Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stringers, tomatoes, and a virtual trip to Florence



Nobody ever accused the Feeder of not being diverse.     Where are you going to find a combo like this??

Stringer Report: (sic) hazelnut kitchen

Normally, the Feeder doesn’t relate stringer reports but got one the other day worth passing along since it has kind of a “local” hook, and is from a trusted source!.   Probably a little known (and useless, as they say) fact is that MFO was NOT born in Michigan (like me), but is in fact from the Empire State, specifically Ithaca in the Finger Lake region.  She came along while her father was earning his MS Degree (in automotive engineering) at Cornell University.  At the time, they didn’t offer a Doctorate in that field, which motivated him to migrate to the Wolverine State and Michigan State University (or Michigan State College then – aka Cow College) where he did get his PhD, and eventually became dean of the department of Mechanical Engineering.

A mildly amusing side note: her Father, being an automotive guy, could take apart a transmission blindfolded behind his back and reassemble it with one hand.   So his daughter marries this guy who could only change a tire with lots of help.  Take apart a generator, rewind it and put it back together?   Piece of cake for him, beyond the reach here. 10WF40 Beam?  I'm all over that!

But, I digress as I often do.  We have some good friends here in Pax with whom we often enjoy dinner, and they have educated palates so we commiserate on the state of dining here in SOMD.  Anyway, they took a little vacation and were going to Ithaca so we related above and they said they would report on their travels.   Well, last Friday a few food pictures pop into my phone from a storefront restaurant: “hazelnut kitchen” which was rated by the New York Times,  in Trumansburg, a little hike northwest of Ithaca.




It’s run by a young couple and is of course on the trendy bandwagon of:

we have been using locally sourced farm ingredients in a casually elegant open kitchen dining atmosphere…Our menu changes frequently, inspired by what’s in season and reflects our commitment to utilize goods obtained from local farmers and producers”; 

which of course is fine and proper, you just kind of tire of hearing about it.

At any rate they turned out very good food, beginning with a lovely cheese board 
(is that a Laguiole (la -yol) knife?)

They settled on main courses of Halibut on Spinach for her, 


 See any drips or smears?  Nope - pretty

And for him, the choice was the entrée selection of “Surprise me” or as they say more formally on the menu: “enjoy a thoughtfully designed entrée by our chef”, an interesting concept, which in this case resulted in a delicious cherry encrusted chicken over summer vegetables



The restaurant also features an “open kitchen”




Thanks to our friends for sharing their experience (and the images), and we’ll keep it on our list in case MFO ever wants to return to her roots.

Speaking of local…

One of our neighbors is an avid gardener, producing loads (and loads) of fresh produce which she is happy to share with us.  Over the years, we have stemmed the tide of zucchini’s and eggplants (we’re weird) but gratefully accept cukes (to a point), spring onions, and of course love apples.



MFO made tuna salad last night, and served it with the sliced fresh “maters” and lettuce, with a dusting of smoked paprika and sprinkling of Panko crumbs.  Very nice



Isn’t it amazing that the rich red (or yellow) color is all the way to the core instead of tough, thick white stuff just inside the gas ripened exterior of the food chains?

Share locally!

The Project

“Project Negroni” is moving along.   As you recall I was intrigued by a recipe for a "white Negroni" from the WashPost (which I included in the last posting: Docs and Drinks), but had zero of the ingredients.   Well, a trip to my trusty purveyor of spirits, and a visit to Amazon (Prime) for the bitters, resulted in the assemblage of the necessary “stuff”.



My only holdup at this point is that the Junipero Gin weighs in at an eye watering 98.6 proof!  One drink and you’re done!  So I have asked my contact at the liquor store if there is a lower proof edition.  I swear I had one once, but it was a while ago.  

That question led me to go to the world wide web and try to figure it out.  Appears Anchor Distillery (producer) may have changed the options recently.  So I’m on hold…

While I was researching the issue I ran across the site: ginfoundry dot com, and clicked on the “Gin” link.  You can too!  Alert readers will recall that I have taken to asking servers “what gins do you have?” and occasionally finding some variation from the (borrowed from the culinary) holy trinity: Tanqueray, Bombay, and Beefeater.  Green hat, Bluecoat, and occasionally others show up, and pretty routinely Hendrick’s (not my fav) is finding its way on the shelf.   Anyway, if you click on the link above you will be (as I was) astounded at the two hundred eight! (count ‘em, 208) varieties of gin.   Wowsers!  An Around the World effort would take you the rest of your life.  Not to mention putting you on your butt every night.

