Friday, July 31, 2009

Zucchini Redux

Yesterday's harangue on the elusive flavor of zucchini led to some interesting feedback, a very nice dinner, and great conversation. One reader sent a link that had some recipes for the subject of interest, copied here for your convenience:

Zucchini. Everyone wonders what to do with zucchini. Well, if you grow our Striato d'Italia or other zucchini varieties, you won't have to wonder how to get rid of them. They taste good, so they go quickly. Secondly, you treat them like an Italian. Eat lots of the zucchini flowers (prevent a zuke); pick them when small, no more than five inches and they are nice even smaller. For the bigger ones (up to 8 inches or so), go to # 3 below.

1. For the flowers, simply pick them when they are open, remove the stamens inside the flower, dip them in beaten egg, dredge them in some flour, then fry them in olive oil. You can also stuff them and then fry them.

2. For small zucchini, simply split them in half, marinate them an hour or two in some olive oil & minced garlic, grill them lightly.

3. For the bigger ones, do them as my mother did. Slice them on a diagonal @ 1/8 inch thick. Dip them in beaten egg, then seasoned flour. Fry in some olive oil until crisp but not burned. Add some salt & pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Another reader left a comment on the blog (now published there), but again copied here for your convenience:

Wash them, cut in to 3/4" “slabs” the long way
Soak in roasted garlic olive oil 3 minutes, season with fresh herbs S&P
Grill on pre-heated grill, yes the oil will create fire and char the Zucc so be carful - yes; it will taste good!

It was this last suggestion (note similarity to #2 above) that turned into a guest and the great dinner in which that recipe was tried. Amazingly, our neighbors were “out”, so our's came from Shoppers yesterday, but they were fresh and nice looking. Besides the Zucc’s we had a wonderful salad of sliced local tomatoes, some creamy blue cheese (instead of the more mundane fresh “mozz”) and dressed with fresh basil and some of the roasted garlic olive oil. The protein was (yes, I’ll admit it) a very nice marinated pork tenderloin, grilled. Some visuals to whet your appetite:

I will also admit that the zucchini’s were very tasty, with a nice smoky finish from the grill, and more fresh herbs –thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. The char on the zucc’s was a nice touch.

After appetizers, wine with the dinner we lapsed into a very interesting discussion on the subject of “flavor”. It certainly gave me something to think about, and may alter my opinion of the vegetable in question. Instead of focusing on the ingredient (zucc’s, squash, legumes, etc.) itself, the true evaluation should be done on the finished preparation. That is, (probably somewhat clumsily stated) one should be permitted to take into account the skill of the chef and method of preparing the dish before any judgement of it. Consider the whole, not just the individual ingredients. Therefore, although biting a hunk of raw zucchini may not be very rewarding, if you wait until it has been sliced, marinated, grilled and dressed, you might find that product very acceptable, a good dish that just happens to contain (in this case) zucchini. The method of preparation can consider the main ingredient, like say, mushrooms have nice inherent flavor so maybe just a light dusting of flower and sautéed in butter is fine. For the “milder” zucchini, maybe a more aggressive idea would work. I hope this makes some sense. What a great way to spend the evening.

Oh yes, the wine to go with the pork and veggies was dug deep from the flutter cellars. Good company deserves good wine.

And, since we were in residence, we compromised our

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vegetable Confession

Okay, I’m gonna do it. I have been working up to this a while, but have been afraid to really say it.. But I have to get this off my chest. Here it is: Zucchini’s have no taste. There, I said it. You wonder why your neighbors show up giving you handfuls of ‘em? Maybe there’s a pile by the coffee mess at work? Bags left on your doorstep? Guess what - people just want to give them away because they just don’t taste like anything. Lots of recipes try to make them into something, like maybe coating with batter and deep frying them. Just a vehicle for holding the tasty batter. Coat ‘em with Panko bread crumbs? Panko sure is good.. I know, let’s make bread or cake with them. There’s a flavor bomb! Stuff them with chicken? How about a beef pie? Anything to add some flavor. Just sautéed with butter and salt? Nothing. They sure are pretty, glossy green, firm, nothing.

Home grown tomatoes? Peppers? Fine. You can tell the difference. Fresh herbs? Wonderful - a world apart. Fresh zucchini?

Any recipes gladly accepted.

