Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Looking Back



The FOJTE’s arrive today, so this will be brief before the fun begins.  And not really much more than revisiting subjects covered earlier (year).

I probably used the same words before, but they bear repeating.  As you may know, Tom Sietsema (one of my Gurus) the quite famous food critic for the Washington Post publishes a weekly restaurant review in the Sunday Magazine.   Recently he gave the Silver Diner no stars, and Founding Farmers (a previous two or three) barely one.  Anyway, every once in a while he composes a column based on readers input and his on-line chat.  This week, he penned a column entitled: “When the Greeting is eating at the diner”.  And guess what?  He says:  “judging from reader feedback, the leading culprit is the use of “you guys” in mixed company”.  Now alert readers will remember that the Feeder regularly complains about this..  Tom quotes a reader:  “My mother-in-law used to cringe when addressed as “you guys”.  She politely, with some humor asks servers if they thought she was a male”.  He does admit that “Merriam Webster says that “guys” embraces members of a group regardless of sex.  But plenty of my readers let me know they don’t care for the phrase, or its ilk”.  

He gives another couple of samples (somebody got called: “sport”!). He concludes with the observation that people shouldn’t get too worked up about what specific words a waiter uses to address them, as long as the waiter is (not overly) friendly and attentive.  He recommends the most PC greeting of all may be, depending on the time of day, “Good Morning,  “Good afternoon” or “Good evening" ….full stop.  In my case I would append “may I get you a drink”. So it does my heart good to see the pros get bugged by the same crap I do.  I am not so dumb.  He didn’t mention the recorded “Hi, I’m  …. Taking care of you” speech however.

Another thing that does my heart good is when readers take the time to share their experience or thoughts on some place.  I really enjoy that, because one: it lets me know somebody actually reads this, and two: sometimes it is really neat.  My innocent little picture of the Steak in a Sack sign led to finding out it is almost an institution. One reader recalled her (now) husband’s formative years in DC, when he was a duckpin devotee in the mid-sixties, and would bowl almost every night, “and Friday and Saturday nights and his buddies would bowl at various bowling alleys throughout the region:  White Oak, Twin Brook, Glenmont, Suitland, Silver Hill, Marlow Heights.  Even Curly's in Waldorf that had 8 lanes upstairs.  That one was hard to get into, because it was small and popular.  They would start at 8 or 9 p.m. and would bowl till the bowling alley kicked them out at 2 a.m.,  and they would head out to Steak in a Sack.  They would have steak and cheese, stuffed into a bread pocket, with beer or sodas.  There were no tables, just one long counter.  They would stay till Steak in a Sack closed and wouldn't get home 'till 5 a.m. on bowling weekends.”  How cool is that?  Hey you county folk, ever heard of Curly’s?

And as you recall, that remark about steak and cheese in a bread pocket led to the UTube thing on Philly Cheese Steaks (Pats/Geno’s).  More feedback from readers:

A former colleague who moved back to STL recalls a conversation with somebody who currently lives in Philly:
”….one of the discussions centered around how he found the best cheese steak in the Philly area.  His conclusion based on input from everyone he knew in Philly came down to, or at least it appeared to him to be, everyone considered the best to be from whatever cheese steak stand was closest to their house.  They didn’t view it that way, but after running all over the area the correlation was clear to him.  Not very useful info, but he later backed it up by noting the propensity of Philly residents to remain for life in specific neighborhoods and not consider moving for ANY reason” Folks from STL are familiar with that life style!

Another from a lady (who covers more territory in a single day than many women I know) who lived in Philly for about 10 years, replied that her favorite was neither of the “famous” ones who live on tourists, but she likes   Jim’s Steaks on 4th and South Street, and Tony Luke’s at 2nd and Oregon.  She also echoed the fact that Pat’s chops the steak and Geno’s leaves it flat, “like a steak-um (yuck)”

Not exactly cheese steak weather, more like a salad, but what a neat discussion.  Thanks to the contributors!

Not sure what form cheese steak

DFD is…






Thursday, July 14, 2016

That and This...


Just a quick Thursday (14 July) update of this and that…

One of the "unknown buildings" at shady mile and Rte. 235 is the “relocated” Pearl Vision, which will be/was razed and moved over to the other side of three notch road just south of the Barrel of Crackers.  Don’t know what the second building (behind it).  At least it isn’t a quick service chain.

