Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pithy Tuesday

The muses are sort of quiet today…nothing startling nor deep. Maybe should just shut up...oh well.

Spent yesterday doing mostly nothing, with no good explanation. I did spend some time watching the “round of 16” tennis matches at Wimbledon, called the best day of tennis, I suppose because everybody plays. And, they did. No major upsets encountered along the way, so the high seeds move on. At the risk of getting into trouble I have an observation. It seems to be the tradition or practice that the female players include various vocalizations with their play that the males do not. I have no explanation for this, I am not sure if it affects your ability, but I think objective evaluation would justify that statement. I do know that it certainly limits the enjoyment of watching the games.

Then, we were treated to a historic event, as they played the first complete match under the new roof, plus setting the record for the latest match at Wimbledon (~10:30p local time). In the end the Scott Andy Murray outlasted a game Stan Wawrinka in a five set match. Virtually everyone in the stands was rooting for Murray, but I was impressed by Wawrinka’s grit (sorry, an over used term) in hanging in there til the end. Seemed like Murray mostly looked like he had a stomach ache.

The economy continues to affect the food scene. Have you noticed how many commercials there are for Subways “5 Dollar Foot Longs”; “Big Eats – Five Bucks” at Pizza Hut, Applebees: “two for twenty”; “pick ‘n pair starting at $5.99”; Friday’s “endless lunch, just $6.99”. Begging you to come eat.. and, if you do...


Monday, June 29, 2009

Roll TIdes

Yesterday, going through the accumulated stack of papers on what passes for a desk , I uncovered the menu for a wine dinner at the Tides. Crap! It’s today! I forgot to sign up! A check with the restaurant resulted in being able to attend, although MFO took the night off.

Long time readers will remember that I have sort of drifted away from attending wine dinners, partially because of the “wine guy/gal” and the cute patter that usually accompanies the wine. “here’s a fun little wine…..”. Last night’s experience might make me more interested in attending (selected) such events more. The Tides is always a pleasant space (with the best rest rooms around), there weren’t many tables filled, so it was quiet which is always a plus, and the wine guy was very laid back. He visited each table at the start, and told a little about the wines, and then more or less retired for the evening. No speech at the start of each course. It was more like you decided to go out for dinner and had a prix fixe meal selected for you. Spanish Wines were featured, and the food selections sort of followed suit.

The tables were set with the menu for the evening, a water glass that had ice a plenty, and a wine glass for each course, mercifully including enough silver so that each course could be consumed with a fresh set. As it should be. Upon being seated, a glass of a NV Cava Brut Reserve was poured. After it warmed a bit it revealed a nice nose, yeasty taste and small bubbles, quite refreshing. Five courses followed, with just a little much time between, although when alone and you only talk to the tablecloth, it might be more apparent. A Quail Escabeche was served first, along with a Verdejo. Any wine would have a problem standing up to the acidic Escabeche, but this didn’t do too badly. The quail was diminutive, and maybe it was due to the Chardonnay Vinegar and wine sauce, but the color of the skin was somewhat pale although the meat was tender and pinkish. There were some very nice carrots and onions in the sauce.

The next course was (as far as I know) Italian, a Braciola with Sauce Espagnole. Although Espagnole is French for Spanish, it really has nothing to do with Spain (why it’s called that is another story), it’s just one of the so called Mother Sauces. Anyway it was a tasty beef roll stuffed with cheese and bread crumbs. Three spears of grilled asparagus were emanating from the beef, giving it a sort of regal appearance. I thought it was the best dish of the night. The rest of the courses consisted of a Seafood Paella, a Savory Bleu Cheese Cake, and finished off with a Strawberry Flan. The Paella was sort of “de-constructed” as it was served with rice in the middle, surrounded by pieces of shrimp, calamari, Mussels, Crayfish, a white fish and chorizo. Personally, I would prefer the classic preparation. It was paired with a Mouvedre. The strawberry flan carried the next honors, fruity and chilled, paired with a dessert wine of which grape i don't recall.

The service was just right, and if I had to gripe (and I always have to gripe) I would ask that either the food speed up from the kitchen, or the wine wait for the food. Pouring the wine and then waiting several minutes more means that when the food arrives, you have sipped your way almost through the wine (speaking for myself). On the plus side, the pours were generous, and seconds were offered on occasion. They were available for purchase although I really didn’t have any reason to increase an already bulging cellar. If I were forced to choose I would have gone for the Cava (at $9.99 I think).

All in all, a proficient Sunday evening. The Tides remains at the top of the Lexington Park (fine) dining options

and i did

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crabs of Blue...

In the land of nothing to do in Southern Maryland, Friday night we had to choose between going to the River Concert and a special trip to the Blue Crab’s game in Waldorf. The St. Mary’s County Historical Society planned a group outing to attend the ball game and in the end we opted for that. We had never been to a game, and I had heard good reports about it, not only here, but about the “minor league” atmosphere, so figured this was a good way to check it out. Besides, just getting on a Keller Motor Coach (remember it’s not a bus – that’s for kids) in Leonardtown and getting off at the gate is attractive. So, we gathered at Tudor Hall in Leonardtown, had a quick Happy Hour and boarded the Keller for a relatively short ride to the ball park. As it turned out, the ride up and back were almost the highlight of the trip. As it turned out, Ernie Bell (of the recent car dealership fame) and Judge John Hanson Briscoe were among the happy troupe of fans. Ernie has long had a love and relationship with baseball here in the county, and spent most of the ride up telling about the old teams here in the county, both historical (1873) and more modern days (early fifties). He has a rich knowledge of the local history, who lived where, who did what, on and on. We were regaled by tales of games, players, ‘yellow pony”; “donkey”; “frog”; “head rat” of the wharf rats). Hearing his tales of early Leonardtown brings home that we’re just guests here. It didn’t hurt that we had the remnants of the happy hour with us. Then John Briscoe took the mic and we learned he was a pretty highly regarded left hander in his day. A blown arm resulted in his law career.

