Monday, February 20, 2017

Technology

There may be a dark period for the feeder for a bit.   He is going to "upgrade" the laptop (home of the feeder) to Windows 10.  we have already migrated on (this) desktop, and I had a devil of a time getting to the "blogger" site for this heads up.. 

So, I will hold my breath as the laptop goes to the "IT" department. 

Another (laptop) concern is the compatibility with Lightroom which is the poor (not really) man's version of Photoshop.  So, who the hell knows what is going on.   Southern Maryland Blog Support may go on notice!

and just another little rant to start your (holi)day.  Does this happen to you?  You know on the various "bulk" boxes for K-Cups, Cheez Its, AA battery packages, and other products there are little serrations in the cardboard to ostensibly give you a nice little dispenser carton.. Right... Well, try as I might, as careful as I am, INVARIABLY the damn thing rips right down the middle, rendering it useless.  So you have a pile of (whatever) and another candidate for the recycle bin..

TTFN and,

DFD

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bovine and Pisces

Clever, eh?

The possibilities are almost endless:  Dogies and Dogfish, Hereford and Hake, Charolais and Catfish, Angus and Angler, on and on….

You might get the drift that we revisited Cow and Fish the other night, which would be true. We were pleased to see that some improvements have been effected since our earlier visits.   Timing was much better this time, no long periods between courses, and entrees did not arrive on top of appetizers, and no incessant “how is everything?”.  Although we had a different server, ours did not ask me to cut into the steak to "see if it was okay".  The other server did ask an adjoining table that question.   I am of two minds on that issue, I would prefer the former approach showing confidence in the kitchen to produce the degree of doneness requested (although I admit that it is a bit subjective), but it does save a potential round of sending things back (which should be rare (ha ha) and hope that your dish is well done). 

This time a bartender was on duty (I asked) and did not do the drink test, rather asked for a Gin Martini, up with a lemon twist. Unfortunately the choices of Gin were only the first two of the holy trinity (Bombay, Tanqueray, Beefeater).  I suppose in a smaller venue, having a bottle of some esoteric brand gathering dust isn’t economical..  Anyway, I chose Bombay and received



Although I prefer a classic “up” glass, the stemless version is increasingly common. I suppose it is driven by less breakage, less trouble for the transit from the bar to the table, etc.  It certainly can't match the beauty of a well turned out Martini.  However, that is NOT an unripe lemon, nor a slice of jalapeño which it resembles, but in fact a “twist” of lime.   At that point I figured citrus is citrus (plus I was thirsty) and didn’t object. MFO had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

I don’t believe their menu has changed since day one (as evidenced by the tattered edge creeping into the picture above), but they do offer specials, I think maybe three or four on that evening…We decided on a starter of the always reliable Patatas Bravas, and I chose of the of specials, a “blackened” rib eye, and MFO selected grilled salmon from the main menu.  Neither of us selected a side salad as one of the “sides” that came with, but I thought I spied one going to another table (I always look at other tables).  Here is one of their salads as served back in April of 2016


Which makes a very nice presentation with those tomatoes at the cardinal points.  This time I thought I saw a salad arrive in a plain bowl.   Too bad if true.   All of the food had very good flavor, and my steak was medium rare and also “lightly blackened” as I had requested.   The owner stopped by the table and just chatted, without questioning the food, also a welcome touch.  My second glass of a Rioja was served from the bottle, a nice refinement which I wish would be repeated more often elsewhere…

There were perhaps four other tables and three ball caps in the restaurant, sigh.  

As an aside, one of the reasons we wound up at C&F instead of our usual haunt of the Dry Dock, is that their menu has not changed for months.  Being a regular, we have pretty much exhausted each item.  Yes, they have specials as well, but there seems to be a cycle there as well.  Of course one of the attractions for us is the “Cheers” phenomenon, greeted at the door, drink almost as you sit down, and continued pleasant service.    Sometime we can get into the relationship between quality of food and quality of service.   Bad food; great service?  Come back? How about great food; inept service?  Mediocre food; just good service?   What’s your rules?