One of the things I should do more often is to check the agenda of the St. Mary's County Alcohol Beverage Board which meets monthly.  I am pretty sure the meetings are open to the public, so I should probably attend one.  Could be illuminating.  Stuff on the agenda for today’s (7/14) session:

Transfer of Kevin’s Corner Kafe license from the “old” location to the “new” one in the Willows.  Time will tell if this is a good move.  Bold move. 

Transfer of “old” Café Des Artistes liquor license to La Rive Breton and Mr. Brian Wilson.  Word was that this was the last delay in opening, and so I would look for the place to open very soon.

Leonardtown Cigars which is down in the Shopping Center at Compton Road and rte 5, applies for a liquor license.  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and have a drink.  Maybe Port or Cognac.

A new one:  Urban Bar-B-Que will apparently be opening in the new/old Winegardner “used car” building, next to the (currently) flagged Dunkin Donut’s close to 235/Hollywood Leonardtown Road.  They’re getting a liquor license.  When I first saw this, I thought “well, at least it isn’t a chain and might be local”.  Well guess what?  (Link)  it IS a chain.  which touts itself as; “Urban Bar-B-Que is Handcrafted, Authentic, Slow Smoked Bar-B-Que. Our dedication and Hard Work honor the different styles of Bar-B-Que found throughout the United States under one roof. We are the Real Deal” or at least the real deal in one of the 13 locations in the mid Atlantic currently listed (Leonardtown, MD: COMING SOON!)  Waldorfization moving to Leonardtown.   Sigh, what’s next.

And an addendum, thanks to an eagle eyed reader, who noted “Since 1982” on the “Steak in a Sack” sign.  Phone suffers from enhanced enlargement, but there it is (just below the "a SACK" part):


Hmmm, I thought.   A bit of sleuthing revealed that there used to be one on Branch Avenue/Route 5 north of the beltway in the Marlow Heights Shopping Center.  It WAS definatly local:  “One of Marlow Heights' long-time institutions, the Steak in a Sack, located in the Marlow Heights Shopping Center, caught fire on February 19, hours after the restaurant had closed for the day. The restaurant, open and owned since 1962 by the ###### family, sustained significant fire damage, as well as collateral damage from fire rescue efforts.”  So it appears that the place does have a history, and will be re-opening in Charlotte Hall.   A little bit of further checking looks like they have sort of a Cheese Steak product.  Be worth while checking them out.

Lagniappe; 

And in the course of poking around about SIAS, as usual you find yourself miles away from your original intent, and I wound up in UTUBE and a little piece about cheese steaks, comparing the commonly thought of paragon of Philly Cheese Steaks, Pat’s and Geno’s.  (with my apologies to BEB who says neither are the best).  Maybe worth a look see for entertainment purposes.

DFD



Monday, July 11, 2016

Richard the Third..



To paraphrase Dick, this is the summer of (at least my) discontent.  Although the cataract surgery is over and I’ve completed my visits to the doc (for three months) with glowing results I still find I have some issues going back and forth between close and far vision which results in stability issues.  So, I have been limiting my close up work, such as writing a blog.   And, hopefully this will be the last time I will indulge in self pity.  So, a few brief food restaurant snippets..

Kevin’s Corner Kafe (sic) seems to be headed for the old “Willow’s” spot.  I wish him luck.  That place seems to be hard to maintain a business since Mr. Nucci closed it.  Traffic pattern is pitiful.

Leonardtown:  I STILL have no clue who is going into the corner spot on the other end of the block from the “old Café” who will morph into La Rive Breton soon.  Word there is that wending their way through the liquor control board has delayed opening, and maybe the 14th of this month.  We’ll see.  I have run into a couple of the servers from before, and they say they will have their jobs, or at least were promised.  Hope so.

