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I’ve now been a Maryland resident for 9 months, but it didn’t take me that long to discover there are three things Maryland takes very seriously: Crabs, Old Bay and Crab Cakes. Yes, crabs are separate from crab cakes.

I personally never understood the whole crab cake thing until a few years ago when visiting a friend and I had one in Annapolis. It was by far the best crab cake I’d ever had, and it wasn’t 75% bread, 25% imitation crab. It was more like 75% real crab and 25% filler. So I became a fan. And then I moved to Baltimore.Crab Cake Platter

As with any city, there are about ten places that claim to have the best of the state’s specialty. Since arriving, I’ve been trying each out (all for you of course,) and I have to say, yes they were good. But nothing that really screamed at me as the best. Most of them have very little filler and depending on how spicy you like your food would depend which one you like best—I prefer less spice. But then, I went to Pappas. I quickly realized why these crab cakes made Oprah’s Favorite Things.

This crab cake was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. There was absolutely no breaded filler! It was lump crab meat with some spices, all held together by their special mayonnaise mix. 100% large lumps of crab, cooked to perfection. And it actually tasted like crab! This delectable crab cake is by far the best crab cake I’ve ever had. Never mind Baltimore, I’m going to say it’s the best in the USA! And making it even better, you can ship crab cakes across the county for a delectable treat.

So when you come to Baltimore to visit the Bloomberg School, be a classic Marylander and stop by Pappas for their Crab Cake Platter. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

Planet Sculpture

Earlier this month was Baltimore’s annual Artscape, the largest free arts festival in the nation. This year’s festival theme was “Explore What’s Out There.” There were several sculptures around the blocked off streets. The one pictured above is of the planets in our solar system. Each planet was accompanied by a sign with facts about its physicality and differences with Earth. The coolest location in the sculpture was Earth because it came with street dancers and a DJ. It was a great area to enjoy some food truck Crossroads Bistro Truckdeliciousness.

With the food truck options, I was not about to stop at one of the restaurants bordering Artscape. After much deliberation, I indulged in Crossroads Bistro Truck, which features combining two cultures into one dish. I stayed pretty tame and had the American-Mexican mix of the Rueben Quesadilla. Let me tell you, it was spot on. The Greek Salad Spring Rolls were also tempting, but I needed to save room for that all American funnel cake from a more traditional food stand. (I still don’t understand why fried dough tastes so good.)

Rueben QuesadillaFunnel Cake

One thing I really enjoyed about Artscape was the way strangers were able to come together around art. Although a permanent sculpture on the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)’s campus, I enjoyed watching strangers determined to move the rocks to change the balance of the baskets in the sculpture “Ripple.” I never saw ripples made from the baskets dropping into the water, but I saw many ripples as we tossed the rocks and missed the basket and in a philosophical sense many people joined in after watching a few people struggle to make a change in the cantilevers. In addition to conversing over permanent sculptures, the festival gave the Baltimore community a chance to see the artwork of many local artists as well as student artists at MICA.Ripple

While I perused the Artists’ Market, and picked out my mother’s Christmas present, I enjoyed learning about food in outer space. As with all festivals, there were many activities for the kids. While I didn’t explore Kidscape, which always features hands-on activities for the kids, I did enjoy a tent that presented the combination of science and culinary art to sustain astronauts.

Despite the heat, Artscape was a wonderful evening out. It is officially on my list of annual activities.

Coming from a small town in Central Pennsylvania where farms were abundant, I miss the farmers’ markets and driving up to the houses in the Amish communities for the freshest produce. I have been discovering farmers’ trucks along the side of the road, but I miss the experience of what I refer to as Farmers’ Market Day. When my coworkers told me about the Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar, I knew this was something that couldn’t wait on my Discovering Baltimore list.

