Sunday, September 25, 2016

Grateful to Jerry....



Well, to paraphrase (as I am wont to do, because I’m not clever enough to do it myself) a “Dead” song…

Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange week it's been

One week ago today we were contemplating completing the following trip to Cornwall England (blue lines)



Yellow dots indicate where we would be staying overnight(s) doing kind of a circle from Heathrow

With our usual HSMC traveling companions led by the intrepid Dr. Henry Miller, Director of Research at the City, and managed by the able team from Cole Travel.  This would have kind of complete our “circuit” of places associated with the Calvert’s and clan, who had the charter for establishing St. Mary’s City as the capital of Maryland.  As you can see, it covers the very southwestern end of England, and where the Ark and the Dove departed for the new world.

As usual Henry put together an aggressive tour, with important stops along the way, including the (purported) “King Arthur’s” castle.   We also would have passed by Port Isaac, which is the home of “Doc Martin’s” castle.  A few of us would have had a chance to see the site.

I’m sure you can’t read this without aid, but here’s the itinerary and you get the idea of the completeness




Generally the Cole’s provide a dinner the first (of at least two) nights at each hotel, but there were some nights “on our own” (the little chicken scratches on the side) and of course the Feeder did days of research finding restaurants, and came up with “Grillado” in Salisbury; “@Angelas” in Exeter; and “Hunkydory” in Falmouth. 

As usual MFO (the paragon of efficiency) made her lists of what outfit to wear for what day

And then carefully packed her bag a full week in advance.



The feeder would probably have thrown some stuff in a case today.. 

So, a week ago today (September 18th) we were kind of prepared for our journey (some more than others).

Then life intervened (strange trip it’s been department).  That evening, MFO complained that her Gall Bladder, her rogue organ that has been acting up over the past few months, spoke up and said “hey! what about me?

And while it flared, it usually quieted down in a few hours for a month or so , but it kept shouting all night to the point where we went to the Emergency Department of the Hospital early Monday morning (like 5:15).  I won’t go over the timeline, but by shortly after (no) lunch, the combined medical opinion was that the offending thing should be excised from MFO, which happened Tuesday 

So, with all this, we reluctantly had to inform our travelers that “the Feeder and MFO” would not be accompanying them this time.  The upside to all of this is that it happened “here” instead of “there”..

We wish we could join them, but maybe next time.  Health and body rules all..  take care of it.

And just to put a little food content in here, I was thrilled to see the following in our local supermarket.  I am so thrilled – “Creations?” of a lousy humble jack o’lantern?  Why not celebrate Zucchini?



Anyway duds will come out of suitcases, and believe me we were going to be elegantly

DFD

Bon Voyage, and Bon Appetit...


Friday, September 16, 2016

Here and there...


As we grow older...

Has this ever happened to you?  You decide you need your phone for something important, and reach for it only to find empty space/pocket/clip, whatever you use to attach it to yourself,  and….. it’s empty.. WHERE IS my phone!!??   A room to room search finally turns it up in the bathroom next to the toilet or something.   Yes, you could call it and listen for the ringtone, but that’s something (at least for me) like asking others for directions.  Real men don’t do it.    At any rate, you finally have the cherished phone in hand, and…..you forgot what you wanted it for…  sigh…

Food Section Snippets

We do not subscribe to the WashPo daily edition, but I may have mentioned that a thoughtful neighbor pulls the Wednesday food section and saves it for me.  Usually contains some interesting things in it.  I won’t regurgitate the whole thing, you can do that, but some of the more notable items from the last edition:

Margrit Mondavi passed, at age 91, second wife of Robert. 

Jancis Robinson has published a 112 page “The 24-Hour Wine Expert”, (at a hefty $43 bucks!!) with an aim to provide the basics of wine without all the hype and detail she usually includes in her other works (Oxford Companion to Wine, her World Atlas of Wine (with Hugh Johnson)), etc.   I have not seen it, but the Wine writer for the post likes it.

Beer of the Week:  Blue Mountain Spooky Pumpkin Ale -  God help us.