And lastly I got a very nice note from somebody I used to work with regarding my little (Super Bowl) “observation” on violence in our culture.  While I didn’t intend to impugn “guns” or venture into the quagmire of “gun control”, my friend pointed out how much he enjoyed the sporting aspect of firearms (target, skeet, etc.,), and the fact that the NRA has lots of programs to promote safe handling, keeping, and general safety of firearms. 

Oh and cycling back to the Kow and the Koi, we are addicted to “Morse”,  a John Thaw (RIP) program on WETA UK that airs at 8pm, so we took home a slice of lemon cake and had a sip (well many) of FOJTE’s Valentine’s gift to accompany it.



Nice wrap up to the evening, and of course we were

DFC&F


PS, again spying on an adjacent table who ordered (off the menu?) crab balls, which arrived looking delicious, not your usual SOMD golf ball of crab stuff, but more like a Chinese dumpling one might see on a Dim Sum cart..  Think we’ll put those down instead of the Patatas next time..

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bottom of the Bowl, a wee dram, and hearts..



Before we move on to Basketball, Hockey, golf leading up to Masters, and other sports, I do want to make a (serious) comment on the recently completed American Ritual of the Super Bowl (where IS that jersey?).  In recent years, the commercials embedded (and seemingly dominating) the game itself have become a secondary competition.  I did watch some, but the quality seemed to decline this year, with maybe the exception of the Lumber 84 piece involving “the wall”.  Regardless of your political leanings, you must admit it was well done, impactful, and made a statement.  If you didn’t hear of or get a chance to see the “censored” ending, it might be worth a look..

But I digress.  I don’t think there is anybody in the country that would disagree that violence both domestic and civil has taken a dramatic increase over the last few years/months.   We decry the seemingly senseless use of guns and meaningless deaths that occur over things like road rage and escalating disagreements.   Yet, it seemed that every other “commercial” this year was devoted to things like Arnold Schwarzenegger in full military uniform, urging a call up of some military force, followed by animated images of explosions with bodies flying through the air, or some young gentleman with a stylized automatic weapon blasting away at something.   Well, all of those are just games played on an (expensive) computer for fun, correct?  But, what about the players who (IMHO) probably are young, and just learning about life.  Situation you don’t like?   POW!  Somebody who is a perceived threat?  KAWHAMMY! I dunno, just seems like we “glorify” that kind of behavior and then are amazed that it gets translated to “real” life.  Okay, stepping down.

Not quite! While I’m at it, there is another genre of (more harmless but annoying) commercials that appear every year leading up to April 15th.  Somebody now even has Watson on your side, and there’s some arrogant person who urges us to “don’t get your taxes done, get your taxes WON!”.   I guess the premise is that every schlub in America is so ignorant that the “government/IRS” is cheating you out of your own money beyond your small brain to comprehend, and by God, just have us do your taxes and we’ll chisel your money back.  We’ll close those conspiritory loopholes designed to dupe you out of your cash..  Ha ha…

Okay, Feeder you’re getting out of control.----You’re right almighty muse!  Let’s get back to more familiar territory. 

Whiskey River take my mind...
Last weekend I joined a lot of folks at the first (?) annual “Spirits of Maryland” event hosted by the Maryland Distillers Guild, in the newly opened Pax River Naval Air Museum with the catchy title of “Where the Right Stuff Meets the Strong Stuff”.  Clever, no?   The old "Bottle to Throttle" axiom went out the window for this gathering, with a mix of aircraft and spirits!





Not a Boeing person’s favorite air machine…BTW

Distilleries, like craft breweries are springing up in Maryland, and all of the distilleries providing tastings were from Maryland. There is now a distillery in good old St. Mary’s County, the Tobacco Barn Distillery (an odd juxtaposition of two “vices”) and they were displaying and dispensing their products.


While those Tobacco Barn folks produce Whiskey (can’t call it Bourbon!), Rum, and Rye, others are more specialized such as the Sagamore Distillery which (apparently only produces straight Rye), in two strengths, regular and “Cask”.  The former is a more common 83 proof, while the latter tips in at around 112.   “Tips(y)” is probably apt.  I did sample the tamer variety and kind of liked it.  By the way, we don't have space nor time to go into the history of Rye in Maryland...another time.