Even if you have the tasteless squash,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Words on a Wednesday

A short (well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way) post today while you’re “digesting” the salmon blitz of yesterday..(see posted comment to that)

Event O’The Day

In the never ending stuff to do department, there will be a (what may be a first for Lexington Park) book signing today at Blue Wind Gourmet. The book is: "Woman of the Vine" by Deborah Brenner, who started a consortium of female winemakers: "Featuring hand-crafted, limited production wines, Women of the Vine Cellars unites award winning women winemakers from around the world under one brand. It is the first art gallery of artisan women winemakers designed to showcase their individual styles and nuances of their regions." Ms. Brenner will be at the signing (and tasting) from 4:30 to 7:00…

Buzz around the park:

Bombay Garden, or whatever the name was of the place that arose from the “The Roost” has not surprisingly shuttered. In its place will be another in the growing number of “pub” themed places.. Good luck folks, I hope you have the money to lose. Doomed by location, location, location.

I guess “Rick’s Cheese Steaks” is still slated to be taken over by the other side, “Donovan’s Pub”. Whoops!! There’s that word again!

And hey! Let’s not stop there, the old Petruzzi’s has morphed into DB something, an Irish themed pub (is that redundant?). I have not heard any reports..

Lastly, word is that the Coffee Quarter in San Souci is trying to branch out from caffeine and offer beer, wine, and liquor, pending licensing. Didn’t we hear something like that about Starbucks?? Have belt or two, drink some coffee…

Interesting to note that all of the above seem to revolve around alcohol… I guess times are tough demanding drastic solutions..

Consumer Reportism of the Culinary Sort..

Received my “Cook’s Illustrated” yesterday (with pictures in black and white, unlike some blogs I know). I used to place this publication at the top of the food rags, but I think it’s slipping. The old “cooking for engineers” approach has dwindled somewhat, and now there are articles with titles like: “Foolproof Vinaigrette"; “Rethinking Sunday Gravy”; and “Secrets to a Perfect Cup of Coffee”. A good practice is to avoid any article with the word “secret” in it. Further, in the Quick Tips section, there’s this gem entitled: “Warming Coffee Mugs”. It points out that when pouring coffee into a cold mug, the mug absorbs heat making the coffee cool. Gosh! Really! Wow! I had no idea! And so they pass along a brilliant Tip from some guy in Nashville Tenn., who tells us how to put hot tap water into the mug while the coffee is brewing! Boy oh Boy you just can’t beat good old American ingenuity. Who would have thought..Epiphany! My life has changed...

And to pick up the consumer report angle, in the Notes from Readers section, there was a question about “What’s White Soy Sauce?” In the course of a (to be fair)pretty informative answer, they happen to mention their “favorite Soy Sauces”. They turn out to be those common household names which we all know: Lee Kum Kee Tabletop Soy Sauce (for cooking) and Ohsawa Nama Shoyu Organic Unpasteurized Soy Sauce (for a condiment). “Hey Honey! Stop by Giant on your way home and pick up some Lee Kum Kee – we’re running low”. All they missed was the little asterisk leading to the famous phrase – “Available in some specialty shops”. Yeah, right, like in Japan.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Fishy Story...

Through a curious series of (in this case) fortunate events, I came across an intriguing recipe for salmon which included Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise, which I think I passed along in an earlier post. It was included in a great little blog I found (through those events) created by “Kansas A.”, who lives in British Columbia on a cattle ranch. She has great photos and includes a running commentary on life in the mountains. Currently she's keeping a wary eye on a forest fire. You might enjoy looking at in once in a while.

Anyway, in one entry she included this recipe which sounded a bit different. Although she has the luxury of starting with her own fresh caught salmon, I obtained my fillet by battling the local traffic, waiting in line at the seafood counter, and suffering the usual checkout drill. Then, into the test kitchen, camera in hand (so to speak) and away we go. Ingredients:

Since the salmon is baked, removing the skin is necessary and is done by: a) asking the butcher to do it; or b) much more fun – do it yourself. It’s not hard to do, just get a suitable sharp knife a cutting board, and you’re set. Start by making a little slice on the tail end, and grab the skin in your left hand (or right, depending) and keeping the knife toward the skin, slice the skin away from the meat keeping a pretty good tension on the skin. It should come off fairly cleanly.

If you don’t want to prepare the dish right then, you can wrap the fillet in plastic and set it on a bed of ice in the fridge.

Next, assemble the coating (I whisked together equal amounts),

Arrange the salmon on a foil lined baking sheet (I used a little Pam as the recipe calls for), and coat it with the “sauce”, which I did fairly thickly with a spatula, put “lots” of soy sauce and then “lots” of the dried dill weed. Voila! Ready for the oven.

It was at this point that the intrepid chef got a lesson of his own. In his rush to get the dish in the oven, he completely forgot to take a picture of the assembled product – more to learn.