But what fascinated me most was a piece on, of all things, New London High school cafeteria lunches in New London, Connecticut.  School/institutional lunches have lots of challenges to meet governmental limits on sodium, fats, calories, budgetary restraints, and so on. And we all may have remembrances of glop on a plate.  Not happy.   And so a new chef arrived to take on the job.  One Daniel Giusti.  Not a name familiar to most people (including me).  It listed his previous experience was listed as Chef de Cuisine at….. NOMA, which some readers might recall was considered the greatest restaurant in the world.  He left there to participate in  what has come to be known as “chef activism” and is a member of the “Chef Action Network” a movement which is “engaged at the local level around school lunches and at the national level when it comes to legislation regarding food and nutrition”.  In January, he launched Brigaid, a startup that aims to put professional chefs in public school cafeterias in order to improve their lunches.  He did away with styrofoam, trays, and instead serves up lunch on plates.  

In these days of “celebrity chefs” falling all over themselves to be on Food Network as “stars” and cult heroes, it is gratifying to see somebody trying to make a real difference with food, not bucks.  Good on them.

Distasteful Department (Finally)

I’ve been kind of turning over in my mind whether or not: to include this in the Feeder, and: how to include what I consider a distasteful subject; but in a tasteful manner.  In the end (pun intended, read on) I thought it was so repugnant and in poor taste that I guess I would like to share it.  And, it involves a national publication and a serious subject, so somebody thinks it’s okay, but it sort of grossed me out and incongruous with food… so here goes:

I suppose as a result of subscribing to almost every (important) food publication, I am on some sort of sucker list, and hence I get invitations to subscribe to many food related magazines and newsletters.  Mostly I don’t sign up.   So the other day I get a “complimentary” copy of a slick magazine called “Taste of Home – Best Loved Recipes from Home Cooks Like You”, (me? really?)  and on the cover was some sort of photo of a Four Cheese Rigatoni Bake in a home style casserole dish.  And a sub tile was “Your Best Family Dinners”.   On the bottom of the cover was a highlighted proclamation on a red banner that this was “The #1 Food & Entertaining Magazine in the Entire World”.  Really!  Wonder by whom…  So between that claim, the “B” word appearing twice on the cover, and what seemed to me an attitude of denigration of “home cooks” (dullards, they need simple, easy to make casseroles for dad and the kids), I was ready to head for the recycle bin.

But, out of morbid curiosity I opened the first page.   And there, there, on the left inside cover was a full color, three quarter page close-up of a lady’s derriere, clad in jeans.  Please forgive and understand me when I say that it wasn’t “cute” but rather a full cut posterior, with the words: “Made you look.  And yes, I’m wearing them” superimposed between the left hip pocket to the right one, across the bum. The remainder of the page was an ad for “Always”, a “discreet” garment for (quote): "bladder leaks", and descriptive words of the functionality of the garment not to be repeated here.

Now I suppose these magazines rely on advertising to exist, and with a check, I presume their products could be given accommodation as to placement in the magazine.  But, any respectful editor of a FOOD magazine might have some considerations of what his market might (or might not) would like to see on the inside of the front cover, not to mention a sense of decency.  Maybe it might be okay across from the Page 83 recipes for Antipasto Bake, Ground Beef Taco Dip, and Slow Cooker Artichoke – Spinach Dip, but inside front cover?  Culinary journalism at its best..Completed my trip to the recycle bin.    Thanks..

With that closing, it kind of sheds a (last and unsavory) thought on

DFD

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Stuff for All



Well, a couple of days ago, when I started to pen today's little missive, I didn’t have much food related content, but a couple of days have surfaced some items.  And I began by apologizing to a loyal reader who always takes me to task from straying from food content (although in other quarters the reverse seems to be true), so both camps might enjoy this.

Food related content:

Readers may recall that I have been wondering what was going into the old Lone Star/(original) CoCo’s there on 235 just north of the IHOP.  Recently somebody forwarded me the Alcohol Beverage Board agenda from last May.     In that agenda was the following:

Application of to purchase a Class B (Restaurant) BWL license & t/a Pax River Ale House,
46590 Corporate Dr., Lexington Park, MD 20653.

So just today, I was headed south to Historic St. Mary’s City, and noticed that the “CoCo’s Cantina” sign has been replaced with


Although the choice of “Fine Food” is kind of quizzical to me and the overall use of commas is a bit strained. Do they mean: Fine Food, Fine Ales, and Fine Spirits?

plus they face the time honored task of silk purses and sows ears, as the outside currently looks like



Nonetheless, it will be nice to have another independent (I think) option for local eating/dining/drinking.  I remain leery of that location being able to sustain more than a lunch trade, and featuring alcohol at lunch might be risky. Lone Star and CoCo's couldn't hack it.  Good Luck to them.