So, before we knew it we were pulling up to Regency Furniture Stadium, and disgorged at the gate. It’s a very pleasant facility, small enough that you can walk from the right field to the left without much trouble, and there is a very laid back, homey feel to the place. There are some “boxes”, and a sort of pavilion affair off to the side. Nice setting. As for the food, there isn’t the variety apparently available “up the road”, but still some interesting choices. There is the standard ball park stuff with addition of some “crab” items (crab cakes and balls, plus a crab pretzel????), some BBQ chicken. Besides the standard counters there are some “carts” in the aisle where you can get more specialty stuff like fancier hot dogs, Turkey Hill lemonade, and some more boutique beers (standard is Coor’s light and A Sam Adams product, and Blue Crab). You better learn to multiply by $3.75 because that seems to be a standard price for most things. Dogs a little less (or more if you go for the froo froo), burgers a little more, but at least nothing leads with a 7 as it allegedly does for the Nats.

We settled into our seats about 25 minutes before game time. I really don’t know how many seats they have, but it wasn’t crowded by any means, and there seems to be plenty of room. Very heavily family oriented, with kids everywhere (a statement, not a judgement). Pretty soon players began sauntering in from left field somewhere, no locker rooms behind the dugouts apparently. Another passenger familiar with the team said that this was the highest “non-affiliated” level team there was. In other words, there isn’t any connection to any major organization. The players are here to get seen with hopes of connecting with “the bigs”. Some have had offers, but didn’t like the team that did, so they are shopping themselves around. Each of the players came onto the field carrying their own glove, and most had a bat bag, or just carried their bag. Most stopped and chatted with the fans (or family), some signed some things, really up close and personal stuff, not the isolation you get at major league parks.

Finally the game began, after an “interesting” rendition of the National Anthem by a seven year old girl. Although I know there are those devoted baseball followers of the game out there, and God love them. I will be the first to admit that I am not a big baseball fan, and am not passionate about our “national pastime”. That’s a very key word there, “past time”. Because a lot of it does without much going on. The pitcher stood on the mound, stared at home plate. Stepped off the mound, peered in again, stepped on the rubber and delivered. Ball One! Another ritual ensued before the second offering flew toward home. It got worse if somebody got on first, stare over there, step on, step off, throw over there, step on, step off, you get the idea. The first inning took 20 some minutes to play. The pace of the game is not accelerated by the fact that between almost every inning there is some “event’ that goes on, like eating contests, dancing on the dugouts with “Pinch” the mascot, little games for the kids. In between there are real baseball plays, and there were some good ones including home runs, stolen bases, but they certainly come at a price. One interesting interlude was when the “Barnstormers” manager came on the field to protest something, threw his hat down and was summarily ejected from the game. In the majors, that means he goes back into the dugout, kicks some benches, punches the wall, and disappears down the runway. Not here! You get tossed and you have to walk from home plate, toward the shortstop, into left field, finally exiting out there. A good three minute trip in full view (and voice) of the home fans. Talk about the walk of shame! Anyway, the game dragged on, pitching, walking, running, singing, dancing, a leisurely pace to say the least. When we departed at our pre-agreed on time of 10:00, the game was just getting into the 7th inning, after a 7:13 first pitch.

Oh, and back to food a minute, I had one of those fancy dogs, lathered in mustard, onion and relish, some boardwalk fries (which as far as I can tell means they come in a cup instead of those paper trays), and an Irish stout. I was trying so hard, carefully holding the dog in both hands, over the napkin, little bites, carefully chewing, until almost the last bite when somehow the dog exploded into many pieces, giving me a nice yellow stripe on my tasteful (Dress for Baseball) shirt and a lap full of mustard soaked onion pieces. You can’t win.

Anyway, it was a pleasant evening, albeit long. Would have to seriously consider another outing..

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just a little bit more

on the event tuesday night (local, etc.). It was a fundraiser for Patuxent Habitat for Humanity, a worthy cause.

And, in the effort to save our time yesterday, I didn't get into the "juggling" aspect of attending these events. I knew it was coming, but it is still frustrating. You "check in", and are handed a wine glass (thanks again for that) along with your little ticket you're supposed to get punched at each booth to prevent you from returning 10 times for that stuffed pepper. Okay, so you have to keep track of the glass and your ticket. That's two already. get to the booth with maybe now that modicum of wine in your glass requiring extra care to prevent it from dribbling out on the ground (or you). You get your little morsel from the vendor usually in a little cup or on a little plate, and oh yes, here's a napkin and a spoon/fork. Enjoy! Ticket, glass, dish, napkin, utensil, thats five. and the last time i counted, i had only two hands. Several strategies are available - some make a little "stand" by cupping the wine glass at the top and try to balance the plate on that; you and saunter over to a parked car and slyly use the hood/trunk; ask somebody to hold it for you (not recommended); squat on the ground (other troubles arise). It's just damn hard. and yes, i know there are those little devices that enable you to hang the glass around your neck, and also look like an idiot.. a real problem..

Sign seen in a rear window of a car: "Re-Hab is for Quitters"


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Local night...

We attended the Local Flavor Local Fare event last night over in Leonardtown (notice it’s always “over” in Leonardtown). It was a fun event as usual, but we thought that there weren’t as many people there as last year. A good turnout of the restaurateurs however with all of the Leonardtown eateries represented, as well as three from the Lexington Park side of the world, making 11 overall. The two wineries also were there with tastings (more later) that came along with your ticket, or you could purchase a full glass separately. I did enjoy the fact that real glasses were used instead of plastic.

A detailed description of the food offerings would result in too much ink, but items such as Local Vegetable Salsa topped with Local Crabmeat, Maryland Crab Cake Sliders with Local Veggie Coleslaw, Stuffed Sweet Peppers with Caiso Fresco wrapped in Bacon, on and on. I did get the chance to try the Bollywood Masala offering of Chicken Curry on Rice. It did not have as much heat as I feared, so maybe I better get myself in there. All the food was served well, and it’s nice to see the faces from the places we eat. They are a nice bunch, those food people. A couple of images of folks and food..