At any rate, after about 25 minutes in a 350 deg (convection bake) oven, it looks like this:

With the famous "serving suggestion":

We selected the Pine Ridge ’07 Chenin Blanc/Viognier which stood up well with the salmon. Since this was my first prep of the dish, I am not sure about the amount of Mayo/Salad Dressing to use. It certainly results in a moist, well cooked fillet, but we thought maybe it was a little much. I certainly would try it again and it’s very easy to do. Prep time was probably shorter than it took to create this! After putting away the camera gear and kitchen mess, I relaxed and

DFD'd and enjoyed:

Baked Salmon

Fillet it.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and spray a touch of cooking spray (Pam) on it.
Combine salad dressing (Miracle Whip) with mayonnaise (Hellman's). Or one of them if you don't have both.
Spread mixture with a spatula over fillets.
Sprinkle lots of soy sauce over.
Shake dried dill weed over both fillets.
Cook for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Makes for a very moist fish with a touch of sauce. Very good :)

From Kansas A Blog, Monday July 6, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend Wrap----

After the busy start of the early weekend, it concluded quietly. Saturday night, an intended test kitchen adventure fell victim to fatigue, and was postponed until last night (stay tuned, report in work). So instead of high cuisine, we did take out from the nearby Monterey. Despite carrying home dozens of their take out menus over the course the years, one can never be found when actually needed, so we just went up there. Kind of a quiet Sunday night, but still a few diners were there. With hundreds of choices to narrow down (hard to do in real time), we finally settled on Enchiladas Verdes and the Chimichanga Dinner. A short(ish) wait resulted in a big bag, containing two aluminum foil containers for the mains, two Styrofoam for the salads, and a big bag of chips with two sauces (what is that white stuff anyway?). The quality was as expected, no surprises either way, although it’s nice that instead of the ubiquitous ground beef, they continue to use real shredded beef which sadly I suppose one can get commercially. Don’t really picture them roasting up haunches of beef and shredding by hand. The rice wasn’t as overcooked as it usually is, and the “guacamole salad” was forgettable, wilted iceberg with dollops of guacamole and sour cream congealing everything into a tasteless lump. Chips were good as was the red stuff. White stuff (whatever it is) was nothing to speak about. The enchiladas and chimi’s were okay with a quick pop in the microwave to rejuvenate the cheese and sauces. You get what you expect (if you don't expect too much).

The rest of Sunday was sort of dissipated indoors with the return of summer like outdoors, so I saw the end of the Tour de France. The Versus live coverage fairly nicely done. Biker terms abounded – Peloton; KOM; “brought back"; “attack”; “sprint”. It’s a good thing that I knew who actually won, because later in the day the CBS network coverage (previously recorded) seemed more interested in the person who finished third than the actual winner. Thus it is always. Nobody cares about anybody but the Americans...

Then I watched the poor PGA folks struggling to get the Canadian Open in, dodging thunderstorms all weekend with the final (two?) rounds slated to conclude today. Highlight for me was an interview with Jerry Kelly wearing an “Original Six” NHL ballcap.

And so another weekend is done, the last one in July for heaven’s sake. I do have to find out where that time goes. And to start the week on a low note, I saw the first of which I suppose will be many depressing promos for that Julie/Julia movie. A preview of Meryl Streep cackling at the upper ranges of her register making a cartoon like caricature of Julia Child. Sigh......

She would have had you

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Early Weekend Ramblings

Friday, we began our (always extended – thank you retirement) weekend by a trip to Leonardtown to get MFO’s new cast applied. Do you know you now have a selection of colors available? Gone are the days of the white plaster monstrosity that everybody signs, we now have fiberglass in that selection of designer colors. From the palette, she chose the tasteful black, eschewing the hot pink option..

At any rate, it being lunch time we decided to indulge in “lunch out”, and selected Café Des Artistes since we haven’t been there for a while. The recent “construction” on the sidewalks in LT is practically complete and the new configuration allows them to have an expanded patio option out front. Given the rather sultry weather we chose inside seating and had a nice table toward the back of the room. As I have oft repeated, lunch is a special time for dining, especially if you don’t have schedule pressures. It provides that nice bridge between “the morning” and the long slide toward the evening and more involved dining. Café is a fine place for lunch, light, airy and always graced by the presence of the Jaffres who light up the room on their own. On this day there were many tables occupied, some of which were luminaries of the county. Good cross table conversation. We began with a very nice (after it had warmed a bit) glass of the wine o’the day, a Mondavi Chardonnay (that I didn’t make a note of) , but it was a nice deep golden color with hints of , well you know, all that fruity stuff. The luncheon menu has plenty of options, including some “specials” (times are still tough), but range from light to hearty depending on your inclination. There are several appetizers which could be enough (including escargot – it’s a French restaurant you know) right there, then salads and more substantial entrees, right up to a steak. Again, most are French (Quiche Lorraine, French Onion Tart, Croque Monsieur, etc.). The last was selected by MFO along with the Hearts of Palm combo, and I did the Omelet Du Jour with a Caesar. Both arrived hot and fresh, a crusty sandwich the log stack of Hearts of Palm, a creamy ham and swiss omelet and the Caesar Salad. At last getting to the whole point of this entry (sorry, I get distracted easily) was that there, on the top of the Romaine lettuce, croutons, and shaved Parmesan, was a nice filet of anchovy! An all too commonly left out ingredient of so-called Caesar Salads, it was right there on top as it should be. The dressing also reminded you that anchovy is an essential component of a real Caesar salad. Go look at any recipe for classic (of course) Caesar and you’ll find it every time. It just adds that piquant, salty, remind me of the sea tang that makes it. Let the “eeeuuuuuuu, I can’t stand it” folks order something else. A warm apple tart and coffee finished a classic lunch.

