Anybody who flew over the holidays - as well as during the last few months - is all too well-acquainted with the rule that carry-on liquids must be in 3-ounce or smaller containers. So, what was with some travelers who entered their plane at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport carrying two bottles of wine?
Believe it or not, it's a new perk, courtesy of an airport restaurant, Baci Bar & Grill.
The restaurateur behind the program believes it may be a first in the country. Germano Fabiani says it certainly is for BWI. Fabiani owns Germano's Trattoria in Little Italy and opened Baci Bar & Grill in the Southwest Terminal in September.
Just a few days before Christmas, Fabiani kicked off Baci's wine program. Generally speaking, the only liquids allowed onboard an aircraft over the 3-ounce limit are those bought in the secure boarding area. However, Baci is located before the security checkpoint. So, Fabiani and the BWI folks have worked out an arrangement. Passengers can taste wines at the restaurant and then buy one or two bottles. Those bottles then will be transported to the plane and handed to passengers right before boarding.
Does that mean they can drink that wine on the flight?
"[Passengers] could drink it, if they carried their own wine openers," Fabiani says. "But, [security rules dictate that] you can't carry a wine opener."
As for the wines themselves, they all come from the Rocca Delle Macie winery in Tuscany, Italy - Fabiani's original home and the theme for both his eateries. There are three whites and 10 reds to choose from, with prices ranging from $20 to $90. Those available by the glass run $7 to $22 per serving, but the little sips available for tasting are free.
This is just the latest in how Fabiani hopes he is changing the airport-dining experience. Baci was meant to have the atmosphere of a modern European cafe. Hence, the state-of-the-art automatic espresso machine you'll see as soon as you enter the restaurant. And the large wine wall, which holds some 3,000 bottles.
Then, there's the bar, which seats about 25. Fabiani says the bar top is a granite-look Corian, with copper detail. There are some high top tables and stools, and regular tables and chairs - made of metal and teak. Total seating is about 100.
And there's the food. The menu is on the casual side - tailored to the traveler. There are eight salads, including grilled chicken ($6.95); chopped salad ($10.95); caprese - fresh mozzarella and tomato with mixed greens ($8.95); and a Caesar salad made with a horseradish Caesar dressing and topped with jumbo lump crab meat and smoked salmon ($13.95).
There are three wrap sandwiches ($6.50 to $6.95) and a half dozen panini sandwiches, such as turkey breast and Asiago cheese; grilled portobello mushroom, tomato and basil; and roast beef, horseradish and Swiss cheese (each $6.95).
There are also almost a dozen sandwiches, including three-cheese and sun-dried tomato ($6.95); smoked turkey, mozzarella, Granny Smith apple, sprouts, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard on multi-grain bread ($8.95); and grilled chicken, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, mixed greens, avocado and citrus mayonnaise on ciabatta ($10.95).
If you're looking for a little something Tuscan, try either of the entrees: chicken cacciatore ($9.50) or braciole Toscana - rolled beef stuffed with artichoke hearts and mozzarella and served with a wine sauce ($9.95); or the antipasto ($12.95).
For morning travelers, there are bagels, muffins, yogurt and pastries. Or you can order a frittata, an Italian omelet ($6.75 to $7.25).
Baci Bar & Grill, 410-850-0096, is located in BWI's Southwest Terminal, next to the check-in area. Its hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
As for the name, Fabiani explains that the airport is where you are generally kissing loved ones as they arrive or depart. And baci is the Italian word for kisses.
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