Another kind of food related incident for the feeder occurred the other day..  A couple of old, er, long time colleagues invited me to join them for lunch at Elements the other day.   One of them is local, and the other is now based in DC, but would be down here last Thursday and invited me to join them for lunch at noon which I gladly accepted.  Be nice to see them.  Among other things aerospace, we divert ourselves with the unending source of English faux pas and malaprops generated from governmental correspondence.  And in the big world in general.  An Example

Sign on the jetway access at DFW Gate 30: "Door is alarmed."  … about what?

“Civilian awards have always been confusing to me.  In the military, awards were cut and dry”.

“It will remain there in till the 18th of June”

 Can’t make this stuff up.. and it’s great fun. 

Anyway, I was looking forward to seeing them and refreshing conversation.  So I arrived at Elements a few minutes early to find that I was apparently ahead of them.  I was given a table on the porch as they were doing good business at Elements.
A few minutes passed, and I ordered a glass of wine.  More minutes passed and to “cut to the chase”, 35 more left the table looking like this



Resigned to dining alone, I eventually I ordered another glass of wine, and got my stand by lunch choice at Elements, “The Cheese Sandwich”.   It’s a good sandwich.   Upon returning home I established e-contact with my two potential companions, only to find out they had texted cancellations to each other, but not the third party..  Oh well, they owe me.

I do have one more foodie thing, but it is kind of delicate and I need to think about how to present it, for now it is just a tease, and we’ll close out with a few non foodie one (or two) liners:

Diversions:

TV commercial: Cut to race track shot of screamingly fast Indy open wheel racers hurtling around a track and the announcer telling how the tires are good at “over two hundred miles an hour”.  Trailer at the bottom “Professional Drivers on a Closed Track, do not attempt”.   Okay got it.

More TV: have you seen the Gray Goose Dirigible commercial?  really cool. You can find it on UTUBE 


KFC has yet another new Colonel Sanders.  You won’t believe this, new format new approach check this out

Chipotle is going to test out Drone delivery

A friend jabbed me on Facebook today by sharing a recipe for Roasted Corn Relish (not bad, good stuff!) but with Old Bay sprinkled on it.   You know that Old Bay on Anything is wonderful!  Eat it with a spoon people.  And to top it off guess what,  PUMPKIN season is upon us and Pumpkin spice Lattes, beers, you name it will start to assault us.  I have heard that pumpkin is good in pies.

Another commercial, maybe Lexus or Mercedes:   Woman driving along, coffee in one hand, fumbles cup. Cut to close up of coffee sloshing everywhere, woman watches in horror trying to save dress, etc., now cut to outside shot of car screeching to a halt inches from the rear end of the car in front.  She looks up with disbelief and awe.  

Which, got me to wondering... The whole idea of “smart cars” is growing, borrowing technology from the aircraft industry, where there are all sorts of automated “Auto Pilot” stuff.  I doubt that it is very sophisticated.   Are we heading toward a society where drivers (I won’t extend to driverless cars here) have such confidence in their cars “protecting them” from their idiocy that cell phones will come out, makeup will be applied, coffee in one hand, smoke in the other, newpapers will be held if not books, and away we go?   Not to mention that there will be an increase in drunk drivers on the road trusting their vehicles.  Something to ponder.

Okay, enough for today..  time to pour a cocktail and

DFD

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Her and Mine



Well, spent the past couple of days watching Hermine wend her way into and from the gulf, across Florida, up the Coast, pushing water here and there, with Weather Channel folks rocketing around to get blown and wet, and so forth.  Fortunately, it kind of veered out to sea and we had minimal impact.  Wind was the bigger factor, as the seas (well, the Pax River) never got much more than this (although it was a bit rougher than it appears)





Our neighbor’s pier never got threatened



So all in all we did pretty well, and were rewarded this morning with a gorgeous sunrise



It was kind of amusing this morning when it appeared (haven’t checked lately) that the storm surge in New England was not going to be as severe as it first appeared, because of course we are all concerned about New York.  In fact Stephanie Abrams spent a fair amount of time talking about how hard it was to predict weather, variables, etc., all of which maybe to blunt the Weather Channel’s usual sky is falling approach (pun slightly intended).  Anyway, it’s all good.  Hope that’s all the named storms we have to deal with this year..