One thing I always dislike at events where wine is “tasted” is when they use those little metering devices in the wine bottles. I know that they donated their time and wine, but it just somehow seems that it sends the wrong message. Pouring by hand is more personal which is what Solomons Island Winery did, resulting in enough wine that you could “taste” it. But the Perigeaux folks brought out the plastic thingies to assure a common thimble full of wine for all. Just a small vote that next year’s event be done without those…

is this a taste?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Event and Vent.....

Just a little info on an event tonight over in Leonardtown, and a couple of driving related aggravations…


Tonight is the second annual “Local Flavor Local Fare” food tasting on the square in Leonardtown. Several of the local restaurants will have booths where you can taste little bits of goodness. Our favorites Blue Wind, Corbels, Tides, Quality Street, Doo Dah, Café Des, the JTD center will all be represented. And, here’s a chance, Bollywood Masala will be there!! Sounds like the feeder will have his opportunity. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance (we have ours!) and I think they’re thirty per each. Solomon’s Island and Perigeaux will supply wine. Weather should be good, see you there!


I know some think this is the complaint department, but I can’t help it. I discovered another Southern Maryland driving habit the other day. Watch for it. So you approach an intersection and the light turns red. You glide to a stop, resigned to a minute and a half or so (if you’re not at one of the demon infested lights such as Millstone) of not moving. But wait! That car next to me creeps six inches and stops. 10 seconds, another one foot creep. Stop. Creep, stop. Creep, stop. By this time the auto is half over the crosswalk into the intersection. Creep, stop. Almost in the intersection. Light turns green, we both leave. What’s up with that? Cheating on the “starting line”? Testing those brakes? Foot slips off brake 8 times in a row? You gotta wonder.

Second driving related aggravation. Have you seen those silly Lexus ads on TV lately for their sporty line? No more “fine Corinthian leather” approach. The first one I saw started with some guy in a sport coat and bare feet, running like a madman, leaping into a red Lexus and grinning like a loon, hitting the gas as a crowd of non-descript people start chasing him. Did he just steal the car? Lexus comes out in favor of grand theft auto? Then he picks up some young thing and they speed off, both grinning. Next (ad) we see them pulling into a parking space overlooking LA (?) only to be interrupted by a helicopter coming over the hill. More grinning and speeding. Lately there’s a series with cars spinning out on city streets (professional drivers on a closed course, do not attempt) with their mouths wide open as if catching flies. Close ups of faces that remind you of that painting by Edvard Munch, “the scream”. Silly silly silly.

There. Thank you for your indulgence. Have a nice day


Monday, June 22, 2009


Well, the busy weekend has come and gone. Most of it was spent in the vicinity of St. Mary’s city between the various concerts and the big hoopla on Saturday for the “birthday bash”. I spent most of my day by the re-constructed brick Chapel of 1667, being an information guy in the morning, and a “docent” in the afternoon. It’s always interesting to talk to people about the chapel, its history, and reconstruction. Some are interested in the historical part and others want to know “how did you do that?”. I have long learned that you don’t “make something up” when questions are asked just to look smart, because there are a lot of people who know far more history that I do. It isn’t hard.

Anyway, as I was sitting by the walkway in the morning, I overheard casual conversation of the people passing by. Although this sounds incredulous, I think I did hear this from one of the parents talking to his young son: “and this is what the Chapel looked like when the settlers arrived!!”. Of course you don’t have a recorder, but I think that was the gist of it..

Before the visitors came

Then, they came!!

Now that the interior is complete with walls and windows and such, the acoustics are interesting. Speech is very difficult to understand, but as you remember music is wonderful. As part of the Birthday events, we had two violinists, a mother and daughter play three little sets during the afternoon. Boy, was that nice. They played relatively period music and it was beautiful.

Then the rains and wind came to visit, and did a number on our tents:

Yesterday a planned sail on one of the tall ships had to be canceled because of the high winds. We did get to tour the ships and I visited the Sultana and the Kalmar Nyckel out of Delaware. The crew told the story of the ship and its history.

but of course not everybody is interested in history!!

The rest of sunday was spent watching the golfers deal with Bethpage Black!!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Music of the Night...

I have never been to Wolf Trap. I seldom go to the Kennedy Center. But, I do go to St. Mary’s College River Concerts. Friday night was the first of the 2009 concerts and it was memorable. In honor of the 375th anniversary of the founding of Maryland, the first selection was 17th century music by Vivaldi, Albinoni, Handel, all wonderful stuff. Mostly trumpet music, but a couple of pieces featured Marie Claire Breen, a Scottish soprano. There’s just something about brass and trumpets that stirs the soul. I suppose that the settlers never heard this music, but I’m sure their spirits enjoyed last night. After the 17th century pieces, there was a debut of “Terrae Mariae – a Creation Story”, a musical composition about the founding of Maryland. It featured spoken parts as well as the music. Very interesting.

What an enjoyable experience the River Concerts are, it’s small enough that parking and walking are not punishing, but large enough to attract world class musicians. It has become the “thing to do” in Southern Maryland in the summer months. You bring some chairs, pack some food from simple to extravagant, stake out a little encampment, and settle in with a glass of wine or other beverage and enjoy yourself. Always run into people you know, like last night out of the crowd appeared our old buddy Roto, back in town for some meetings. Was really great to see him. Food is also available for purchase with a nice selection of fare available. But how can you not like this:

After the break, Maestro made an announcement that the Governor’s Band was next, and in order to preserve schedule, they were only going to play the 2nd and last movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”. Well, the classics bow to the politicians. Not sure what to make of that. But, although abbreviated, it was still enjoyable. Live orchestral music is just so fulfilling. After that, “O’Malley’s March” took the stage. Billed as Celtic Rock, they played some sort of Irish music, and the first piece was backed by the orchestra which sort of resulted in a mish mash, but after that the band pretty much stood on its own. They were very talented, not just a bunch of guys brought along to back up the Gov pretending to be a band.

And speaking of the Gov, last night he wasn’t. Just some guy playing a guitar enjoying himself and sharing music with everyone. I really think he had a great time. How often to you see the governor of a state down on his knees with his guitar? I almost was expecting the duck walk!!