The fledgling Patapsco folk (from Sykesville) brought some Vodka and also T shirts! They plan to expand their line (spirits, not T shirts) soon.




There were nibbles to help soak up the alcohol, and music to please the ears


It was a nice event, well managed and everybody had a good time..  A list of the distilleries that participated can be found here


Heart to heart
And I can’t let February the 14th (today) pass without a nod to the special day.  Although common parlance calls it “Valentine’s Day” it is really “Saint Valentine’s Day” which has roots in ancient history:  “From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. ... Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Dayit is left to the reader to ponder how a holy day honoring martyred saints turned into candy hearts, roses, and candy boxes..Remember these?



Although the day can mean something different to everybody, I hope it serves to remember loved ones, either here or in memory..
The day at the digs:



And if your particular method of celebration calls for dining out, for heaven’s sake
DFD

PS:  MFO are greatly enjoying watching coverage of the Westminster Dog show, with extended coverage on National Geographic Wild if you can find it on your particular video lash up.  Lots of "behind the scenes" stuff.   Go Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, aka Grifs!  (our granddogs: Stanley and Smoke)



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Bowl of Soup, and more, plus a public alert

or more properly Soup-er Bowl!

And so it was.  I hope you enjoyed the festivities.  Did you have a party?  Attend one?  I usually publish a few guidelines for a super bowl watching event, but things got away from me this year..  so I guess I’ll have to frame it as a quiz to see how you rated. 

For some reason which escapes me, it seems that Cajun or Mexican style dishes have gotten themselves to be a traditional accompaniment to the game.  Did you have Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Étouffée, Chili, Nachos, Tacos, and maybe Enchiladas?  And also over the years it has become common to see how much heat you can build into the dish.. Glistening forehead a must. 

Shrimp are a given, preferably with Remoulade sauce.

Doritos (a great sponsor of the Game) are common, as are various dips (seven layer, black bean, taco, horseradish, etc.)  A cheese tray is always appreciated; best are the ones that come from the super market and have cubes and some sort of tepid cold cuts. Bruschetta would be right on the border..  And snacks in general must have something the color of orange.

I am (as alert readers know) a big fan of harmony when it comes to food, so an event like the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of smash mouth violence, battle of the three hundred pounders, trash talking, silly celebrations, in your face behavior call for food like the above.   No Foie Gras, watercress sandwiches, dainty coquettes, just vein clogging, artery filling stuff.  And if somebody (with apologies) mentions “Vegan” they should be immediately ejected from the party site.   Now I am sure there are people who host a (for want of a better term) “gourmet” Super Bowl event, but they would be better off sponsoring a figure skating party, or maybe a ballet performance.   Football is football, dammit.

And then we get to consider what beverages should be offered.  Of course the immediate answer is: beer.   Budweiser, Miller, Coors, good old American suds (and even their (gasp again) "light" versions.   However, these days, that will probably have to be modified due to the explosion of so-called “craft beers”.  We could spend a whole column on what exactly defines a “craft” beer, since some of the big boy breweries now offer their mass produced and marketed versions.  Anyway, some of those are good and a good companion to that kind of food (I would prefer a Stout, since I'm not really a "hop head").  It goes without saying that anything with a fruit (blueberry, grapefruit, or the sissy Blue Moon) mentioned on the label doesn’t count.   And, being a wine guy, there would be a few wines that are appropriate perhaps, something with a lot of body, high alcohol content, and preferably Red.   Like maybe an Old Vines Zin, a monster Cab,  some Rhones might work..

Our menu kind of broke some of my rules, but generally fit.  The crock pots contain Ro-Tel/Velveeta dip, and ‘Lil smokies, followed by MFO's (soon to be famous) Chili and garlic bread...



As to the game itself, it turned out to be a historical contest.  I know many people who threw in the towel at the end of the third quarter, figuring the outcome was not in doubt.   Although I didn’t have much rooting interest either way, I do feel kind of sorry for the Atlanta bunch, that is going to hurt for a while.  As a quick aside, I listened a bit to “Mike and Mike” this morning, and they had a debate going as to whether one/a team would rather be in the game and lose that way (historical comeback), or just not be there at all.  Golic said that he would give his whole career just to be in a Super Bowl regardless of the outcome..

