Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Before the Ban Part 3 - Pre-Prohibition Baltimore Breweries - The Odenwald & Joh/Sommerfeld/Lion Brewery

Now long forgotten to history, Baltimore was once a major brewing city with over 45 breweries operating at one time. In this series, I hope to bring to life this long lost history.

Bird's Eye View of Odenwald & Joh's Lager Beer Brewery 1869

The Philip Odenwald & Ferdinand Joh brewery opened in 1862 on what is today South Calverton Street, and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest surviving brewery in Baltimore. Odenwald, who was born in Germany, operated a tavern prior to opening the brewery. Joh, also from Germany, worked as a bartender prior to opening the brewery.

 Odenwald & Joh's Lager Beer Brewery 1869

It was sold in 1872 after death of Odenwald, the brewery continued under the ownership of Odenwald's widow, Mrs Julia Odenwald, and John Sommerfeld, Odenwald's brother-in-law, bought out Joh's interest in the brewery and from 1873 to 1875 it operated as the Sommerfeld & Company Brewery. Sommerfeld was born in 1831 in Freienhagen, Prussia. By this time there was on the site a restaurant or saloon, three dwelling houses, an office, stables, ice house,  etc. along with 650 fermenting tubs, three double team wagons, and one single team wagon.

1887 Advertisement

From 1875 to 1880 it operated as the John Sommerfeld Brewery. In 1878 the brewery sold 6,063 barrels of beer and in 1879 it sold 5,193 barrels of beer.

In 1881 the brewery was sold due to insolvency. At this time it consisted of 19 fermenting tubs, 4 beer wagons, and 2 beer cooler. From 1880 to 1891 the brewery operated as the Sommerfeld Brewing Company. In 1895 Sommerfeld was unable to pay the mortgage interest and sold the brewery to the Lion Brewing Company, headed by J. Harry Biemiller. At the time of the 1895 sale the brewery consisted of a three story brick and stone brewery, a three story fermenting house, a three-story washhouse, a two-story ice machine house, two brick stables, an office building and outbuildings, two three-story brick dwellings and a two-story brick dwelling. The brewery was furnished with a refrigerating machine, artesian well, fifteen fermenting tubs, twenty-one beer vats, two copper kettles, one large and one small boiler, an iron mash tub, a fetching machine, four double team and two single team beer delivery wagons, two collectors jagger wagons, and had a 35,000 barrel capacity.

1898 Advertisement

In 1901 was bought by the Maryland Brewing Company. This company went into receivership shortly after the purchase and all the breweries in Baltimore which were part of the Maryland Brewing Company were bought by the Gottleib-Bauernschmidt-Strauss Brewing Company.

1902 Advertisement

It was one of the least productive breweries of this company and was closed in 1904. The site was later occupied by Samuel Dell Company, brush makers, and Lenmar Lacquers, a paint company.

Some of the brewery survives today. These parts include the former office, the ice machine/condensing building, the boiler house, the wash house/cooler (only the exterior walls survive), the storage building (only the exterior walls survive), two 2-1/2 story brick dwellings (one with an altered roof to two stories and the other gutted by fire), a three story brick dwelling, and the original 1862 brewery building coolers malt house.

J. Sommerfeld Brewery 1890
150 South Calverton Road

Lion Brewery (formerly J. Sommerfeld Brewery) 1901
150 South Calverton Road

 Site of the Lion Brewery (formerly J. Sommerfeld Brewery) 1914
150 South Calverton Road

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Quality food on the go in London (and now in America too)... Pret A Manger

Americans can sometimes be easily drawn to the comfortable surroundings of chain stores, especially for food when traveling domestically. Fast food restaurants naturally fill this niche, despite the nature of their food. But there are other options.

In London, you can find a reasonably prices delicious "fast food" option, Pret A Manger. I really hate to call it fast food, as it is not like typical American fast food, but it is quick, delicious and reasonably priced. On my recent visit to the UK, I had the good fortune to be introduced to Pret and enjoy its yummy food several times.

I will caveat this blog in stating I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so I did not evaluate their coffee, but I do love a good sandwich, so that is what I will focus upon in this blog post. 

 Sausage and Egg Brioche

Twice I had a chance to eat breakfast at Pret, and both times I chose the same sandwich, because firstly I'm a creature of habit and secondly, it was very yummy. For my breakfast I chose the Sausage and Egg Brioche, which is an English breakfast sausage, sliced down the middle and grilled in the oven before being wrapped in a freshly cooked omelette. Served in a deliciously light buttery brioche with a dab of unmistakably French butter. The American Pret also has a Sausage and Egg Brioche and this version is a breakfast sausage (antibiotic-free), Wisconsin cheddar and their signature cage-free egg soufflĂ©, on a buttery artisan brioche roll. I'm not sure if the American version will tickle my fancy, but the British version is a solid choice and I honestly hope the American Pret adopts this tasty British sandwich as well in the States.

