Twenty-nine Nobel Prize winners, classical music and a “civilized” steakhouse — in Baltimore

Piano Bar at The Prime Rib in Baltimore

BALTIMORE – We are visiting “Charm City” to attend “Admitted Student Visit Day” at Johns Hopkins University, where our son is going in the fall to study biomedical engineering (the nation’s top-ranked program for undergrads).

It was a non-eventful flight from Sacramento to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Southwest Airlines (which will resume nonstops on the route later this year — a big deal for Sierra Foothills dwellers like us) .

We’ve all been to the area before. I spent a semester in Washington, D.C., when I was a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University. Of course, that was long before Baltimore’s airport was renamed to honor the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who grew up here. We’ve returned since: One one occasion, our son visited D.C. for a week with his schoolmates from Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley.

This week, we’ve been exploring the Johns Hopkins campus north of downtown Baltimore ahead of Wednesday’s all-day gathering, where students and their parents “meet and mingle with other admitted Early Decision students, learn more about academics and student life, tour campus (including residence and dining halls and other on-campus spots), and meet faculty members.” I loved going to Cal (and am a lifetime member of the Alumni Association), but the private schools provide that “personal touch.”

Johns “with an s” Hopkins University

The university takes its name from 19th-century Maryland philanthropist Johns Hopkins, an entrepreneur and abolitionist with Quaker roots. (His unusual first name came from his great-grandmother’s surname). It is considered the nation’s oldest research university.  

JHU ranks among the nation’s top 10 universities. It is best known for innovations in medical research, but its Peabody Institute is the nation’s oldest music conservatory. Its faculty includes Israeli-American cellist Amit Peled, whom we’ve seen perform at In-Concert Sierra in Grass Valley.

Twenty-nine people associated with Johns Hopkins — as a faculty member, fellow, resident, or graduate — have received a Nobel Prize. Four Nobel laureates currently are on the faculty.

Sticking to the culinary theme of our FoodWineArt magazine, I scouted out some restaurants we wanted to sample. One was Woodberry Kitchen, known for its “farm to table wonderfulness.” It’s mission: “All of the food on our menu is sourced directly from a local farmer or fisherman. All of our wines and beers are local.” It was fabulous.

Another was The Prime Rib, an old-school steakhouse. It opened in 1965 and is redolent of a Manhattan supper club, complete with tuxedoed waiters and a piano bar. The Prime Rib also has an outpost in Washington D.C., where I first learned of it in the ’90s. Its motto: “The Civilized Steakhouse.”

“The Good, the Bad, the Baltimore”

To be sure, Baltimore has some big urban problems. Details are best summed up here in an article by Jean Marbella, a longtime Baltimore Sun staff writer whom I used to work with at the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.

But the issues are more nuanced, as Marbella’s well-written and well-researched article “The good, the bad, the Baltimore: City has problems, but Trump ‘got on TV and just lied’ explains. It begins: “We’re not really talking about rats, are we? Or rather, we’re not only talking about rats.”

Later in the week, we’re going to visit Baltimore’s inner harbor, revitalized as Harborplace by visionary developer James Rouse. “Harborplace was widely credited with bringing about the renewal of Baltimore’s waterfront, and Faneuil Hall (in Boston) and the South Street Seaport (in New York) gave tourists the kind of comfortable town square in the center of unfamiliar cities that they craved,” as The New York Times noted in Rouse’s obit.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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