Anyway once I solve the proof issue we’ll make the drink.  Incidentally, it ain’t going to be cheap.   The higher proof variety of Junipero is $32; the Luxardo Bitter Bianco is $27 the (everyday) Vermouth is about 14 bucks and the Fee Bros. Celery Bitters (which will be a lifetime supply) was 15 dollars American, so we’re nearing ninety dollars’ worth of ingredients.    And what if after using about 4 % of each bottle for one drink you say:  Ptooie!

Stay tuned and

DFD





Thursday, July 13, 2017

Docs and Drinks...



Over the years, we have grown (older and) less and less willing to venture north to the Nation’s Capital despite the fact that it isn’t that far, and a very good friend lives there.  Like international travel, the process of getting there now overcomes the benefit of being there.  Yes, there are wonderful restaurants, museums, shops, galleries, and so forth, in DC, but there is also traffic, rude (IMHO) drivers, one way streets (always the other way than the way you want to go), zero parking places, etc., etc..   But sometimes you have no choice like last Monday when we visited MedStar (I have to say that) Georgetown Hospital.  A local doctor thought it might be wise to take a closer look at MFO’s upper GI tract and further that she (the Doc) thought it best to do it at GT rather than here.

So, armed with maps, GPS directions, and real time Nav equipment we struck out.  As most folks probably know, to get to GT from the southeast, you more or less have to go diagonally across DC.   The trip up (we always choose Route 4 through Calvert instead of 5 and bore in on Pennsylvania avenue) was as expected although the time tested rule held true that the speed of other drivers is inversely proportional to the distance from DC.  So we got to the other side of the mall by our own dead reckoning and then turned on the nav system who promptly wanted us to “make a legal U turn” and the blue line indicated that it would lead to a Virginia approach.  With helpful advice from the driver (MFO) like “do I turn here or not!!!???) we finally fumbled onto M street and went by the end of the Key Bridge and then north to Reservoir Rd., and eventually into Entrance Two of the huge complex.  Mercifully there was valet parking and we were able to exit right at the entrance.

It’s always interesting to visit a megalith medical facility, dozens of people in varying colored "scrub garb" scurrying about, often carrying a clipboard, scholarly looking doctors with a stethoscope around their necks, and bewildered patients like us.  We finally got to the right office (“down the hall, turn right, then left, take the elevator to the 2nd floor, turn right, go down the hall to the end, and the first door on the right will be the Gastroenterology Office).  We got there, did the check-in ritual and settled in. The rest of the day went well (including the medical side) and I only had to cool my heels in the waiting room



for or a little over three hours.   There was a TV for the people similarly imprisoned which presented a seemingly endless series of pre-recorded canned talk shows like Steve Harvey (“so what are you having for Thanksgiving this year?”) which droned on and on without my slightest bit of attention.  But see that flatscreen on the right?  It was a pretty ingenious device to allow you to track the progress of your patient.


Part of the check-in procedure (besides the requisite bracelets) was to assign each patient a number. Then on the screen the color of the box around your loved one’s number indicated where in the 14 Step (!) process (key below the screen) they were.  MFO slowly changed colors until I was notified to go to the elevators and wait for somebody to come and get me which they did.   A bit more sitting with her, a short consult with the doc (all is well). And we were done.

Somehow the exit from the big city went easier than the entrance and we got to Wisconsin Ave., then back on M, over to Pennsylvania (passing by the old Kinkead’s) and sitting in traffic until we got to Rte 4 again and joined the Grand Prix to Southern Maryland. 

Fortunately, we got to the digs just in time for Cocktail Hour, and although MFO couldn’t partake, I certainly did.

Speaking of cocktails it provides nice segue

into the real reason for this post.   There are certain cocktails/drinks that are linked to a specific location, like Sazarac’s and New Orleans, Julips (or bourbon) in Kentucky, Manhattan’s in NYC, Champagne and Paris, Mojitos in South Beach, and so forth.   They may be consumed elsewhere but trace their lineage back to a certain place.  One of those drinks is a Negroni, which is kind of synonymous with Florence, Italy.  Kind of thought of (and pushed as) a sophisticated drink, and indeed one site asked us:

Want to impress your date? Order a Negroni. Want to impress your boss? Order a Negroni. Want to impress the bartender? You know what to do.
It’s the only drink to order these days if you want to: a) Tell everyone around you that you’re smart, savvy and sophisticated, and b) Enjoy one of the very best tipples you ever did siponly drink to order these days if you want to: a) Tell everyone around you that you’re smart, savvy and sophisticated, and b) Enjoy one of the very best tipples you ever did sip.

