410) 484-9393

  • Would I shop there again? Yeah, I just don't know if I can afford to.
  • Would I go out of my way to shop there again? Yeah, though again, money is a factor
Other photos:

The antipasto bar at Gourmet Again

One of those lovely crab-covered shrimps went home with me. I ravished him.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year! I am such a sucker for over priced food bars. It is like they hypnotize me and there goes $40.

John said...

Same here! That's why I can't go into places like this. Whole Foods was a big part of my expenditures until I cut back. It's just not safe!