Silly   

Before we get to more food related things, just a typical Feeder observation about a piece I saw in the Washington Post (Fall Travel Issue) Magazine this morning.  Coffee and Tom Sietsema’s column usually start my Sunday (as an aside he did a Basque place that sounds very good – two and a half stars!).  Anyway, the full page ad of a rocky coastline superimposed over a transparent fuzzy focused rather rugged hirsute millennial in a plaid shirt looking pensive, and over top is a handwriting script that says: “the trip was meant to be a getaway. It brought me back to who I really am” – discover Maine.  what crap. 

Okay checked the non foodie block, which today doesn’t leave much to be explored.

Besides my raft of food magazines, I also get the Holy Grail of wine reviews from Mr. Parker, his “Wine Advocate”



I have subscribed for years watching it grow from a dozen page publication entirely written by Mr. Parker to the mega tome it is today.  I normally don't read the whole thing but is it a nice reference and a good source for keeping up with wineries, their products. I do use his ratings as a general guideline for purchasing, finding them a little more objective that the Wine Spectator which rates everything a wonderful.  Okay, I'm a bit snobby.  Guilty.   It is also a treasure trove for “wine speak”.  For instance I just flipped open to page 38 and randomly looked at the description for (Santa Barbara County) Pali Wine Co 2014 Pinot Noir Huntington ($23.50; 88 points) which is probably just a run of the mill pinot.  
Nevertheless, it boasts: “lots of spice box, cherry jam, licorice and toasted bread aromas and flavors in its medium bodied charming, textured, and  oh so easy drinking profile”.  And mind you there are 124 pages in this issue containing 15 to 20 wines per page.  There must be a word wheel or some software to help them develop those descriptions.  I have never seen, and probably never will see that wine, but these days a 24 dollar Pinot would be considered cheap, or maybe “value priced”.

But, although I got sidetracked there, that wasn’t what I was going to talk about.  If you can read the “in this issue” box above, most of the issue is devoted to new releases, but it also mentions includes "Spottswoode: A Vertical Tasting" on pages 6 – 9.  Vertical tastings refer to tasting a single wineries wines chronologically.  Spottswoode has become one of the most revered producers of Cab in Napa, and maybe you can read about it in his introduction. 



The Vertical tasting was split into five sections reflecting regimes of various winemakers and he tasted all 33 vintages from 1982 through 2014, and did a fairly detailed description of each (see winespeak comment above).  Note that the 80’s and early '90's are all under $40, with ratings in the upper eighties with the ’91 garnering 96 points.  As the years passed, both the quality and prices seemed to escalate.  The 2002 release was the first to rate a Parker 100 points, but still sold for “only” $110.   The latest releases (2011 through 2014, under Aron Weinkauf) are all over $150.  The 2014 he tasted had only been in the bottle two weeks, "showed promise" ($185/95+) and would last 30 – 35 years.  Interesting reading…what a world.  I’ll probably never taste them.

what's where..


And back to locally, have heard that what is going into the old Lone Star/CoCo’s place in Lexington Park is some sort of Pub or Ale House.  They don’t show up in this month’s agenda of the Alcohol Control Board.  I should go to one of those meetings sometime.   at least you don't have to be

DFD

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Harry Revisit


Well, if this gets published today (31 August 2016) it will mark the 53rd year that MFO and I have been married!  As I often say, where does that time go.  Amazing.. 

On another note, I think I have mentioned that we are leaving for Cornwall on the 26th of September.  Beginning to ramp up activity toward departing, like building lists of clothes, gear, restaurants, etc.  Part of the usual build up is to refresh the Feeder’s wardrobe.   So that engendered a trip up to Annapolis to help Nordstrom’s keep solvent.  Over the years we have gotten to know the manager of “Men’s Furnishings” to the point where we let her know what I’m interested in, and then she gathers stuff and lays it out for us to see when we get there.  Wouldn’t go so far as to say “personal shopper”, but it kind of works out that way.   On our way there, we saw one of the burgeoning number of “food trucks” parked by the road near two and west street





So our usual agenda is to go to Nordstrom’s and then go have a civilized lunch at Harry Browne’s.   I know we’re not top shelf people, but we do enjoy Nordstrom’s.  It is such a nice place to shop.   I kind of draw a mental parallel to “Selfridge” and the blossoming of personal service.  So from the options displayed for us, we selected a few pairs of trousers, a couple of shirts, a tie or two.  Some of the trousers required tailoring (too many lunches at Harry Browne’s), and she said they would ship them to us when they were done.. nice.