Every Sunday, the Baltimore’s Farmers’ Market and Bazaar takes place under highway Mushroom Stand83 from 7 a.m. to sell out, typically around noon. The market usually runs from mid-April through mid-December. The market is also a bit of a bazaar where local craftsmen have items for sale and some vendors sell delectable items for customers’ breakfast, lunch or brunch. There was one stand that only sold mushrooms while another specialized in pickles. Add a fruit salsa stand and I was no longer surprised by what I would come across as I wandered through the expansive market.

I prefer to buy my weekly veggies from the small family farmers’ stands. This week I Knopp's Farm Standwas delighted by Knopp’s Farm from Severn, Maryland. Although I didn’t buy any sweet potatoes this week, I did purchase some juicy blueberries and a small basket of mixed squash. In addition to the last snow peas for the season and lettuce from a few other stands, I purchased some bread from a local bakery. The Breadery stone grinds the flour and uses whole grains, even in the white Montana Bread. I chose the hearty Orange Cranberry Pecan loaf, which makes a delicious peanut butter sandwich.

With free parking in a few parking lots and the Mercy Hospital garage, the Baltimore The Day's PurchasesFarmers’ Market and Bazaar was easy to get to and a wonderful experience. For all of you moving to Baltimore for the coming year, or thinking of applying to the Bloomberg School, The Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar is an absolute must.

When I moved here 8 months ago, a big part of my decision of where to live had to do with the commute into the East Baltimore/Medical Campus.

Personally, I knew I wanted to live in the suburbs and chose north of the outer loop Charles Village(695) in the Timonium/Lutherville area. I love my choice and getting to campus is easy. I get on 83 South and my satellite parking lot is two blocks away from my exit. I then take a free shuttle from the parking lot to campus. Most mornings it takes me about 25 minutes to get to work by 7:30 a.m. However, if I’m running late or there is an accident, the commute can take up to an hour. (I’d like to note that I usually miss the majority of rush hour traffic and I don’t experience too many accidents.)

I’ve learned that the west side of Baltimore on 695 and 795 tend to have a lot of traffic during rush hour—at least that is what my radio station’s traffic reports imply. On the south and east side, 95 is another highway that gets backed up very quickly. However, if you want a suburb on the west side, Owings Mills is the start of the metro subway line and it runs straight to Johns Hopkins Hospital, which is across the street from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A lot of students choose to live near the Homewood Campus in Charles Village. JHU runs a free shuttle regularly between the Homewood and Johns Hopkins Medical Institute (two blocks from the main Bloomberg building). That shuttle also stops at the Peabody Institute, which is in Mt. Vernon, another popular place for students. If you are looking for more of a city experience, then Canton, Fell’s Point, Harbor East, and the Inner Harbor might be the place for you. These “city” neighborhoods are easily assessable by bike, public transit and Baltimore’s free bus, the Charm City Circulator.

For those of you who want to walk to campus every day, there are a few apartment options surrounding our campus. New apartment buildings have been added recently and there are several townhouse options in most directions from campus.

Hopefully this insight into how to get from future neighborhoods to campus will help you in deciding where to live in Baltimore. Some helpful websites for finding places to live are as follows:

We had an interesting winter here in Baltimore with the record snow fall, but I think I can officially say the spring weather has arrived. April definitely began like a lion, but it left like a lamb with beautiful 70-80 degree weather. Spring also means that the local festivals and events are beginning.

At the beginning of April, despite some cool evenLight Cityings, Baltimore hosted the inaugural Light City, “A festival of light, music and innovation.” Designed along the inner harbor, people gathered to see light displays that incorporated storytelling, motion and sound. The weeklong festival was declared a success and planning is already in motion for the 2017 Light City to be expanded to 10 days. To the right is a picture my co-worker’s husband took.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to the Baltimore Book Festival. After all, anything involving books is pretty awesome, but a three day festival in the fall? Baltimore can count on me being there!

Being new to the city, this coming summer I’ll be writing several posts about discovering Baltimore. I hope you join me as I explore the many different festivals and events that make up the community fondly known as Charm City. And since I won’t be able to attend every single event, here is a great listing that allows you to filter the events.