You know, in the end, everyone is just a person, your job may be a governor, or even president of the United States, but inside you are who you are. You play a guitar and sing on a stage in Southern Maryland, or maybe slap a fly on your hand during an interview, and in those rare moments, a real person breaks through. We’re just people.. It was really wonderful to just share the music, food, and companionship last night, forgetting who you were looking at. Good for the soul.

What to do in Southern Maryland – HAH! Tonight will be another concert, but won't feature Mr. O'Malley. But, there will be fireworks!! C'mon Down! See this!

Okay, off to a day of sitting by the Chapel – Happy Birthday Maryland!!

Thanks to Keith Wood for sharing images!!


Friday, June 19, 2009

School's out for the ......

Well, here we go. "Summer" launches this weekend. As an aside, were reminded of that this morning when we peered between our toes to see a commercial crabber yards off shore, staring back at us. Skulking into clothing I then did the morning ritual of chasing the ducks from the pool deck and cleaning up after them. It’s always something. Anyway...

Last night we went over to Great Mills High School to attend the “premier” of a film/video about the desegregation of that school in the late 50’s entitled “With all Deliberate Speed: One High School’s Story” It documented the story of the first black students to attend Great Mills, and then graduated in ’59. They went pretty much at the direction of their parents (kids obeyed parents then) which meant they left Carver (an all black school here in Lexington Park) and went to the then all white Great Mills. Quite the dynamic leaving a comfortable situation venturing into an unknown and potentially hostile situation. Many of the people involved were present, and there was a little panel discussion following the film where they further shared their experiences. Without venturing into politics, let’s just say that St. Mary’s County didn’t exactly embrace diversity. It wasn’t until the late 60’s that the school was truly integrated. The film was produced by Dr. Merideth Taylor, who is the chair of the Music, Theater, etc., department at St. Mary’s College. She is very active in preserving and documenting the history of African Americans here in St. Mary’s County, and has produced some excellent books and dramas. Keep and eye out.

And along with “summer” comes more events than you can possibly attend. This weekend is huge. On the menu:


The inaugural River Concert at St. Mary’s College, and will kick off Maryland’s 375th anniversary celebration. The music of the 1600’s will be featured along with the world premiere of “Terrae Mariae – A Creation Story”. And a special guest appearance of “O’Malley’s March” a Celtic Rock Group featuring the governor without his gov’s hat. Quite the event. See and be seen!

Tomorrow is jam packed.

An all day (10 – 5) 375th Birthday celebration at Historic St. Mary’s City, a free birthday party, with all the exhibits open and interpreters present. Musical offerings from local favorites, really neat important historical documents on display (like copies of the Charter), free boat rides on a skipjack, tall ships present, games and construction projects for the kids, an actual archeological dig to see, Indian dancers, food for everybody (including a booth from the Ruddy Duck), and another River Concert in the evening (sans the gov.)

In Lexington Park will be the annual “Juneteenth Celebration” in freedom park, commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1985 Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. Great music, food, and performances. The above mentioned Meredith Taylor is very active in the Unified Committee for African-American Contributions which puts on the celebration every year.

At Jefferson Patterson Park will be the African-American Family Community day, more gospel choirs, wagon rides, tennis lessons (?),

For you car fans, there will be a PINKS event at Budd’s Creek. I have no idea what PINKS is, but it appears very popular.

Oh, yeah, there’s also the rain plagued US Open at Bethpage.

And, happy father’s day Dad, you’ll need the day to recover..

Pick something and DO IT!!!

Too bad there’s nothing to do in Southern Maryland..

DFD (and for the weather which is supposed to be summer like as well)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Muses Day Off

Lite Wednesday today...

Happy Birthday Igor - check out Google logo.

enjoy your day.

Summer Wines? Try Prosecco..


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Howdy, Pard!

After yesterday’s tome, perhaps a bit lighter today. Have you received your June/July issue of Saveur yet? It’s “The Texas Issue”. Oh, my you say, what are they thinking? Well, just take a browse through it and I think you’ll agree with me that they continue to be right at the top of the food publication world, at least of the ones I receive. As an aside, they won an award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for their “breakfast issue” which you might recall we’ve discussed. Anyway, this issue explores the wide variety of Texas cuisine (an apparent oxymoron), not just a bunch of Tex Mex stuff. Do you know there are three kinds of Chicken Fried Steak? German, cowboy, and Southern. You can get all three at the Finish Line Café in Paradise, Texas. Ever hear of “Caviar and Pearls”? Check page 20. I didn’t know that Whole Foods started in Texas (Austin, 1981). Chili Powder was invented in Texas (Gephart or Pendery in the 1890’s). Enjoy the photos of New Zion Barbecue in Huntsville. Anyway, if you only subscribe to one food magazine (as opposed to foodie magazines) it definitely should be Saveur. This is not a paid advertisement, just an endorsement.

Not meaning re-kindle the flames of the whole “speed camera” subject, sort of a related thing came on the news last night. I forget the municipality, but “they” were going to install speed bumps on this apparently sort of local street. Speeding was an issue. Of course they interviewed a few residents, most complained about the inconvenience of them (which we can sympathize with) but generally understood that something had to be one. A few just didn’t like them in principle. But, there was one person who played the “safety card”, allowing as how that speed bumps were unsafe because now emergency vehicles couldn’t get to them soon enough. You decide. It's always something.

Don’t forget the big Maryland 375th Birthday party this Saturday at Historic St. Mary’s City and Friday’s inaugural River Concert, along with a special edition on Saturday. The feeder will be stationed by the reconstructed brick chapel. It’s all free.


