"Born of travel-loving parents, I call Baltimore my home-base. Eighteen years ago, I arrived and opened a small boutique in Hampden called 'Oh Said Rose,' followed five years later with a shoes and chocolate boutique, 'Ma Petite Shoe' (from the French turn-of-phrase MonPetitChou), and followed that with a creperie and espresso bar three years ago. I like to stay busy."
What are you most proud of?
Overcoming my fear of public speaking I had as a kid that became debilitating in college. Throat clutching, heart pounding, unable to contribute even in a small lecture class. I now actually enjoy speaking in front of a crowd, even in TV appearances. I tell myself, 'It's just adrenaline. Enjoy the ride!'
What is your favorite thing to splurge on?
Spanish boots: Pikolinos or Camper. And Italian cashmere socks. And a great cup of coffee. And the Acela high speed train to New York. And the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. Um, I think I splurge a lot...
When traveling, what do you never leave home without?
The book I've been meaning to read. Plus, I love buying every fashion magazine that catches my fancy in the airport, in addition to Vanity Fair and The Economist. Then, doing the same thing on the way back. European editions of Vogue, et al.
Describe the perfect weekend in Baltimore.
Arrive hungry and head to Hampden to eat oysters doused in Pikesville Rye Whiskey (ask for it at the Hon Bar) and/or crab cakes. Take your pick from nationally recognized, Food Network star-studded restaurants; The Food Market, Woodberry Kitchen, La Cuchara (Basque cuisine) or have the best tequila of your life at Clavel. Breakfast with Waverly locals at Pete's Grill (yes, they serve lovely, lovely grits). Work it off walking around Druid Park Lake and catch a great view of the city. Visit the Chamber of Wonders at the Walters Art Gallery or the Sculpture Garden at the BMA (both major art museums are free in Baltimore). Catch a burlesque show at The Creative Alliance or The Ottobar, or a queer comedy show at Zissimos with Charm City Comedy Project. If you are lucky enough to be in town for a Charm City Kitty Club event, (queer cabaret) check them out at The Theatre Project. Top off your weekend with a fabulous espresso drink "housemade Lavendar Latte, anyone?" and a Brie-L-T crepe at Ma Petite Shoe Cafe before heading home.
What is your favorite neighborhood? And why?
Hampden, of course. The scrappy, enterprising neighborhood where I spend most of my time. Home to Baltimore's best indie shopping and restaurants. Everything is here. Whiskey brewers and bars (Blue Pit Bar-b-Que), independent bookstores and record shops (Atomic Books), home goods (In Watermelon Sugar), the Ministry of Swing dance studio, and my businesses, Ma Petite Shoe which specializes in artisanal shoes and chocolate, and Ma Petite Shoe Cafe which serves up savory (and sweet) crepes and espresso drinks.
If you had to give a visitor one keepsake from the destination, what would it be?
Mouth Party Caramels. Made here in Baltimore. (Buy more than a couple of bags of the Sea Salt or OMGs)
Alive, dead or fictional – who is your favorite local?
That's a toss-up. Gertrude Stein (and the Cone Sisters), Edgar Allan Poe, Billie Holiday or John Waters. Admittedly, we have a cast of great locals.