The “Classic” recipe is equal parts of Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin. Boom!  I generally stay away from drinks with sweet vermouth, so don’t think I ever had one.  But,an article in the “spirits” column of a recent Food Section of the Washington Post caught my eye.  Was entitled: “Sometimes a Riff on a Classic gets it Just Right”.  And while I really don’t like the term “riff”” applied in the culinary world, regular readers will know “just right” is dear to my heart.  The article sort of followed the author’s trip to Florence, so naturally Negroni got involved.  Blah, blah, but eventually got around to a couple of variations on the classic.



And because I am always attracted to crystal clear drinks (“you first eat (drink) with your eyes”), I decided to make one



Whoa!  The only ingredients I have is the white vermouth and the ice, and my cubes are not one of those trendy “large” variety.

So, we’ll suspend the saga here while I wait for various purveyors to special order stuff for me.  I have had the Junipero gin in the past, but it’s not in the Feeder’s liquor cabinet at the moment.  Never had the Bitter Bianco, it seems to be a relatively new entrant into the market.  Celery Bitters?  Huh?  I made a stop at Elements (Eatery and Mixology) and although they have the best selection of bitters (and hot sauces) around,


Celery wasn’t one of them.  So, that too is on order.

So, we both have to wait for the next chapter.  Meanwhile I’ll be having my plebian Dry Manhattan

And I have in the hopper an evolving wine adventure..  stay tuned for that as well.   

So off you go to your own “poison” and then

DFD




Saturday, July 8, 2017

Another Mac to Consider


 First, I’ve had at least one reader agree with me that having the 4th on the 4th is dumb.  We’re not alone.  Check this out if you have (interest) and a few seconds.
  
Anyway we finally endured the “longest” day and enjoyed the Solomon’s fireworks which I thought were the best in years.

I suppose I should work "test kitchen" in here somehow, very trendy these days

So thought I’d stray from the recent “this and that” stuff to share a small out and out food topic/story.  One of our guilty pleasures here at the digs when we don’t turn out 5 star meals (never) is to have a quick meal of Macaroni and Cheese from a box.  Our gold standard has always been Kraft Deluxe (has to be the Deluxe line, it has a sauce pouch, not powdered) and mostly the “Original Cheddar” although we also enjoy the “Four Cheese” variety once in a while.  We usually pair this with some sort of sausage, usually Bob Evan’s regular (sometimes “hot”) in the bulk pack so we can slice it ourselves.   We have tried other brands of boxed product like “Annie’s Shells and Real Aged Cheddar” and keep coming back to good old Kraft.  Cheesy, creamy and properly gooey.   Oven bake the sausage, mostly almost crispy.

Anyway, MFO spotted another new (?) entry in the boxed Mac N’ Cheese market and brought it home, and since we still had some of the Father’s Day FOJTE sausage we paired it up for a comfort dinner.




At this point I should quickly point out that "Cracker Barrel" does NOT refer to the (chain) restaurant of same name, rather a brand of cheese products under the Kraft umbrella.  We sometimes enjoy their (cheddar varieties) cheeses for cocktail time, although there are certainly more exotic ones out there.

Anyway, upon opening the pouch you get quite a number of ingredients, plus they ask you to supply your own fresh milk and butter.



And the two little packets (reminiscent of the Blue Apron “knick knacks”) of bread crumbs and “special seasonings”.


The variety we used is the is “oven baked” product, although Cracker Barrel does offer “Classic” in the box, and both have various permutations on the cheese (Sharp, Cheddar with bacon, etc.,).


Anyway the cooked pasta is combined with all the “stuff” in a casserole, topped with the bread crumbs, and ready for the oven:

And finally plated for our dinner



I’m not sure we’ll replace the Kraft Deluxe box for this product, but it was quite tasty.  Did the “extra’s” push it over the edge?  Not really, the bread crumbs are kind of a nice touch, but might fall in the lipstick on the pig category.  The sausage was noticeably better than Bob Evans which couldn’t measure up to the Berger’s sausage.  nice meal.  Cutting edge culinary adventures….

A quick comment I couldn’t resist:

I’m watching Wimbledon as I finish this, and just saw a really (to me) nauseating commercial.   You might remember I went off the other day on the practice of marketing your product by selling the experience (“Love – it’s what makes a Subaru”).  The other product that is pushing (and now IMHO crossed) the boundary is Zillow, a real estate company.   Well, they’re not selling houses, they’re selling “where you’ll live the rest of your life”..  the latest entry shows Dad talking to young Son, sort of comforting him because Mom is no longer with us.  So they are in this presumably recent acquired edifice (free, i'm sure) with a skylight in the kid’s bedroom, and after Dad tucks him in his beddy bye, says good night and leaves, the kid looks out the skylight and says to the brightest star “night Mommy”.   Am I just a curmudgeon or is this repugnant..

