They love good food and they love Baltimore. Spike & Amy Gjerde take us on a tour from nosh to nightlife. (©Jordan August Photography)

Locavore Love: Baltimore's Spike and Amy Gjerde

By Kelsey Snell, | 01/16/14

Locavore movement power couple Spike and Amy Gjerde put Baltimore on the culinary map in 2007 when they opened Woodberry Kitchen, for which Spike was a James Beard chef finalist last year. With two new spots Artifact Coffee and Shoo-fly Diner (and a butcher on the way), they continue to tout Baltimore’s foodshed. Together they share what else the city has to offer.

What is the city's culinary energy?

Maryland isn’t called “The Land of Pleasant Living” for nothing. Baltimore has many things that people appreciate more now than they did 15 years ago like crabs and great ethnic foods. It was the perfect place for us to do what we did at Woodberry: source locally, talk to growers and translate that into an experience. 

What traces of Baltimore are found at your restaurants?

At Woodberry, the hearth brick came from the mill building it’s in, and in our new space [Parts and Labor] we’re building the fireplace out of salvaged cobblestones from Baltimore city streets.

Exterior Woodberry Kitchen

What’s one of your favorite zones?

Remington is going to be “the spot.” Station North has become an arts center with small galleries, work spaces and cafes—from the ground up, as it happens in Baltimore.

What city feats make you proud?

We’re in the middle of “The Star-Spangled Banner” bicentennial, and that still makes me kind of proud. Fort McHenry is emblematic of what we are as a city: underestimated and
a tougher opponent than expected.

What does it mean to be a “Baltimorean”? 

One characteristic of Baltimoreans is our feeling that we’re underdogs. We’re always fighting up from below, which was why the Super Bowl win felt like this really special thing; people don’t look at Baltimore in that light very often.

Where do you take visitors to eat?

The city’s known for fish and shellfish, so either Thames Street Oyster House or Ryleigh’s Oyster. Crab cakes and oysters in Cross Street or Lexington markets are great experiences too.

Amy, where do you shop?

Living in Roland Park, we go up “The Avenue” in Hampden. There’s a store up there I like called Trohv, and a friend of mine Aimee Bracken has a clothing store right next to Woodberry called Form. She took a chance on Clipper Mill.

What makes the best souvenir?

Can we say our own Snake Oil hot sauce? It’s of this place—made here and derived from fish peppers grown in Maryland but contributed by Afro-Caribbean cooks.

Where’s the most scenic vista?

Federal Hill is almost comically beautiful. The view over the city from the south end of the harbor is amazing.

 

My Perfect Day: A dream day in Baltimore with the Gjerdes

Morning: Breakfast ‘n’ Buds

We might head downtown to Pâtisserie Poupon for our favorites: pain aux raisins (Spike) and macaroons (Amy). Pâtisserie Poupon was the first pastry position Spike held when he returned to Baltimore after college, and he still consults Josef Poupon on occasion. Then we shop at Housewerks and Second Chance for items we can “upcycle” at home and in our restaurants, and Amy picks up flowers at Cross Street Market from The Flower Shop or Rosie’s Posies.

Mid-Morning: Off to Market

If it’s a Sunday from April through December, you’ll find us at the farmers’ market under the Hwy. 83 overpass. It’s a real social scene all morning long. There is a wide variety of local fruits, vegetables, meats, honey and dairy and plenty of people making food to order.

Noon: Buzz Feed

We’d have a nourishing lunch at our own cafe Artifact Coffee, where Spike gets his mid-afternoon perk-up: a “Spikeiato” (macchiato with a shot of espresso on the side).

Afternoon: Play It Cool

After lunch we’d pick up our kids (Finn, 14, and Katie, 11) and play some disc golf in Druid Hill Park. Katie and Amy like going to The Maryland Zoo beside the park. After all that activity, the kids likely want Italian ice, soft-serve or fresh limeades from Tropicool. We sometimes hit up The Charmery on The Avenue in Hampden.

Evening: Date Night

After a movie at the newly renovated, historic Senator Theatre, we’d walk across the street to Belvedere Square Market and into our new restaurant Shoo-Fly for dinner. Then we’d drop off the kids and go to Ottobar in Remington for some music or get cocktails at speakeasy-style WC Harlan.

SLIDESHOW: Baltimore Picks from the Gjerdes