I had a chance to try three different sandwiches at Pret during my stay in London. Each was delicious in its own right and only personal preference would be reason to choose one over another. The first sandwich I tried was the Ham, Cheese & Mustard Toastie, listed among their hot food offerings. Made with seeded bloomer bread, Wiltshire-Cured Ham, Croxton Manor Matured Cheddar Cheese, English Mustard Mayo and seasoning. This is then grilled. Quite a nice sandwich on a chilly day. The American version is the Smoked Ham Mac & Cheese Melt, which consists of Niman Ranch smoked ham (antibiotic-free), Pret's mac & cheese, fontina, cheddar and a sprinkling of Pret's seasoning sandwiched between 2 slices of sourdough bread, which is then grilled. Based on description alone, I lean towards the British version, but then again, I do have anglophile leanings.

My second Pret sandwich was the Ham and Cheese Sandwich, a simple and delicious combination of Pret's Wiltshire-cured ham and sliced mature Cheddar which is served in their soft granary bread with a dab of unsalted French butter. The American version of this sandwich is the Smoked Ham & Chedar, made with sliced Niman Ranch applewood smoked ham (antibiotic-free) with sliced cheddar and a touch of whole grain mustard mayo, on our 9-grain granary bread. Again, I've not had the American version, but I would find it hard to beat the British version and how can one improve upon mature Cheddar. (If you have not tried mature Cheddar, once you do, it will ruin you for typical American Cheddar forever.

Pret's Christmas Lunch

The third and final sandwich I tried was Pret's Christmas Lunch, which consists of thick slices of Norfolk free-range turkey breast on malted bread with a dollop of slightly tart port & orange cranberry sauce. It is served with Pret's herby stuffing ,made with beautifully seasoned minced pork, streaky bacon and apricots. Finally the the sandwich is topped with crispy onions and fresh baby spinach. The current American version is Pret's Thanksgiving Lunch, which consists of all of your favorite Thanksgiving Day flavors in one hearty and delicious sandwich, roasted turkey breast (antibiotic-free), fresh spinach, crispy onions, pork and apricot stuffing, tangy cranberry sauce and cage-free mayo on 9-grain bread. Again, I have not had the American version, and which they are close in description, my mouth still waters at the thought of the British versions I enjoyed in London.

But regardless of your preferences, Pret offers a quick and affordable, delicious meal in London. Not to be missed and found throughout Central London, and also at Heathrow Terminal 5 for international departures.

For more information visit Pret A Manger at their British website http://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb or at their American website https://www.pret.com/en-us.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

More Than Just Tweed... Cordings of Picadilly

In a previous blog post I spoke of Cordings of Picadilly and their wonderful tweeds. Founded in 1839, J.C. Cording & Company began business as an outfitter and waterproofer. By the 1920s and 30s, Cordings established five core items which they are still known for to this day, the covert coat, Mackintosh, tweed jackets, corduroy and Moleskin trousers, and Tattersall shirts.

In 2003, after weathering the Second World War, the post war years, the rejection of tradition, and the years of outsourcing production from the UK by man businesses, the current management team approached their best customer, Eric Clapton, and asked if he would assist them in a management buyout. “I first became aware of Cordings in my mid-teens,” Clapton explains. “I come from the country and it was the highlight of our week to come up to London and listen to the musicians. It was difficult to get home late, so I would spend that time till dawn just walking the West End. I remembered Cordings. It stuck in my mind as a place of tradition; the heritage of England.”

After my first visit to Cordings, I began to place orders with them online with extreme satisfation. I already knew my sizes with Cordings so I'd not have to worry about returns. They do offer no quibble returns and the speed of the shipments to the States from the UK was within a weeks time.

One of the items I received from Cordings was a pair of their corduroy trousers. I eagerly awaited the cooler weather of the Autumn season so that I could enjoy them at long last. Long having grown up with a fixation on the sedate navy blue or brown shades for corduroy trousers, I was excited to enjoy something a bit more adventurous, I this case a pair of their 17oz sage green 8 wale corduroy.

Made of 100% cotton, they feature a plain waist band with tunnel top side adjusters, a flat front and button fly. There is one back jetted pocket with a button fastening, a hook and bar, plus button, fastening on the waist band, and has a fully lined waist band in 100% cotton. 

I ordered mine unfinished so that I could have my local tailor finish them with turn ups.

Cordings Sage Green Corduroy Trousers, paired with their House Check Tweed Jacket and Navy Blue Slipover

I find corduroy trousers the perfect trouser for the weekend and they work well with or without a jacket. These corduroys are warm and comfortable without measure. And while Cordings offers the sedate shades of navy blue and brown, they offer 14 colors in a full spectrum of the rainbow, for the conservative to the adventurous.

