No more pork chops -- it's tapas time


May 05, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

It's an election year. So naturally, sales of ginger- and lemongrass-infused lobster spring rolls with avocado wasabi mousse are through the roof. The rubber-chicken circuit is giving way in Baltimore to something hip enough to sit on square plates: campaign tapas.

Politicians and guava-glazed ribs alike are getting a good grilling at "Politics '06 at 6," a weekly forum Tuesday evenings at Eden's Lounge in Mount Vernon. Think Arbutus Roundtable, except for the chi-chi fare, the mostly black crowd and the live band that tunes up as the pols wind down.

Which is to say, don't think Arbutus Roundtable - until those noshing from the comfort of orange leather couches get down to the business of putting visiting pols on the hot seat. Then the hipsters prove to be as square as those plates, popping wonkish questions about the likes of "stranded costs."

Throw that term out at your average singles bar, and people think you're talking mad money. Not at Eden's the other night, when the loungers had BGE on their minds and two office-seekers on hand: gubernatorial hopeful Doug Duncan and Del. Dan Morhaim.

Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume and Del. Anthony Brown, who is running for lieutenant governor on Martin O'Malley's ticket, also have appeared since the forums started a month ago.

On Tuesday, Duncan looked as comfortable as a guy in a business suit could in front of a club stage, a drum set behind him, funky fringe curtains on either side. Morhaim, less so, as he opened with an admonition to quit smoking. (Hey, the guy's an ER doc. Give him credit for trying to save lives in a smoky bar, perhaps at the cost of a few votes.)

The forums are an extension of a monthly political dinner club that Doni Glover, publisher of, has organized at various locations since 2002. Because it's an election year, Glover decided to hold the gatherings weekly and in one spot. They're open to the public.

"There's really a need for it," Glover says. "It's a service to the politicians running."

And to politically minded Baltimoreans, who have been casting about for a gathering place since Downtown Southern Blues closed on North Howard Street. Politics used to get washed down there with pork chops, mashed potatoes and cornbread, recalls Anthony McCarthy, the former WYPR-FM (88.1) radio host who is running for the House of Delegates in the 44th District.

"Every campaign season, it seems like there's a place that is the flavor of the political season," says McCarthy, who was "kind of stunned" the first time he joined the group at Eden's. "These are very sophisticated flavors."

Boxers, not briefs, and drinks put it best:

"The happy hour was won at $660 by an extra-large individual who's fond of tacky watches and gently used boxer shorts! Congrats!"

The blogger was referring, of course, to the happy hour with Baltimore police Commissioner Leonard Hamm and State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy, sold this week in a charity auction on eBay.

The winner? Phkhtsrf. No official word yet on who that eBay ID belongs to. But phkhtsrf's bidding history raises a curious question about the guy (or gal) who gets to have drinks with Charm City's top two law-enforcement officials:

Why would someone with the bucks to blow $660 on a happy hour buy underwear on eBay? Even if, as the sellers assured, the tags were still on the XL Tommy Hilfiger boxers, aren't undies of questionable provenance just a little creepy?

At least Lenny and Pat will have a good icebreaker.

Blooming for two days

First, some news: The Flower Mart begins today. Now, the real news: It doesn't end today. For the first time in its 89-year history, the Flower Mart will be a two-day affair.

Why was the event always reserved for folks who had time, in the middle of a weekday, for petals and peppermint sticks? Well, says Carol Purcell, the event's executive director, that was a perfectly convenient time for the ladies of the Women's Civic League, who started the thing way back when.

"It probably should have been changed some time ago," she said.

Crime is common; logic is rare

Court TV celebrated the opening of its new Washington news bureau Wednesday night with a party atop the Kennedy Center. Among the attendees trumpeted in a news release: correspondents from the network and other TV news outlets, at least one congressman and - drumroll, please - the mayor of Baltimore.

Why was Martin O'Malley on the guest list? What's his connection to Court TV, besides his being married to a judge?

"I think they've done a lot of work in the area," says Adam Schiff, a PR guy for the network.

Well, we do have a lot of crime here in Baltimore, and that means lots of criminal trials. Is that it?

Schiff says he didn't know any more than that. Hizzoner's office was at a loss, too, but folks there were checking into it.

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