I would classify my Halloweekend as very successful. The cheese ball was a success (of course), as was the pumpkin beer tasting party, though I can only claim any credit for the former. As you can see, we had a number of beers to taste, with pretty mixed results. The beer featured in the photo was my contribution, Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat, which I described as not pumpkin-y with a clove aftertaste. This was a problem common to may beers – smelled more like pumpkin pie than tasting of pumpkin. In fact, at one point we accused the hosts of spiking Natty Boh with pumpkin pie spice. I believe the winner overall was the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, which I described has having a nice, spicy aroma and a rich finish. The loser(s) were Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, which to me tasted muddy and sour, and Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, which I sexistly described as “buttertaste” (“looks good, buttertaste”). I also scored the recipe for spicy chicken chili that I’m excited to try now that it’s soup weather.
Despite the threatening weather on Saturday, it actually cleared up to be quite a crisp fall weekend. Monday T and I managed to get out of the sauna of my apartment and enjoy some fall views of Baltimore at Druid Hill Park for a walk around the reservoir. I forgot my binoculars, but we saw some Greater Black-backed Gulls – they’re huge, and one of only a dozen or so birds I can identify without a book or my dad nearby.
I find Baltimore to be an especially interesting city for the crowded list of smashed-together neighborhoods. While many cities follow a predicable pattern of “nice” versus marginal neighborhoods, in Baltimore many of these neighborhoods practically co-exist, separated by little more than a street. In the Druid Hill Park area, along Druid Park Lake Drive, there are a few blocks of gutted rowhouses with only their facades remaining, sharing view of the park with luxury condo/high-rise apartment complexes. Many areas of Baltimore seem to be gentrifying, including Brewer’s Hill, Fells’ Point, and Federal Hill, with the latter probably the most gentrified of the bunch. But gentrification in Baltimore seems to be spotty rather than creeping, with renovated rowhouses sharing streets with abandoned ones, upscale dining opportunities adjacent to the ubiquitous “Fried Chicken Lake Trout” carry-outs, and other such commingling. I suspect this contributes (well, this and The Wire, or Homicide if you’re over a certain age) to the mixed reputation Baltimore has in the wider world. It’s hard to know what to say about a city with both high crime rates and Johns Hopkins University.