Taste of the Arts: City to host tasting tour of downtown arts district

May 15, 2012|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Rania Challan, a native of Syria, will prepare Turkish coffee at Jassmin Cafe, a recently opened coffee shop in downtown Hagerstown. Jassmin will take part in Taste of the Arts on Thursday.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Try a bite of chicken sausage. Or Cajun-spiced chicken salad. Or tabbouleh. Or Turkish coffee. All while checking out live music, theater and original art.

If this sounds like marvelous food for body and soul, well, that's the idea.

It's all part of Taste of the Arts, a walking tour of restaurants in downtown Hagerstown's Arts and Entertainment district from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 17.

Food and arts can be found in 12 locations on Thursday. The new Spin Restaurant, Club and Lounge half a block south of Public Square will host vocal and guitar students from Barbara Ingram School for the Arts plus tastes of two dishes, according to owner and executive chef Bob Hagerman.

"We're sampling our spinach-artichoke dip and a pasta dish — cheese ravioli with chicken sausage and alfredo sauce," he said.

Hagerman said Spin serves contemporary American food with a twist. He hopes people take a look around his new business.

"It's not only a restaurant," he said. "There's a 2,000-square-foot dance floor. Downstairs is another bar and dance floor."

A couple doors away, at The Maryland Theatre, Elois Jenkins will be serving tastings of two New Orleans-style dishes. Jenkins is owner and cook for Gumbo-Elois Catering, based in Hagerstown. She said she'll offer Cajun gumbo with rice and Gumbo-Elois spicy chicken salad at the theater.

Jenkins said she wants people to remember her food.

"I try to give a person a taste they can taste," she said. "Gumbo is really Creole. It's from Africa. I call it Cajun because a lot of people know more about Cajun than Creole."

Jenkins moved to Hagers-town from New Orleans in 2007 after Hurricane Katrina. Her catering business specializes in New Orleans, Cajun and Southern cooking. She said she comes by her cooking style naturally.

"I'm a Southern girl," she said. "And I'm a good cook."

Another new business in downtown Hagerstown is Jassmin Cafe. The coffee shop, on Public Square, is owned by Mohamad Alkayal, who emigrated to the United States from Damascus, Syria. The shop is managed by Alkayal's mother, Rania Challan.

For Taste of the Arts, the cafe will offer tabbouleh and falafel, two traditional Syrian dishes.

Challan described falafel as a vegetarian hamburger made from chick peas; it will be served with tahini. Tabbouleh is a salad of bulgur wheat with finely chopped lettuce, tomato and parsley with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.

Jassmin will also offer Turkish coffee, a strong coffee served with ground cardamom and coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup.

Foods at other venues include German specialties at Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant, Italian food at Rocky's Pizza Caffe Napoli and popcorn served by Otterbein United Methodist Church volunteers in Public Square.

It's all available at no additional charge for participants who buy a passport-ticket for $20.

Passport holders may sample foods at a dozen venues during the event. Participants who get their passport stamped at all 12 venues and turn it in Thursday night at Washington County Arts Council will be eligible to win one of three prizes — a $500 gift certificate from Anderson Photographs, $300 in City Center Dollars or two two-person admissions to the Wind Down Friday series.

Advance passports can be bought by calling The Maryland Theatre at 301-790-2000, visiting the theater box office at 21 St. Potomac St. or going to Service charges apply to phone and online purchases.

A Taste of the Arts is sponsored by the Downtown Alliance and the City of Hagerstown. Proceeds will be divided among The Maryland Theatre, Washington County Arts Council and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation.

If you go ...       

What: Taste of the Arts

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 17

Where:  Downtown Hagers-town

Cost: $20 for a passport-ticket to sample foods at 12 venues

Contact: For more information, call Karen Giffin at 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

More: Advance passports can be bought by calling The Maryland Theatre at 301-790-2000, visiting the theater box office at 21 St. Potomac St. or going to Service charges apply to phone and online purchases.

Tastings of both Food and art    

Foods tastings and visual and performing arts will be available Thursday at these venues, all in downtown Hagerstown:

  •  Applause Caterers, 58 E. Washington St. — performances by Hagerstown Children's Theater
  •  Brickyard Grill, 15 W. Washington St. — visual art by Erin Mettille
  •  Bulls and Bears Restaurant, 38 S. Potomac St. — musical theater by Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students
  •  Jassmin Coffee, 2 W. Washington St. — flute and clarinet music featuring Gabe Hall and Brianna Arnamann; violinists Phoebe Snyder and Molly Schneider; and cellist Lucas Hansen
  •  Leiters Fine Catering Inc., 28 S. Potomac St. — art by Lauren Gianola plus violinists Phoebe Snyder and Molly Schneider and pianists Daniel Johnson and Josh Hollin
  •  Otterbein United Methodist Church popcorn stand on Public Square, corner of Washington and Potomac streets — art or music by Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students
  •  The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., featuring Gumbo-Elois Catering — art or music by Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students
  •  The Rhubarb House, 12 Public Square — guitar and vocal music by Bill Mason and Josh Hollin; and cellist Lucas Hansen
  •  Rocky's Pizza Caffe Napoli, 40 N. Potomac St. — guitarists Adam Stewart and Bill Mason
  •  Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant, 58 S. Potomac St. — piano and vocal music featuring Sydney Gonsalves, Daniel Johnson, Savannah Brown, John Kryzwicki and Alexa Dumpe
  •  Spin Restaurant, Club and Lounge, 43 S. Potomac St. — vocal and instrumental music featuring Taia Collins, Casi Axline-Kidwiler, Sydney Gonsalves and Alex Moore
  •  Washington County Arts Council, 14 W. Washington St., featuring dessert samples from the Gourmet Goat and The Plum — music by Rob Hovermale and Evan Price

Lineup  is subject to change

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