With a city farmers’ market that attracts as many as 190,000 people each year, scores of gourmet-goods startups, and fledgling food incubators, it’s no wonder that Baltimore is a breeding ground for artisans to act out their foodie fantasies. Here are the latest local small-batch finds on our radar.
Skip pedestrian pops and grab an elderflower-pear-mint pop from Picnic Pops. Music teacher Allison Smith created the organic fruit- and herb-filled pops to give her kids a treat without the dyes and sugars. One of her most popular flavors, strawberry-rhubarb, was inspired by a vendor selling strawberries and rhubarb at the farmers’ market. “We support each other and collaborate,” says Smith.
Find them: Rooster & Hen, 2302 Frederick Rd., Catonsville.
The three brothers behind Hiatus Cheesecake found a slice of magic in the kitchen while taking a hiatus from singing and songwriting. What started as a way to de-stress from making music turned into a cheesecake calling. “When we were taking breaks from our work in the studio and going into the kitchen to experiment on recipes, little did we know we were building the foundation for another business,” says co-founder Matthew Featherstone.
Find them: Cafe 1137, 7216 Windsor Mill Rd., Windsor Mill.
Inspired by Mediterranean, African, Asian, and European cuisine, owners Iman Moussa and Nevine Abouelenein of Randallstown-based Misteka Foods create flavorful Egyptian snacks and desserts with an American twist, like seasoned breadsticks or “Bâton Salé.” “It’s hard not to dive in and be a part of Baltimore, especially when it comes to food,” Moussa says. “I don’t find food businesses competing with each other as much as they are helping each other out.”
Find them: Modern Cook Shop, 901 S. Wolfe St.
At this Salisbury farm, peanuts and pecans are grown, roasted, and ground directly into small batches of innovative butters. “Why I love what I do has more to do with where I come from,” says co-owner Mark Stephenson. “Our label depicts a general store with a horse-drawn delivery wagon tended by a boy. That boy was my great-grandfather. The store was in our family from the 1880s until the 1930s. For me, it’s about creating a brand with lasting integrity.”
Find them: Eddie’s Market, 3177 St. Paul St.
McAllen’s Best Toffee
Photographer Bill McAllen started his toffee-making business after his recipe was a hit with family, friends, and even his pest-control company. After inspectors treated his house, McAllen thanked them with toffee. A year later, they asked if they could do an inspection for free, for the purpose of scoring more toffee. He knew then that his hobby was good enough to be a business. “In Baltimore, people give the little guy a chance,” says McAllen.
Find them: Graul’s Market, 7713 Bellona Ave., and other locations.