As with my tweed trousers from Cordings, these corduroys measure 2 inches larger than my American trousers.

If I wear these half as much as I've already worn their House Check Tweed Jacket, these trousers will be getting plenty of service this Autumn and Winter, and that is something to which I very much look forward. And I am quite certain that other colours of these corduroys will be added to my wardrobe over the years.

Please note that Cordings website prices includes VAT of 20% so this is removed from your order before payment is made. For those buying in London, they will provide you with the paperwork needed to recover your VAT payment at the airport when you are leaving the UK.

You can find Cordings online here at www.cordings.co.uk.

I eagerly look forward to my next visit to Cording of Piccadilly and will be sure to always leave space in my luggage for new acquisitions I am positive I will be making! Until then I remain quite the regular customer on their website.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Search of Your Favourite Tipple....  Berry Brothers and Rudd

Wandering around St. James in London, you can come across some of the oldest businesses in London. Established in 1698, and still trading on the same premises, is Berry Brothers & Rudd, one of the oldest wine and spirits merchants in the UK. Most American's are probably unfamiliar with the firm, except perhaps though Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky which was created for Berry Brothers & Rudd in 1923. This brand was sold in 2010 and is no longer connected with the wine & spirit merchant. Another of their specialties, King's Ginger, is now available in the States. Created in 1903 for King Edward VII, this is an amazing ginger cordial worthy of consideration for anyone who enjoys its wonderful spice.

Inside their ancient home, are two rooms set up for wine and spirits sales, as well as a large set of ancient scales, the front room dedicated to wine and the rear room dedicated to spirits. Featuring a staff quite familiar with their offerings, any selection here is one worth trying. Knowing my personal tastes, I went to the spirits room and browsed their amazing offerings, many of which are not available in the States. While an American might find their bourbon and rye offerings a bit thin compared to home, as is to be expected, you will be captivated by the selection of rums and Scotch whiskies.

I must say given how close America is to the rum producing region, we have ignored the great variety of regional rum which Berry Brothers & Rudd has on display. Unfortunately I could not bring back every bottle in the shop I wish I could have, both for customs and weight reasons. Forced to be selective I bought one bottle of Grant's Morella Cherry Brandy  and after sampling a few of their own Scotch whiskies, I picked the 1995 Berry's Glen Elgin Cask No 3187, Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Well worth the purchase and based on recent taste testing, superior to the Glen Morangie 18 year old, which was until this time, my favourite.

So if you are looking for a special bottle to bring back from London, look no further the Berry Brothers & Rudd. For more information, visit their website at https://www.bbr.com/

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Gentleman's Barber... Truefitt and Hill

Before I departed for London, I knew I needed to get a haircut, but decided instead of doing this in the States, I'd try something new, this trip I'd make a visit to a barber in London. Not any barber, but one my Uncle had pointed out to me on a much earlier visit to the city. So on my arrival in London, I made a point on that first day to visit the gentleman barbers, Truefitt & Hill. Located in St. James Street, they were established in 1805 and today it is the world's oldest barbershop. I've been familiar, and a regular purchaser of, their products in the States, so I decided to make a point of experiencing their barbershop experience first hand.

From the moment I entered the front door, to the moment I left their premises, I experienced a first class barbershop experience, which I have been close to achieving in the States, but have never reached this level of service.

I enjoyed a haircut by one of their master barbers and can't say enough how much I enjoyed the experience. This is one shop I will plan to visit at the beginning of each of my future visits to London to get myself looking top drawer for my time in the city.

For more information see their website at https://www.truefittandhill.co.uk/

Note: They have also opened shops in Chicago, IL, Warren, NJ, and Washington, DC, none of which I have had the pleasure of visiting at this time.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Perfect Destination for the City Mouse... Paxton & Whitfield: Cheesemongers

If you love cheese, then Paxton & Whitfield is a must stop for any visit to London. Paxton & Whitfield was established as a partnership in 1797 near Jermyn Street, where there shop is still today. In 1850, they were appointed cheesemongers to H.M. Queen Victoria, the first of many Royal Warrants the firm has held over the years.

Beginning with a trend away from traditional English cheeses towards continental cheese in the 1860s, milk being sent to industrial creameries rather than being made into artisan cheeses, and the rationing of eggs, butter and cheese during the Second World War, by the 1940s, their shop at 93 Jermyn Street became an ordinary grocery shop.

Following the Second World War, the firm reconnected with their contacts with the traditional British cheese makers and began offering the best of British cheeses once again. As Winston Churchill once observed, "a gentleman only buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield." While other cheesemongers offer an exciting selection of artisan British cheeses today. You can't escape a visit to this Grande Dame of the trade in London.