Jessie (no james)

Had a couple of quick reports of lunches at Jessie’s Kitchen,



one of the “new” eateries in Leonardtown in the renovated Winegardner used car facility - along with the BBQ place.  


 somehow, I think the juxtaposition of "Urban" and "Bar-B-Que" is kind of an oxymoron

Anyway, MFO met a friend at Jessie’s the other day for lunch and thought it was quite acceptable.  She had a wrap, and was pleased.   I was out in Leonardtown earlier today and so took a swing by the place and ducked in a moment to see if I could get a carry out menu. Didn’t presume to take the trusty ELPH inside, but it looked kind of casual with a community type table down the center and some booths (?) along each wall..  According to MFO, they do come and take your order.

They are on Facebook if you want to take a look, they term themselves as  “Asian Fusion”, an (IMHO) an all too overused designation.  There are a few terms on the menu that might have you reaching for your cell phone unless you’re a big Asian food buff


Bulgogi?  Korean grilled marinated beef;  Gyoza?  Japanese pan fried dumplings; Shiumai? Cantonese dumplings with varied fillings; so kind of a tour of the pacific rim…  By the way, those definitions are kind of classic, so really don’t know how Jessie handles them..  and a couple of surprises… under soup (upper right):  TO FU; under Sandwiches: Cuban Reuben:  (direct quote:) Sauerkraut &? Swiss Cheese with A Russian Dressing  Not sure what would come on the plate…Ham?  Pork? Pickles? Mustard?

Anyway, at one time I thought this was a regional chain, but now I’m not so sure.

Public Announcement:  Direct attack on the Feeder!!!

As alert (and even not so alert) readers know, my closing tag line for years has been an admonishment to wear something commensurate with the food you’re about to take, especially the evening meal, shortened to an acronym.

Well there is a local theater company putting on a performance of a play called (Gasp!)




These signs are all over the county, in direct opposition to the Feeder’s crusade.  Just planting the wrong seed in the minds of the locals,  sigh.   So, I will attempt to right this abhorrent collection of words to be a more civilized


In actuality, DDFD is a “two-act play by French playwright Marc Camoletti, , who wrote the farce Boeing-Boeing” – another parallel with the feeder.  After a six year run in Europe, it opened on Broadway in 2012, and now is opening in Southern Maryland, in Port Tobacco..  If you go, you just might see the Feeder outside in white robes with one of those “The End is Near!” type signs and on it will of course be


DFD

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Steaks are...

evolving.

something a bit different today (not quite the Monty Python "completely different"),but interesting and perhaps somewhat educational:



The first issue in a new year of most food magazines often contain predictions of what is going to be “hot” or trendy for the coming year.  So, my first issue of the Restaurant Hospitality magazine (from the Penton Empire) was no different and they have a little piece on the "Hottest Menu Trends for 2017".   It presented a little paragraph on six "trends" they expect to be hot: Ethnic Breakfast Menus - more breakfast tacos and burritos, rice bowls, and Pho; Creative Coffee - higher end coffee is rapidly moving from the independent Barista to global chains like Starbucks, coffee cocktails, lattes served on draft and more “nitro coffee; Updates on Ice Cream - expect savory flavors to permeate the ice cream landscape, Coolhaus serves pastrami ice cream; Housemade Condiments - will infiltrate all areas of the menu, house made mayo, ketchup, hot sauces, etc.; African Flavors - beans and vegetables infused with richly exotic spices; and lastly New Cuts of Meat, which caught my eye.  New cuts?  huh?