Oh and back to the M&C, I am not sure how to be

DFD




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Starz 'n Stripes!




Reluctant Patriotism:

I dislike July the Fourth..  in some ways.   Primarily in that if you would like to enjoy fireworks, you have to wait until well after sundown..  According to my intelligent phone, that occurs today at 8:33 pm, which is approximately five hours from (as I write) now, and six hours away from the scheduled fireworks show.  To be sure, we have an excellent view and enjoy the show.  And as usual we’ve invited some friends to join us.  Problem is, what the heck are we going to do for six more hours?  We’ve finished the obligatory cleaning campaign stem to stern, so everything is pretty much in readiness, except the fireworks.   One is loath to start into cocktails as it might result in less than an enjoyable evening (where's the Feeder?) since the enjoyment will no doubt include adult beverages.   Not only that, but today is Tuesday (yup, just checked) so many people have to go to work tomorrow.  Why can’t we have July the Fourth on the Friday closest to the date?  Huh? Why not?

Yet Another Buffet Dinner
There hasn’t been much of real note since the last edition, but a few things of casual interest.  One of the civic associations that I belong to had its “Charter Night” event which marks the end of our fiscal year, and also the changing of club officers.  Normally I would submit you to another Bailey’s event, but we went to a new venue this year, the Harry Lundeberg installation down on Piney Point




 

It’s a nice facility, maybe you’ve been there and know it is affliated the Seafarers International Union and used as a vocational school dedicated to preparing students for successful careers as U.S. merchant mariners. The School has been training individuals for careers at sea since 1967. The SHLSS provides entry-level training for individuals who wish to begin a seafaring career. 

It's a pleasant venue



And is rather like a large hotel, or in this case a Cruise Ship Dining room, and there are people training to be servers (and I think culinary jobs of all sorts).   The tables were nicely set



And on our club’s budget, we got yet another buffet.



And, since I brought up Bailey’s, the comparison is inevitable for the Feeder.  There were some similarities, but I would have to say that this food was a (sizable) cut above the usual at Olde Breton Inn rote standard selections… the menu included Chicken Marsala, Shrimp Creole, and the old standby Prime Rib.   Although, unlike OBI and Bailey, they elected to not have a haunch at the end of the table, but rather (machine made) slices in the pan.



If you wanted other than “medium” you kind of had to poke around in the pan, and find some slices leaning toward the pinker side.  After a trip through the line, my plate looked like


I did skip the starch and vegetables, sorry healthy friends. 

It was tasty enough, I thought the Shrimp were the best of the batch, followed by the Chicken, and the Beef was okay, a little shy on flavor.

Service was very good, all the students were eager to please and very courteous.  Anyway, it was something different for the feeder, and dinner was followed by the requisite “Speechifyin’”

Another Dinner..
Before leaving the food side, we did join some friends for dinner at the Dry Dock last Sunday night.  We had reserved our party of four and were promised table 4 or 5 (discerning readers take note).  We arrived first, and upon entering noticed all the window tables were full, including our expected destination.   After inquiring, we were told “there was a mix-up” and all that was available was Table 2, which is the one in the far corner that is on the path from the kitchen to the porch (avoid if you possibly can).  They were quite busy that evening so we got to see every dish headed for the porch, preceded by a kicked open door.  There also appeared to be no “manager” on duty to whom I would have spoken (as I know most of them).  At the time, nothing was to be done, but I would expect better from the Dry Dock.  And while I’m poking our favorite restaurant a bit, I’ll mention they continue to offer special dishes like “Roasted Sea Bass with mashed potatoes”.   I don’t much understand that combination, light with heavy? Not much harmony.  They were (mercifully) out of that dish and so I had the Special of pan roasted Halibut with lemon risotto.  Much better, however in reality I would have preferred the risotto to be a bit less dense (use your imagination here).  Good conversation with good friends. 

Meteorology

You may remember that last Saturday there was some severe weather in the area.  One of the many pleasures of being able to live on the water is to observe said weather (which can be good or bad).  There was a particularly interesting cloud formation



Breakfast

For my Father’s day, FOJTE gave us a gift box with a selection of Sausages, force meats, and bacon.  Okay, okay, I’ll eat some kale along the way..  Anyway last Sunday MFO prepared a very nice breakfast for us



She has become fairly accomplished at “over easy”, a feat of which I am no master.  Usually my attempts result in poorly scrambled eggs.  And, with a nod to good health, we cooked the Berger’s bacon a little more done that most might, so the fat was a bit reduced.   Nothing like a good breakfast.  And, for good measure, the Washington Post had an article on the “beat generation” note the (historical) picture of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. History to some, reality to us..