Speaking of Leonardtown, MFO and I were over there on Saturday for haircuts, and since our appointment was relatively early (for us), we decided to have breakfast before returning home.  And, eschewing the golden arches near the hair cuttery, we ventured up in town to “Ye Olde Towne Café” up in town.  Options for a “real” breakfast are few over there.  Anyway, we went in and were seated at one of the tables.   There were several other folks there, a lot of families.  The Café features a buffet on weekends, but as is my wont, I avoid buffets if at all possible.  While they may offer a bigger variety, they sometimes offer things that have sat there a while, plus I have sort of an aversion to paying them money to let me get my own food.  So, we ordered off the menu, and I chose whatever they call their standard breakfast, two eggs, choice of bacon, sausage, and maybe ham, home or hash browns, and mercifully they asked if we wanted toast.  I always feel bad when it comes and I never eat it.  I selected two eggs over easy, bacon, and hash browns.  Although I heard another server deliver the speech “Hi I’m…” ours did not, she just stuck to business. 
            The buffet was doing good business with one table making at least three trips..  Our food came soon enough, and was what you might expect.  The bacon was less done that I would prefer, but I didn’t ask for “crispy” which I might have.  Hash browns were from a bag, some strands cooked more than others.  Eggs were okay except there was a black “thing” in the middle of one of my eggs.  I suspect it was from the griddle; at least it didn’t have legs.  I placed is prominently on the edge of the plate, just didn’t want to send it back.  At least the yolks were runny still.  MFO’s eggs same sans black speck, and her turkey (link) sausage was, according to her, quite spicy.
            While I would not yet make them a candidate for “just right” status, they might be headed there.  Décor and atmosphere, if you can call it that, has no character.

Still staying in a “Most Convenient Place” (LT), the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise has opened.  I would suspect that might hit the BTB coffee shop (old Brewing Grounds) a bit.  Still no place over there to sit and gab over coffee, at least conveniently. 

And almost lastly, on one of our trips up the road to Charlotte Hall for the eye doc, I spotted this place in the little strip mall just before Golden Beach road.




One wonders the concept.  Be interesting to see what it becomes.  At least the “now hiring” sign has replaced the most popular sign in the County:  “Coming Soon”.

And Little Caesar’s near us, sports the third most:  “Now Open”.  Eee hah.

Oh, another visit to Cow and Fish (I seem to have a strange fascination with the place), resulted in reinforcing “Good Food/Uneven Service” opinion.   That seems to be a common comment among my foodie friends.

Although I have some feelers out, i do not know what's going in next to the Cracker Barrel on the corner of 235 and Shady Mile Road.  Looks like something with a drive through capability.  Maybe they's put up the favorite County Sign soon and we'll know. 

Okay enough.

DFD





Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Book



There is a book you might remember called “How Starbuck’s Saved My Life” which I started to read, and quickly got bogged down and never finished it.  My version would read “How UEFA Helped me get through”, a less intense version.  As most people are probably (painfully) aware I finished my last cataract surgery last Monday.  Okay, Jackson, I can see clearly now....

As MFO (and several of my good friends) would (be more than happy to) tell you, I don’t handle these situations well.  I am definitely NOT a “glass half full” guy, I have rather more of a “glass is smashed” outlook.  I think about this a lot.  Why can’t I be an everything will be fine, no worries, and just be happy person.  I’m not. I can’t help it, I worry and fret.  The only rationalization I can think of is that my years of training as an engineer have always revolved around figuring out (say with an aircraft design) what are the failure chances, and where are the weak spots.  A mind set of what can go wrong and if it does, how do we fix it?  Hence that translates into worrying about somebody taking something out of my eyeball.   I did take a lot of comfort from the many people who responded on facebook with good wishes.

So I had my first surgery on the port side eye a couple of weeks ago and of course (half full people) everything went fine.  Spent a lot of time looking at



Once in the operating room, the drugs do their thing, and you wake up with a patch.  I'll spare you an image of that! Then, when home just keep putting in drops (and drops, and drops, and drops, and....0, no lifting, which led to some dead time (bad choice of words) on the couch.  As it turned out the whole week was filled with almost continuous coverage of Soccer games between European teams vying for the: 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016, is the 15th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organised by UEFA (borrowed from Wiki).
Now I never have been much of a Soccer fan, but by the end of the week, I got kind of hooked.  I have a much better understanding of the game (except for the “off sides” rule despite help from my referee BIL).  At first glance it reminds you of the youth version, kick the ball go get the ball, kick it again, hope for the best.   But after you watch for a while you start to see some form and the talent involved.  A kick from one side of the field to the other that lands neatly at the feet of a team mate who brings it effortlessly to a stop.  Try that at home!  The announcers began to talk about passes that should go to either the right foot or the left foot, how they lead a sprinting team mate who picks it up on the dead run.   Pretty neat stuff.  And I even learned the term “set piece” which is a play resulting from a corner kick.  And then we got treated to see an Iceland “side” that toppled some of the most talented teams (England for instance).  And you gotta love those fans..

