Table Talk: 'Bizarre Foods' star headlines third annual Foodie Experience

Lifestyle and LeisureRestaurantsDining and DrinkingServices and ShoppingBizarre Foods (tv program)Arts and CultureAndrew Zimmern

The third annual Foodie Experience is just around the corner, and the Hippodrome has released the lineup of participating restaurants, caterers and other vendors. Among them are a few restaurants that will be making their Foodie Experience debuts, including Bond Street Social, Rye, Shapiro's Cafe, Stuggy's and Waterfront Kitchen.

Instead of a post-show reception, the grazing and tasting portion of the May 12 event will take place before headliner Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel's popular program "Bizarre Foods," takes the stage at 6 p.m.

Beginning at 3 p.m., restaurants and caterers will serve samples inside the theater. For the first time, Baltimore's food trucks are invited, too. They'll gather outside the theater on Eutaw Street, which will be closed between Baltimore and Fayette streets for the event. Look for Iced Gems, Jolly Pig, Tom and Julie Waffles and Souper Freak.

If the restaurants are thinking of impressing Zimmern with exotic, zany or otherwise alarming food, they might want to reconsider. They should ply him with goat. They should think about serving sardines and mackerel, redfish and other inexpensive sources of protein that are popular in other parts of the world.

But it's goat that gets Zimmern going. "It's delicious, and it's inexpensive, but goat is like soccer in America," Zimmern said. "It's growing. We like it, but we don't get it." Goat-acceptance, Zimmern said, is a nonissue for most of the world. "It can't be that 3 billion other people aren't right."

If Americans took to eating goat, even once a week, Zimmern said, it would be one less meal from a factory farm and one more from a source that's far less destructive to the environment. Zimmern said he wants to challenge people to go outside their routines, but he doesn't want to push them too hard or too fast. "As long as people are making progress," Zimmern said. "My wife is a meat-and-potatoes girl from the Midwest. I don't need the whole world to start eating blood sausage, but I need them to start roasting alternative proteins."

But make no mistake, Zimmern is on a mission. His show is on the Travel Channel, and not the Food Network, because "Bizarre Foods" is as much about cultural exploration as it is zany food experiences. For Zimmern, introducing audiences to different ways of living is the point.

"Food is a lens on my show," Zimmern said. "This is a crucial distinction between my show and other programs, which are pointless." But Zimmern is not unaware of his show's entertainment value — the bugs, the brains and the beasts he's eaten. He knows that audiences want the grisly details. "I'm still going to be entertaining," Zimmern said. "But I feel like I have a responsibility to talk about these things."

The all-access ticket price is $94, and the Hippodrome will be selling a limited number of $250 tickets that include a post-show onstage reception with Zimmern.

Here's who else will be laying out the samples on May 12:

Ale Mary's, B&O American Brasserie, Langermann's, La Scala Ristorante, Max's Empanadas, Mother's Federal Hill Grille, Mr. Rain's Fun House, the Oceanaire Seafood Room, Portalli's, RA Sushi, Regi's, Roy's, the Wine Market and Spectrum Catering.

Also: Great Cheese Co., A. Kirchmayr Chocolatier, Midnite Confection's Cupcakery, Mustache Bakery and Richardson Farms.

Tickets for the Foodie Experience are on sale at the Hippodrome Theatre box office and Ticketmaster (410-547-7328 and ticketmaster.com)

Deal days Baltimore's seventh annual Summer Restaurant Week has been announced for July 27 through Aug. 5. During the 10-day event, participating restaurants will offer three-course fixed-price dinner menus for either $20.12 or $30.12 (but not both).

Some restaurants will also offer a two-course lunch, consisting of an appetizer and entree, priced at $15.12.

Participating restaurants have not been announced. They'll be posted on the promotion's website, http://www.baltimorerestaurantweek.com, when they are.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com

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