Monday, June 15, 2009

No You Can't! Yes You Can!....and Rats

Coffee is bad for you….no, wait, coffee is okay for you. Red wine helps your heart, no wait, it doesn’t. How many times have we seen the scientific/medical community flip flop positions on things? Well, now we can add one more to that list: our much maligned finny friend, the striped bass or rockfish. As you will recall, we documented (5 June) an announcement from the Maryland State department of something that said we should “drastically reduce or eliminate our consumption of Rockfish caught in local waters”, because of the high concentration of PCB’s. Oh my gosh, headboats, restaurants, waterfront dives, crashing all around us. Now, last friday in the same newspaper (I use the term loosely) there is a front page article proclaiming: “State says keep eating rockfish”. It goes on to laud the benefits of the omega – 3 fatty acids that help your heart. Then it starts into some lame explanation of well, they really meant the PCB’s were high in fish from the ocean (Dry Dock menu change coming?), not the bay. If you eat the fish that come from the bay, you can have 25 servings per year, or about two a month. What’s a person to do?? As is often quoted, moderation in all things.

Really old time readers will recall that I once mentioned Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet magazine, published a piece about children’s eating habits, and if they were exposed to “real” food early on, it would pave the way for appreciating adult food for their later years. I really related to that. Well, I was watching TV the other day, mildly aware of what was going on, when a commercial caught my eye. It consisted of several shots of little kids sitting at a table, doing “creative” things to dispose of the food on their plate.. One little cherub was shown sneaking his pork chop to his dog. Another little nipper was shoveling his haricot verts into a little truck, and another emptying his plate into a basket when nobody was looking. The narrator chimed in saying “are you tired of “junior” not eating his food?” the resolution of this domestic issue was to supply the little infant with Tyson’s Chicken McNugget thingies. Good! Great! Let’s train Junior to eschew real food by pitching a fit so that he/she can have processed chicken parts, making Mom smiling, and getting rid of her duty to introduce cuisine to the next generation. It’s no freaking wonder that a generation thinks that food is prepared by asking for a number into a speaker, or figuring out how many seconds before the “bing” announcing din-din is ready. If we would like to have our children learn to appreciate good food, get rid of the easy way out of macaroni, chicken hunks, hot dogs, and other cop outs. It’s work, but it may be worth it. I hear you, my good friend (local) mom of two red heads, time is of the essence, but I also know you do it right. It can be done.

The Rats—

Saturday night, MFO and I joined about 30 others at Corbels, for a “Medley of Melody and Fine Food”. A special dinner to the accompaniment of The Pax Rats, a band made up of four local people well known to people associated with the Naval Air Station here. They all have alternate lives of real professional work, but here they were, dressed in sort of Blues Brothers garb, black suits with ties, and refreshingly no (visible) body art nor piercings. The music was of everybody’s generation (save the children of the band), and leaned toward American Standards, Torch Songs, and many classics. They performed 25 songs like Young at Heart (appropriate), The Way you Look Tonight, I get a Kick out of You, and well, you get the idea. I go way back (well, 13 years anyway) with the gentlemen who is the drummer. I try not to get into specific names here, and won’t, but most (local) folks can guess his identity as one of his former jobs was co-leading the ITT during the Super Hornet EMD program. He was known for rapid fire decisions, and timely action. So it’s no doubt that he is a drummer, and I was quite impressed with his timing and rhythm.

As to the food, it was nicely prepared as usual at Corbels. I was really pleased with a little amuse bouche for a starrer, which was a tasty shrimp perched atop some braised (?) spinach(? – maybe some other bitter green), and a fried polenta cake. Really nice way to tickle the palate. The rest of the meal consisted of a fresh green salad, a choice between marinated portobellos, herb crusted pork loin, or baked halibut with lobster sauce, and a couple of dessert choices. And here again, one of my pet peeves raised its head. I discussed this with the chef and understand and respect his reasons, but darn it I’m going to stick to my position. Tables were either six or four, and therefore there were little tents with our name and menu selections. Each table had at least two of the main course choices, if not all three. So at service time after the dandy amuse bouche and fresh salad was consumed, out came the entrees. Servers entered the room with servings of pork loin in each hand, and started to wander the room peering for “pork loin” tents, and then setting them in front of the owner. So there were tables in the room with pork sitting in front of some, and some looking at nothing. After all the pork had been delivered then out came the fish, and then the veggie entrée (which MFO had selected). Our table had been among the first to receive the loin, so by the time the table was complete (and it wasn’t forever, but some time had elapsed) the diner next to me tried a couple of bites and said that the pork had cooled beyond where she wished to consume it. The dish was taken, and replaced with a whole new dish which is as it should be. The quality of the food was very good, but gosh darn it, why can’t it be served as a table. This certainly isn’t unique to Corbels, as I run into this over and over in “banquet” settings. Again, there are back of the house reasons why it is so, but the front of the house isn’t quite happy with this approach.

And, just to show you I’m not (completely) loony, in the “Ask Tom” column of yesterday’s Sietsema’s restaurant review was a relevant comment. The reader had asked Tom why if part of the table wanted a la carte and others wanted a prix fixe option, why were they told that the table had to have the same option. Mr. Sietsema talked to the chef, and Tom appreciated his points, but said “Although I think it’s in the interest of a restaurant to focus on what’s the best for the customer….”. Me too.

Oh, the review gave three stars (a rarity) to Sushi Taro in DC. Expensive, but heavenly. Sushi fans take note.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tom Wolfe Dines Out

You can’t go home again, and we found that to be true last night.

Not wanting to deal with dinner at the digs we decided to “go out”. We finally eschewed an inclination to go to the Ruddy Duck opening, letting them settle for a while and decided on the Dry Dock. We knew that they had a new “summer menu”, supplanting the “night” theme that apparently did them well in the winter hours, and decided to give it a try. As long time readers will remember, we used to be “regulars” at the Dry Dock, and went there fairly often, enjoying good food, professional and friendly service, and the always pleasant surroundings. With various changes in staff, we have sort of drifted away and thought last night a good time to have another visit. After crawling over the bridge we finally got to the parking lot around 6:30 or so, found a parking spot, ascended the stairs only to find an almost empty restaurant. There were four long time patrons at the bar that we knew from the “old days” and that was it. We took a couple of seats at the bar as is/was our wont, but at the “service” end rather than our favorite spot. Although there was a lack of diners, there was no lack of staff. There were probably 6 or 7 including the barkeeps, and seemed to be enjoying each other’s company more than the patrons. They seemed to be having fun. We were pleased to see at least one was one of the “original” crowd, and was um, more of our generation. The rest were (relatively) young, and some featured body art. The taciturn bartender asked if we would like to eat or drink and we said both. Eventually a drink order was taken, mine the “test” drink, and MFO tried a glass of Gewürztraminer. Despite my misgivings, the “dry manhatten, etc.” was executed flawlessly, and the glass of (always too cold) white wine was delivered.