I don’t think Allen Ginsberg and friends worried about
DFD


Update: only three hours till sunset!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Inside Stuff...


A peek behind the curtain… while it appears that the brilliant stuff that appears here just flows from the Feeder’s brain, the sad truth is that particular organ is showing effects of age (where are those keys?) and I have taken to be a “lister” making notes that are on sticky’s which are affixed to doors mirrors etc.   “Take out the trash; meeting at noon today” stuff like that.  And that carries over to constructing the blog.  How many times have I hit “Publish” only to remember that I wanted to say such and such (an example will appear under the Mexican Restaurants entry below.

So to combat this, I leave a little pad about and make notes of stuff I want to yak about.. It usually is in the vicinity of the laptop (with a reminder of things of the past)




So today we’ll just work our way down the list.

Phishing/Laptop

Technology always gets you.

Phishing:  the other day, MFO and I decided to try the new hot dog place up in San Souci for dinner, so I suggested she go to the website to look at the menu.  Immediately after clicking “website” on the google screen for the place we were greeted with



From “Windows Defender Alert”, and you could not close the screen by clicking the “x” or close window.  Well, that smelled kind of funny (figure of speech) but still it gives you pause for thought.  So instead of calling Microsoft Technical Department I called our IT guy who was in the area and came over and verified it was indeed a Phishing hoax, brand new apparently.  He said if you actually called they would want you to give them some Bitcoin to “fix” it.   I suppose people fall for it.  Amazing

Laptop: “accepted” the repeated “suggestions” to install Windows Creator 10 (Beware!!) on both the laptop and the desktop.   Seemed to go okay, except that the laptop slowed to a crawl.  A minute to open Word, 10 minutes to boot up, typing ahead of yourself, and so forth.  Again a housecall from the IT guy, who said the hard disk sounded like an “espresso machine” and would most likely need to be replaced. He took the machine back to the shop where he performed a “checkdisk” operation, where it found several sectors were damaged and were repaired.  No need for an investment.  Now it hums along. 

Shadow Box

A very nice (late) Father’s Day story.  One of my father’s passions was fishing.  Since we lived in Michigan where catfish were considered trash fish and the rainbow, speckled, and brown trout ruled the streams such as the (legendary) Au Sable in the upper lower peninsula.  Opening day of the season would find him in crisp white shirt, black bow tie, waders and hand tied flies for the fly rod in the middle of the stream..  DFT?(Trout?).  He would also take trips to Canada for Lake Trout, Northern Pike and so forth.  So over the years, he amassed a fairly large amount of equipment and tackle.   It wound up in our basement, and has languished there for years.   MFO has recently (I think I posted about this) taken to organizing all Dad’s “stuff” from the fishing gear to the official records and photographs from his WWI experiences (wounded in France) and so forth.  In fact, she has contacted various WWI museums and some are interested.  Stay tuned.   Anyway, on Father’s day last, she brought a rather large wrapped package out for cocktails (our traditional time for exchanging and opening gifts).  Upon opening it, I found a beautiful display of some of my father’s cherished lures and tackle.  Do you know which is a Daredevil?   A Rapala minnow? a Flatfish?



The little document at the right is MY fishing license from when we still lived in Michigan.  I’m sure Dad was looking down and smiling, dreaming of may fly hatches on the river.  Quite touching.  MFO is a treasure…

Okay, we’ll pick up the pace now with some (nearly) one-liners:

New Phone: I traded in my aging SamSung Note 4 on a Google Pixel XL.   Quite a nice instrument, and getting into the Google world is a good thing.  As part of the deal I got a free Google home assistant.   More later

Google Doodle: some nice ones lately

Mexican Restaurants:   I find out that Plaza Tolteca and Los Guayabos are co-owned, hence the word for word description of dishes on their respective menus.  And my memory jogger referred to above was that besides noting the absence of Chiles Relleños, on the menus, “Street Food” shows up as a category of dishes.

Steve Harvey: a complete idiot.  In the same league as Matt Lauer

Rachel Ray:  somehow it does my heart good to see she is now selling her own brand of dog food.

On Star:  MFO is on the road, and somehow her phone goofed up and would not articulate the driving directions through the Bluetooth.   Although we have paid for it for years, yesterday made it all worthwhile.

Well, that kinds of cleans out the list.  Riveting stuff, eh?  I’ll have more interesting things (IMHO) coming up.

Historic St. Mary’s City Beer Fest 2017 tomorrow.

And I’ll be there giving out beer glasses:




DFB(eer)