It said:
“Creative butchery is resulting in new – and sometimes more economical (it’s a business magazine after all) cuts of beef.  In fact, this was the No. 1 trend cited by chefs surveyed by the NRA (Restaurant Assoc..).  Expect to see shoulder tender, oyster steak, and Vegas strip steak on the menu as chefs push the boundaries of this center – of – the plate staple…

Well, that’s interesting I thought, The Feeder has not heard of any of those steaks.  So I did a little nosing around to find out what they are, and found some interesting stuff on those steaks from various sources:  

 The Shoulder Tender 

A shoulder tender also called beef shoulder petite tender, beef shoulder tender petite roast, bistro filet, rat or teres major steak is a US cut of beef of the teres major muscle from the blade of the shoulder (chuck)”

Hey, I thought, I’ve seen “teres major steak” somewhere.  Sure enough, on the menu of our La Rive Breton, they have carried a “teres major steak” since they opened..So that cut comes from the (lowly) Chuck of the cow





The Oyster Steak

The story on the “Oyster Steak” proved a bit interesting. Turns out it has another name.. and is at the opposite end of the beast in tradtional steak territory..



“This cut is taken from the backbone of the animal, just above the rump. Rarely seen, it's a cut most butchers don't consider worthy of being packaged and marketed. Its other name, spider steak, is in reference to its radiating lines. The steak has a good amount of fat but is pretty tender. Just don't dare to overcook this one as things can get chewy quickly”

One might think that an “oyster” steak would be a hit in SOMD.

The Vegas Strip

And lastly, looking up the “Vegas Strip” was interesting.  I never found the origin of it's name other than maybe marketing value.  I guess same with the more familier New York Strip.   Like the Oyster/Spider steak, the "Vegas" is in the chuck area..



 The story of the steak is somewhat odd.  Apparently there is some guy named Tony Mata

Antonio (Tony) Mata: is a meat scientist, product development specialist and self-proclaimed meat geek. A native of Mexico, he studied at the University of Arizona where he earned his Ph.D. in agricultural biochemistry and nutrition. Dr. Mata has been involved in adding value to the carcass for most of his professional career.

Apparently he is credited with “discovering” the Flat Iron steak, and lately he was given credit for “inventing” the Las Vegas cut: “Dr. Mata’s butchering procedure, since patented, was to trim the bad from the good and yield a tender cut of meat, he ultimately trademarked as The Vegas Strip Steak”  I have a little trouble with somebody patenting a cut of meat or a butchering technique and trademarking the name seems….. something..($$$$)

Despite the (perceived) glory for Dr. Mata "discovering" a steak that had been there as long as there have been beef cattle, there are some dissenting voices:

The "Vegas Strip" has gotten no small amount of attention lately, which I find odd. The new cut is being promoted as the savior of the beef industry, a "cash cow" (haw haw) that will transform the face of American meat-eating. I don't get it. For one thing, it's not new; I was urged by my friends at Creekstone Farms to spread the word about its creation by meat scientist Tony Mata two years ago…. Now, two years, later, it's being presented as some kind of major advance, like the discovery of clay. But basically, it's just a slightly different cut of beef with a flashy name.

Interesting stuff.  Now you're educated on the cutting edge (ha ha) of the steak world.  You always learn something following bunny, er, cattle trails.  Keep your eyes on menus and maybe you can find different from the tiresome, ubiquitous New York Strip or Filet Mignon (and maybe save a few bucks).  I'll be trying the Teres Major at La Rive next time.. 

Reception (not TV)

I was included in a group that went up to Annapolis to represent the Historic St. Mary’s Foundation at a “Legislative Reception” held in the Miller Senate Office Building the State House for the people who control funds that could help the Museum at Historic St. Mary’s City.   The museum brought several “interpreters” along which are always a big hit.


And of course the another draw is free food



It was interesting to learn that our old friend of Ken Upton of Ken’s Creative Kitchen, who caters a lot of our Hospital Gala events also did this one.  I was surprised and pleased when the bar keep recognized me from our recent Gala.  Not sure if that is good or bad..  It was interesting what went on (I mostly listen) in that whole different world.  I was talking with a State Senator from an outlying county who actually knew where we were (St. Mary’s County), but we were interrupted by a young man who confided to the good Senator that he was “able to arm twist another two million out of him”.  Like I said, a whole different world.. A lot of the attendees were “staffers” who apparently make these type of events a food source.   One of our local dignitaries came in with a wake of such people.  Although I am not accomplished at "schmoozing" I did have a couple of interesting conversations.   And you can bet everybody was

DFD