Meanwhile a few more people straggled in, some sitting on the porch, but there was still room for plenty more. While we were enjoying our drinks, an appetizer was served to our friends down the bar and when we asked what it was, we were told that it was a “trial” not on the menu, and we were offered an order. Of course! We were eventually given a plate of what turned out to be tempura (?) coated goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms. They were fairly tasty and pleasant to look at, but we thought a nice little sauce would have added something. Maybe a remoulade or mustard sauce, but we weren’t asked. Would be a good addition to the menu I think. Turning to the “new” menu we observed prices mostly in the mid twenties for entrees, appetizers in the low teens and salads below ten. Pretty much the same selections as always, at the top was the 31 dollar “Surf and Turf”, followed by a chicken, rib eye, (secret recipe) crab cakes, a couple of fish dishes (including a rockfish labeled “Atlantic” i.e., no PCB’s?) and a couple of sandwiches. I had always appreciated the fact that there was a vegetarian item on their menu, but none appears on the “new” one. When we asked our old friend server about that, she said that if one was desired, the chef would do the “bay scallops/gnocchi, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, Romano cheese” and hold the scallops. Hmmmmm.. Anyway, I selected the grilled mahi puttanesco with olives, artichokes, and tomatoes, and MFO took the Marinated Flank Steak Sandwich.

The food eventually arrived, and it was good, but not outstanding. My Mahi was about the size of a 3 x 5 card, cooked correctly, and perched atop the linguini that the Dry Dock appears to hold dear. The tomatoes were probably fresh, but still had skins and tops that were a bit problematical to eat. The dish seemed just sort of “put together” and wasn’t really harmonized if that makes sense. It was just an assemblage of stuff, and didn’t flow. The sandwich was appreciated by MFO. Service remained sort of distant, but adequate. Conversation among the wait staff continued.

At the time we left, we still were the only occupants of the bar, although a few tables were used along with the porch. For us, the old experience was gone; we were just another tab in the restaurant, Not among friends. I suppose we could rebuild the relationship with continued attendance, but nothing we saw last night would motivate us to do that. We didn’t fit. But, I would still recommend the Dry Dock, the setting remains one of the best waterfront experiences in the area, and the food is now reasonably priced and adequate. But, that’s only one visit in a long time. You can’t go home again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lite Wednesday..

Not a lot today..one liners...

June St. Louis Magazine cover: "cheap EATS - St. Louis' 35 most delicious dining deals". maybe a year (?)from now we can go back to looking for fine dining at any price instead of looking for something resembling palatable food for under 5 bucks.

Observation on 235 yesterday: US Foodservice Truck at La Quinta, and Sysco Truck at Rick's. Home cookin'...

Not out of business Bollywood has a lot of fans. Guess I'll have to take a Tums and go there. Apparently you can ask for "mild" food.. Pass the tandoori pablum please..

This saturday night, the Pax Rats are playing a special dinner at Corbels. The drummer of said group is a well known former GFTD for the Super Hornet. Reservations required. The flutters are planning on attending. Hopefully far away from the speakers..

The Ruddy Duck Brewery and Grill opens today at 4 (no lunch yet).

tired of "some may possibly be severe" weather. Think we've been lucky.. here's what we saw last night:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bread Trivia...etc.

Boy, the things you find out. Realizing that most people probably don’t give a hoot about struggling with bread wrappers, an alert reader did provide some information on that pesky inner wrapper of Pepperidge Farms bread:

“The reason for the inner wrapper on bread is that the outer plastic wrapper is gas permeable (as is the case with virtually all vinyl derivative plastic wrappers). The inner wrapper is a different kind of plastic that is not gas permeable and therefore keeps the bread fresher until opened. Unfortunately that kind of plastic wrapper has no strength and easily tears.”

The knowledge base has been expanded…

Got my Nth "barbeque issue" of Bon Appetit yesterday. Turns out it's the 14th of the edition that appears every July. Cover has some golden brown "Honey and Ginger Glazed Baby Back Ribs. One marvels at how they come up with "new" recipes for these things. I'll have to delve into the issue and see if there is anything interesting (maybe the Cuban Sandwiches with Zucchini Pickles, or the Beer Marinated Flank Steak with Aji and Guacamole).

Also came in the mail the Food and Wine's "Best New Chef" issue. Okay, but under that cover headline it says: "& their easiest recipes". Great. the march to "quick, easy, value (Cheap)" is right in tempo. Report tomorrow (or.....)

enough for a tuesday..


Monday, June 8, 2009

With Apologies to Mr. Clemens....

First, the “errata” section. The feeder humbly admits that reports of the demise of Bollywood were greatly exaggerated. They in fact continue as purveyors of (so I’m told) very good Indian Food in their little spot in San Souci. In driving by, I mistakenly looked at the vacant bay next to them and assumed it was they. And, you know what they say about “assume”. As a little bonus, rumor has it that a “dessert restaurant” might appear in that slot. Interesting concept. A niche place I guess.

And, speaking of Bollywood, I have never partaken of their fare, and in fact, I generally steer clear of Indian food. I know that the devotees of that particular cuisine speak in terms of layers of taste, sweet followed by hot, all that stuff, but on some occasions that I have experimented, I have had some rather unpleasant results. Somehow that food seems to attract people that like to see how “hot” they can eat something, and generally the restaurants seem to cater to that aversion. So, it’s not that I don’t like Indian food (I do enjoy some curries), it’s the fear of consequences that keeps me away. It’s sort of like Sushi, I need a guide who understands my tastes. How’d we get on that?

