A city festival rich with flavor

Culture: The fourth annual wine, jazz and cheese festival showcases Mount Washington.

October 11, 2004|By Molly Knight | Molly Knight,SUN STAFF

Yesterday afternoon, a French chef stood on one of the city's sidewalks next to a circle-shaped frying pan covered in a golden brown crepe. With a spatula in hand he covered it in chocolate, folded it in half and called out: Madames et Monsieurs, les crepes delicieux!

A few passers-by, most of them carrying glasses of wine, stopped to purchase one of the steaming desserts made by Mustapha Snoussi, owner of Crepe du Jour, a restaurant on Sulgrave Avenue.

It might sound like an afternoon in the south of France, but the chef, and his patrons, were among the many who attended the Mount Washington Village Association's fourth annual wine, jazz and cheese festival - held yesterday on the streets of the historic Baltimore neighborhood.

This year, the festival attracted about 70 vendors, up from 35 last year, and more than 4,000 attendees. Some said the sunny, crisp weather drew a larger crowd, but organizers said the content of the festival - live jazz, wine from local vineyards, arts and crafts and international cuisine from neighborhood restaurants - makes it an increasingly popular attraction.

"I do events all the time, and this one is great because it's upscale, and there's something here for everyone," said Jay Harris, the festival's director and president of the Timonium-based public relations firm Harris Promotions.

"Every year, this gets bigger and bigger," said Blake Wollman, president of the Mount Washington Business Association, standing outside his restaurant, Desert Cafe, on Sulgrave Avenue. "It's great for the businesses here because it helps us to get our names out."

In addition to residents of Mount Washington and neighborhoods nearby, the festival attracted food and wine lovers from other places.

Strolling down the street with glasses of wine in hand, Henry Hammand and Mary Melvin said they traveled from Parkton for a day of wine tasting and shopping.

"I really like this festival because it's a cute neighborhood, and the shops are quaint," said Melvin, who purchased a $10 ticket to taste 10 wines.

Holding a bottle wrapped in a brown bag from Basignani, a family-owned vineyard near Sparks, Hamilton resident Julie Riga said: "This is the best Riesling in Maryland."

Riga, who attended with her mother, husband and 10-month-old daughter, added: "We've come for the wine, but also to enjoy everything else there is to offer."

For a neighborhood festival, the event was somewhat of a shoppers' paradise - its tree-lined streets filled with vendors selling a variety of goods including silver jewelry, paintings, beeswax candles, stained glass, award-winning hot sauces, gourmet cheese, hand-knit scarves and baby gifts.

For Tara Liberto of Elkridge, who brought two children to the festival - her 4-year-old daughter and a friend - the main attraction had nothing to do with shopping, food or wine.

"We ate some hamburgers," she said. "But the real highlight was the pony ride."

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