I popped by on a Sunday afternoon. I'd always meant to visit, but even walking past the shop in Jermyn Street, I never seemed to make it in the door, despite the delicious aroma of cheese emanating from their front door. This trip, I would not make the same mistake. The shop is filled with an exciting assortment of cheeses, many of which you never see in the States. In addition they have a selection of accessories for cheese service and some other very British treats like Gentleman's Relish available for purchase.

The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about every one of their cheeses and is happy to have you try a cheese before purchase. Nothing here is pre-packaged and is cut to order, so if you only want a small bite to enjoy in a nearby park, they are happy to sell you just the small size you need.

I'd decided on two favourites, Double Gloucester and Cheshire, as well as once cheese I never seem to find in the States, Single Gloucester.

My only regret is that Paxton & Whitfield does not have a shop in the States, but then again, that is what makes trips to London so special, the chance to enjoy such an amazing cheese shop which has stood the test of time and changing tastes.

For more information, visit their website at http://www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk/

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Refueling with Tradition... Some Thoughts on Dining in London Part 4

This is the final post in the four part series on Dining in London

My final full day in London was spent popping into some very unique venues. I began with a quick stop at the Jamaica Wine House, locally known as "the Jampot." 

Located on the site of London's first coffee house, the sign of the Pasqua Rosee's Head in 1652, the current building was built in the 19th century. 

It features a lovely wood paneled bar divided into three sections on the ground floor, and an elegant restaurant, Todd's Wine Bar, downstairs.

I slipped in for a quick pint in my quest to try a variety of real ales, this time trying Spitfire. A lovely little place tucked away in the City of London. Not an easy find, but well worth it for a pint and a rest from a busy day. For more information, visit their website at http://www.jamaicawinehouse.co.uk/

My next stop was Simpson's Tavern. Not to be confused with Simpson's in the Strand, Simpson's Tavern was established in 1757 and lays claim as the oldest chophouse in London. 

For those fans of the Harry Potter series of novels, you can's help but see the inspiration J.K. Rowling must have gotten from alleys like the one in which Simpson's is located, for Diagon Alley.

While waiting for my friend, I popped into the bar and enjoyed a pint of real ale, this time from Bass, which is not that common of a find in London these days.

Once my friend arrived, we headed upstairs to the restaurant which is arranged in stalls, the layout remaining traditional to the 19th century. The dining arrangements are communal, so if your party does not fully occupy a stall, be prepared to have others seated with you at some point during your meal.

I started my lunch off with Simpson's mysterious Famous Stewed Cheese. Recommended as a starter or a savory desert, this was tasty and the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day. It's not listed on the menu, though I did find it on the online menu, and it's quite tasty. Think welsh rarebit.

I then moved on to their cottage pie, a shepherd's pie made with minced beef rather than minced lamb or mutton. This London institution featured tradition London food in a traditional London chophouse. Exclusively a dining establishment for men, until 1916 when women were admitted, this is one place I shall keep in mind for the future and perhaps pop in for a chance to try their full English breakfast. For more information visit their website at http://www.simpsonstavern.co.uk/

About mid-afternoon, I was in need of a break so I made my way to Gordon's Wine Bar, which was established in 1890 and is believed to be the oldest wine bar in London. Located in Kipling House, named for Rudyard Kipling who lived in the building as a tenant in the 1890s and where, in the room overhead he wrote"The Light That Failed" and both he and G.K. Chesterton wrote some of their works in the little parlour of the Wine Bar.

With indoor seating in the old cellars once used to store wine, or outdoors in Watergate Walk if the weather permits, you are sure to find a unique place to enjoy a glass of wine. They have a varied wine list full of interesting wines as well as sherries and ports which are served from the barrel. They also have food available, but I did not avail myself of their varied choices from pies to cheeses. 

I decided to enjoy a glass of port, quite reasonably priced, in Watergate Walk. It was a lovely March afternoon and I only wish I had more time in London to enjoy such a lovely little wine bar. Highly recommended for those looking for a unique bit of London history and some well priced food and wine. For more information visit their website at https://gordonswinebar.com/

As the day began to come to an end, I made one last stop at the Admiral Codrington. not too far from my hotel, this was my chance to enjoy one last pint before I readied myself for dinner with family.

I settled in with my pint inside the pub and for it very pleasant. I do wish I had time to enjoy some of their bar snacks, but as I was in a hurry, I had but time for one pint and I was off.

As I'd been doing for my entire visit, I decided to try something unique, in this case The Admiral's Cask real ale, made by Marston's Brewery.  But I'd definitely pop by for a pint if I was in the area again. For more information visit their website at http://www.theadmiralcodrington.co.uk/

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look and some unique and traditional places to grab a bite to eat or a drink while in London.