And, while we’re on the subject of openings and closings, I see from their site that the Ruddy Duck Brewery (and grill) on the Solomons is slated to open this week. Long awaited, it will be interesting to see how it turns out. The operations will be handled by veteran restaurateurs, so hopes can be relatively high. According to the site, they will have 8 brews available.…

Our “weekend” began with a quick stop in Leonardtown on first Friday for drinks and apps, a quick visit to Heron’s Way gallery to see one of the artists who we know, and then on to another obligation. Busy busy. Saturday we attended a wedding for the son of a colleague, followed by a reception. The feeder will keep his policy of not reviewing food at a friend’s event. It was a nice affair.

Interspersed with all of the above was multiple trips to the back yard to keep the gray lagoon free of grass in the works, backflushing, skimming, brushing, all those fun tasks that are not apparent to the people who frolic in pools. As of this morning, our resident ducks were there to thank me for providing a place to swim, and well, you know what else they contribute. Sigh

So yesterday afternoon after watching Mr. Federer attain his goal of a career grand slam, I decided to venture out to obtain some luncheon material. With time a bit of a factor I went for the closer Shopper’s (and Dietz and Watson) rather than drive to Giant (and Boar’s Head). Approaching the Deli counter I had to wait while the person in front of me got three orders of cheeses and meats. Why do people wait until they have their half a pound of turkey breast in hand before pondering if they want something else? Ummm, yes, I guess I’d like three-quarters of a pound of swiss, no wait, Monterrey Jack – what do you think honey?....Okay the swiss. Swiss in hand; Gee, do you think we should get some ham for tommy? Sheesh!!! Know what you want! Anyway, yet another aggravation of a deli counter ensued when I smartly ordered a half pound of Pastrami, eyeing a nice thick package in the case. Okay, she says and starts to rummage below the counter eventually producing the last end of a rather tired piece of Pastrami. As slicing commenced, the pieces became smaller and smaller until the last was about the size of a 50 cent piece. Should I have said “Could you open a new one please?” Probably. Anyway on a whim I cruised past the bread aisle and to my surprise was able to score the last loaf of Pepperidge Farms Original White! Somewhat buoyed by that, I scurried home and began to fabricate the sandwich. Now, as alert readers will recall from previous rants, I am a (reluctant) fan of Pepperidge Farms breads. But, why, oh why, do they insist on that second wrapper? About 1 mm thick, has anybody in the world ever been able to open it correctly at the seams without having it rip halfway down the loaf rendering it useless anyway? What are they thinking? After that expected outcome I assembled the sandwich which, due to the size of the pastrami was rather like putting together a jig saw puzzle. Fitting the little slices of meat on the bread so that they were evenly distributed (another sandwich rule is that the thickness must be uniform crust to crust – no mound of stuff in the middle). Anyway it proved to be a tasty sandwich and I settled in to watch everybody ahead of Tiger fold up shop missing 3 footers all over the place. Although to be fair, if you shoot a 65 good things might happen.

And yes, I know that 04 05 06 07 08 09 thingy.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Diversions....

It’s mornings like this that you really enjoy retirement (yes, I’m rubbing it in) – raining, gloomy, but you can be inside, savor your Latte and ponder life at a leisurely pace.

I love this place. Yesterday on my way home from last day of work for the week (I don’t do Friday’s), there was one of those omnipresent little white pickups (toyota or whatever) driving along with a load of stuff in the back (looked like an incremental moving operation). But, in this case the load of stuff in the back included some kind of dresser, and a person perched on the side of the truck bed holding on for dear life to a big flat screen. Priorities.

Restaurateurs take note!! Hold that summer menu! Use the other white meat! Captains! Sell your boat! Get out of the head boat business now! The Maryland Department of the Environment has warned us to “stop eating, or drastically reduce…intake of rockfish and bluefish caught in local waters”. The reason is that those fish are loaded with polychlorinated biphenyls, which we know better as PCB’s. Buried in the print later on, it does say it’s okay for adults to have 8 ounces of rockfish once a month, but pregnant women, women who could become pregnant, nursing mothers, (where have we heard that before?), and children should not eat it at all. Bluefish? 8 ounces every other month, and kiddies 1 ounce every other month. “Hey Mom! What’s for dinner?’ It’s our special meal tonight junior – that one ounce serving of Bluefish!! Don’t get me wrong, this is a serious subject, and everybody should decide what's best for themselves. You gotta die of something.

The Newtowne Players are going to have a series of one act plays starting tonight, and I noted that Aaron Meisinger, known locally for being an occasional server at Brome Howard Inn, interpreting Godiah Spray at Historic St. Mary’s city, re-enactor in several events there, is featured in one of the plays. Those who know and appreciate his talents are not surprised. He’s “on” most of the time anyway. Sounds interesting..

Yesterday was that bittersweet day when the cover was removed from the gray lagoon, and now begins the summer ritual of backwashing, chemicals, chlorine tablets, Ph, Polaris mechanics, brushing, skimming, anything but swimming. Incidentally I have finally found a pool outfit (we use for opening and closing) that is really good. References supplied – e-mail at home back channel.

Being Helpful: I have a friend who is looking for a (reliable) source of used vegetable oil. Some of the local Amish families use it running machinery in their shops. Ideas? I am going to contact some of the local restaurateurs…

(Approximately) One liners:

First Friday tonight in Leonardtown.

Reports of Bollywood’s demise might be pre-mature, more research needed. Stand by.

Headline in Sports section of today’s fishwrapper: “Ryken grads move on”.

Tomorrow morning at nine, a shouting match, er, I mean the women’s final of the French Open. Mute.....

Last word on speed cameras: they are mechanical, they may be inaccurate. One alert reader suggested a modification to the auto that would spit out a ticket each time it exceeded the speed limit. passion runs high. My last shot. If we observed the speed limit, there would be no tickets, no fine money to haggle over, and fewer accidents.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I don't get it...

Another short entry today..