And before we leave, after watching those teams play it sure was a letdown to see Argentina carve up the USA…USA… USA! team who couldn’t even manage a shot on goal. Argentina has Messi, who is considered one of the best players in the world (besides Renaldo).  I hope you got to see Messi’s free kick during the (USA) game, and then the humiliation of missing the goal entirely in the game against Chile.. and his “retirement” from international play.  So did Brett Farve.

So the EUFA helped me gain a new appreciated for “Futbol” through some (I suppose) self inflicted hard times, and now things are clearing up in the eyeballs.  Despite a better understanding of the game,  I will however, never understand the propensity of players when barely touched to fall to the ground, writhing in pain, and when it doesn't engender some colored card on an opponent, they either get up for the free kick or trot away.  which means we can apply more attention to


FOOD

Keeping up with this place is difficult to do.  Just today one of the members of the “just right” team sent me this picture of a sign now displayed in the “Jerk” chicken place (where I never saw a single customer) in San Souci, next to China Harbor II



I would think there would be a larger market for Bay Dogz than the Jerk stuff..BEV, I’ll just bet you can get one with Old Bay.  We’ll see.

And I happened to be over in Leonardtown today with MFO who had to pick up some cleaning so I looked into Le Rive Breton (old Café Des Artistes)  it isn’t quite ready for customers



Oh, which reminds me that I talked to what became one of my favorite serves in the Café, and she said her job is still waiting for her.  So i can't wait to

DFD


Friday, June 24, 2016

Earl of Sandwich...


Just a nice experience in the kitchen

Thy name is Reuben.  The Reuben is quite a nice sandwich and I’m partial to it, and on certain days have them for lunch.  I’ve written about it/them in the past, and gone over the history some, and then went off on the controversy between marbled and “regular” rye bread.  While I much prefer the latter, the former seems to hold some caché as being somewhat traditional.   But that’s not for this visit.

A bit ago, I decided I would get one for my dinner as MFO had some event and I would be dining on my own resources.  I happened to be up  San Souci during the late afternoon and didn’t want to make another trip for a single purpose.  So I stopped in to Coffee Quarter and requested said sandwich, but added that since I wouldn’t eat it for a few hours, could they just make it and not “cook” it, i.e., letting me do that when it was closer to when I wanted to eat.  The young lady said that since they used mayo as well as damp sauerkraut it might get kind of mushy, but she would be glad to give me the ingredients separately.  Wow, that would be great I said.  So, I walked out with what one might call a “Kit” all neatly wrapped and packaged.


or unpackaged:


Featuring (unmarbled) rye, mayo, Thousand Island, Kraut, Swiss and corned beef.

So I set about fabricating the sandwich, applying the Mayo (which I think is not considered traditional, but I used it anyway in lieu of butter.  

Since I was in control, I eliminated of one of my pet peeves about sandwiches which contain meat and cheese.  I believe it is very important that the cheese be integrated with the meat rather than all on one side.


(another layer of corned beef was applied after the photo)

Since we don’t have a panini press gathering dust someplace (along with other seldom used appliances) I did trot out our LeCruset ridged pan (which does mostly gather dust), melted some clarified butter for the outside and grilled the sandwich resulting in a nicely marked sandwich.


Another technique I sometimes employ in order to get the sandwich completely warm and all the cheese melted is to put a little lid over it for a bit



Let it rest some, and with my trusty (well used) serrated bread knife had a very nice sandwich for myself.


One might find higher quality ingredients, but it was fun and kudos to the nice lady at Coffee Quarter.

And lastly, just another food note:  A group of us went up to Annapolis for a menu tasting from a potential caterer for an upcoming event.  We sampled appetizers




(as well as potential salads and main courses)

And then there was dessert, one option was a chocolate tart which was, as they say, to die for.  In fact everybody loved and raved about it so much the caterer said (much to my surprise!) would you like the recipe?  When it was unanimous that we all would, a short trip to the kitchen resulted in a copy for everyone.



My purpose in showing this is NOT so you can reproduce it, but to see how a professional chef uses recipes.  Us amateurs (me at least) follows them by rote, and hope for the best.  This one has been tweaked with notes, scribbles, modifications as to how (she) finally liked it.  It calls for ganache poured over cooled custard, etc., and something I never would attempt.  I thought it very illuminating.

Stay tuned for eventual news on the event.  Meanwhile please remain

DFD

Medical note, my starboard eye gets “done” on Monday (27th)