So after the red carpet treatment (in my own little demented mind) we got in the Momster and headed for historic Annapolis.  Any of you who have been there for anything know that parking is a nightmare, especially with a land yacht such as the Momster.   Instead of driving around looking for a vacant slot (which is about twenty five cents per fifteen minutes) we have taken to going to the parking garage on West Street, not far from the Ram’s Head and St. Anne’s church.    Harry’s is located on State Circle that encloses the State House, so it is a bit of a hike from the garage to the restaurant.  Unfortunately HB’s doesn’t offer valet parking during lunch, so we had to walk.   Our route takes us past the Governor’s mansion and State House, and as we were just at the State House, men in suits came out flanking the good Governor.   Surprisingly he didn’t stop and chat. 

So we finally got to the restaurant (past their catering truck)



a little damp and bushed.  There were a few diners (apparently mad dogs or Englishmen) eating outside and only a few (two) tables inside (was about 1:15 at this point).  Once inside, it was cool, quiet, and shady and I requested one of the tables “at the back” that we enjoy and were given one of the two tables back there.




The other table was occupied by two women sharing dessert, and we couldn’t avoid overhearing conversations about “I’ll have the committee look into that, you contact so and so..” and other palaver which we read as political.  Power stuff.   Anyhow, after they left we were on our own to enjoy the atmosphere and the elegant chandeliers and ceiling



There is a story about the chandeliers, they came off of, or are replicas of ones on some famous vessel, but I can’t remember which one.

Before we go further, a little diversion into restaurant philosophy (at least according to the Feeder):  When a place climbs near the top of whatever list, there are a few expectations.  One of the reasons we return to HB’s is that we know we are going enjoy the ambiance, get great food, and enjoy the service.  I know there are other excellent restaurants in Annapolis  (Carroll’s Creek Café; Café Normandy; Vin 909; Level), but it’s the old “roll the dice or go where….”  decision, and we generally opt for the “go where you know…”.    Well this trip to HB’s contained the first little chink in my estimation of them.  It was in the third of the holy trinity of food, setting, and service.  See for example my 2014 experience, and I quote: server’s first words: 

“I’ll bet you would like a drink”.  No silliness, just that.  Yes, why yes, I believe I would.  Given the time of day and the sixty miles between us an home, I opted for wine.  He said a complimentary glass of wine, champagne, or Mimosa came with each entrée order.  I asked for a chardonnay, and MFO a Sauvignon Blanc.  I asked if they were house wines.  His reply was: “I think I can do a little better than that”.  I ended up with a very nice glass of Talbott Kali Hart, and MFO’s a Ponga New Zealand.  Upon delivery, he said I’ll let you wind down a little bit and left.  No “are you ready to order?”,  just a courteous departure
- the bottom feeder, August 2014

This time it was: “Good (sic) evening, I’m Wes, and ……of you”,  at least there was no “you guys”.  While I would expect this at a chain, I would hope not HB’s.   I will admit the next phrase was if we would like something to drink.   MFO selected from the little card with five dollar wines per glass (which are not bad) and I wanted to avoid any missteps (bad on my part) and  a Gray Goose martini up with a twist.. Perhaps the walk in the heat in my DFD Blazer made me a bit edgy.

At any rate the lovely drink did appear with a healthy pour of a white Côtes du Rhône



And concurrent with drinks appearing, despite the fact the menus were untouched where Wes left them, he asked if we were ready to order.  Chink two.  No thanks, we would like to enjoy our drinks a bit first.  He then related the specials (well, okay) and left.   We did peruse the menu after a sipping for a while, and nothing leapt off the page.  Heat and Burgers or Brisket Sandwiches don’t particularly tempt on a hot day, Spicy Sausage Panini? likewise.  So upon Wes’s third request (and mindful we had miles to go) I decided on the omelet of the day (bacon and cheddar with sautéed peppers – nothing special) with a house salad and MFO got the: Annapolitan Flatbread:  Crabmeat, Spinach, Caramelized Onions,Bacon, White Crab Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese.  




The food was quite good, although my house salad was a bit soggy.  We did split a dessert of a lemon curd cheese cake with two forks.  It was quite good.  Although what i assumed was a bread plate remained empty on the table from start to finish, we never did see any bread



We finally left, and I was disappointed that I was somewhat disappointed.   For the first time, we were given a reason to be disappointed.  Please don’t get me wrong, we certainly will go back but finding a little crack in what we always considered flawless was unsettling.  Maybe the combination of the late lunch hour (we were the only occupants), and the heat.  But, however, comma, we both were certainly

DFD