And I really didn’t want to re-visit this subject, but it was pushed in my face again yesterday on the “evening news”. I just cannot understand this furor over “speed cameras”. The debate rages again whether they are for “safety” or for “raising funds”. It was reported that so far this year (I think in Montgomery County), the monies arising from the cameras have amounted to 15 Million dollars. It was further reported that the monies are required to go to road improvements and safety. Traffic deaths have dropped dramatically. Isn’t that all goodness? I just don’t understand the detractors feeling that somehow they are being cheated if a camera determines they are exceeding the speed limit. Why people feel that breaking laws is all right if you don’t think you’re going to be “caught” just doesn’t make sense..Okay, I feel better..

Sorry, i’ll try to stick to things foodie more..

And yes, I should have said Bollywood has closed “again”.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lite Wednesday...

Just a couple of this’s and that’s for a lite Wednesday:

After a pretty long hiatus, I had a chance to visit (the remaining) Linda’s for breakfast yesterday to attend a quick meeting. The place has changed little since my last visit, although I think they post the specials on little pieces of paper at each booth instead of the venerable white board. Otherwise, the bric a brac on the walls remain as well as the pile of stuff in the middle of the table. The what I suspect are “the regulars” came and went at the counter, each settling onto their assigned stool. The menu is a large laminated affair, making four people at the tables sort of uncomfortable. One side for breakfast the other for lunch and dinner selections. The breakfast offerings under “Linda’s Homestyle Favorites” includes all the classic standards, eggs with this and that (including scrapple!), creamed chipped beef or sausage gravy on toast, even breakfast steaks or pork chops. No weakling, fiber rich, healthy stuff here. Real old time hearty breakfasts. With only one server at the relatively early hour, service was slow, but since we needed to talk it was okay. The early hour also led me to select just an English muffin (soaked with “butter”), buy my companions took an (sic) “omelette”, eggs over easy (with scrapple option), and a breakfast sandwich. All came with “home fries” and looked properly artery closing, but were consumed with enthusiasm. Interesting place, with a society of it’s own.

I believe that Bollywood Masala is no more..

Oh, if you didn’t get a chance to watch the French Open tennis match between Azarenka and Safina, here’s a replay: uh UNH! oooo OO! eeee ee!! UNHHHHH! and some warbling thing that reminded me of the “keening’ you hear from various near east funerals and such. I am not sure how that improves your game. It’s very distracting.


Monday, June 1, 2009

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of...

Bread, and me. I like sandwiches. They are an especially nice thing to have for lunch. A wide variety of ingredients and condiments gives you lots of flexibility to create something nice to eat that you probably wouldn’t have at any other meal of the day. Despite what goes on the inside, there is a common ingredient on the outside: the bread. And, despite being the secondary player in the package, it’s extremely important that you do it right. It should be a supporting layer not the feature. Therefore the type and heft of the bread is important for a nicely done sandwich. Strong flavored middles like corned beef or pastrami are nicely partnered with rye (and please, not marbled), while a milder smoked chicken calls for a milder bread, probably white. Over the years, I have finally gravitated to thinking that (of store bought varieties) Pepperidge Farms “original white” is about right. Not too thick, not too thin, with a nice weight. As an aside, their “toasting white” is just great for melts, lots of little holes to soak up that clarified butter before you finish in the pan. The "sandwich bread" is beneath contempt, and don't even mention "very thin". Anyway so the other day I went into Shopper’s to obtain a loaf for lunch, only to find an empty shelf. Lots of “hearty” this, “farmhouse” that, “75 grain” all sorts of stuff, just no Original White. And other brands are not even worth looking at. So, I altered the menu for lunch that day. Next day, I happened to be returning from Leonardtown, so thought I’d pop into Giant and get myself set. Nope. Same story, empty shelf. I hope they haven’t stopped making it. One last note, always cut your sandwich on the diagonal, it’s much more civilized. Oh, and have the inside stuff at least as thick as the bread. Enjoy

Besides bread, I like electricity (in it’s proper place). It makes the house warm/cool, you can see at night, and it makes lovely little ice cubes for your cocktail. I don’t like outages any more than the next person, but it leads me to a dilemma. Last week I was driving down to the digs on Esperanza, and noticed one of those “non- SMECO” power trucks on the side of the road with a cherry picker extended, “working” with the trees. Their goal was to reduce the likelihood of an outage due to the branches whacking the lines during a storm. The result is that now a drive down Esperanza is like driving through a Van Gogh or Dali painting. Grotesque, misshapen, out of balance trees line both sides of the road so that a tunnel exists for the wiring. I kind of bet that the trees were there before the wiring, but they still pay the price. I don’t think the trees got a vote.

Quick sports note. And okay, I will be the first to admit that I’m probably biased here. Last Friday night I watched the women’s softball World Series game between Florida and Michigan. So, I freely admit to rooting for Michigan. I wish I could say the same for ESPN2. Apparently they decided that since Florida has had some success recently in other sports, they would “Feature” them. Florida makes a good play – tight shots of the Florida bench. Michigan makes a good play – another shot of Florida fans. I guess that there were no Michigan fans in the stadium, so maybe there weren’t any to show. Holly (I love cheeseburgers) Rowe interviews multiple Florida coaches, fans, and grins her way through all, using that overworked, idiotic phrase: “what was going through your mind when…” And I will be fair, I don’t know what it is with women’s softball, but why does the bench empty after every inning, mobbing each other like little league? It's like they never hit a home run before. More closeup shots of the Florida players grinning and dancing on the bench, along with general glee. How cute. Over the rest of the weekend, I watched more games, and that “I’m so happy” approach seems to permeate the sport. I suppose it’s preferable to a steely game face (such as Tiger’s), but boy they seem to over do it. And we watched again as Tim Clark resolutely refuses to win a tournament, and Nadal loses on clay for the first time in many matches.

Oh did you notice that Tom Seitsema in the weekend Post reviewed the “Founding Farmers” restaurant in DC that the feeder visited a while ago. While we both agreed that the service was spotty, Tom also didn’t like the food much. Pretty negative review.. one star.