Yesterday (Saturday) we did go over to Sotterley Plantation and listened to Gus Kiorpes and John O’Rourke talk about their renovation work on the Slave Cabin which remains in place dating from the 19th century. It’s worth a look.

And after enjoying lunch, or a historical journey, take a shower and

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going to the Dawgs!!

Isn’t necessary, they will come to you!!

“Street Food” is an international tradition, but not so much so in America, and certainly not our Lexington Park here in Maryland. Food magazines abound with articles of exotic food available in places like Thailand, China, Japan, Mexico, etc., but I don’t think so much here (unless you count outside of ball parks, river concerts, special events, and the like). Somewhat of an exception is New York and Chicago and (?) DC, all of which are supposed to have famous “hot dog” carts with competition as to who makes the best, what’s on it, steamed or not steamed bun and so forth.

So it was with some enthusiasm that I became aware of “the Hot Dog Guy” last year over in Leonardtown (and the subject of a pre-retirement feeder report I think). With my re-entrance back in the work place I was pleased to see a little sign in the Exploration complex announcing that Thursday’s are “cart day” there. Sure enough yesterday there he was, setting up shop in the parking lot, and pretty well attended at lunchtime.

Half Smokes (which nobody quite understands what exactly that means, but are tasty), Brats, and (Nathan’s) Hot dogs are available as “The Coney Island”, The Chicago, and the DC, along with “loaded”, with chili or not, kraut or not, pretty much any way you like them. Tyler (On a Roll) Radez takes and makes your order on the spot, shown below deftly making a double, and is happy to chat with you if the line permits. Not only does he do “first Friday’s” over in Leonardtown, he now has expanded to the west side of Exploration (Thursdays); the Eastern side (Wednesdays), and also the River Concerts (Fridays). There may be other venues I don’t know about.

It’s really nice to have this kind of food service available, a nice change from the no eye contact Mickey Dee persons goofing up your order at the drive through (Thank you Joe Pesce), or non-caring service at one of the mid chains, but a real person doing real food right in front of you. We need to support this kind of effort and make it a go. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a Chicken Satay vendor one of these days.

Anyway, yesterday Mr. Radez had a “special” of a “Reuben Dog” which consisted of said (Nathan’s) wiener on a roll (not marbled rye thank goodness) along with a slice of Swiss, kraut, topped with Russian sauce. Pretty creative eh? Of course being a “special” kind of guy myself, I went for that. Turned out to be a pretty tasty variation on the traditional American classic hot dog. Sided with some chips, it made a very tasty lunch:

Prices are very reasonable, around 4 bucks. Seek him out…something different --you'll like it!!

Things to do this weekend in the land of nothing to do:

Friday River Concert – “The Real Deal” the piano of Maurizio Moretti; Rossini, Brahms, and R. Strauss.

"Shakespeare in Hollywood" – Newtowne Players, Lex Park (thru Aug 9.)

A Lecture about the Slave Cabin Restoration At Sotterely Plantation – Saturday 10:00 AM (regular fees apply). The lecture will be given by the restorers (John O’Rourke and Gus Kiorpes). An interesting note, both of their wives have restaurant experience. The Flutters will be there (including MFO and her new cast)

Tidewater Archaeology Weekend At Historic St. Mary's City – – see real archaeologists get all worked up about getting dirty. You can help too! Great kids opportunity. Regular admission applies here as well.

St. Clements Island History and Heritage day – (Saturday only) See the Blackistone Lighthouse, games for kiddies, music. Free.

Or, go out and have a nice dinner…and

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't Bother

slow creative juices today. Just some medical advice from a loyal reader..

For bird flu, one needs tweetment.

For swine flu, one needs oinkment

after visiting the doctor:

more this weekend

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Worst...

the things that pop into your head.... just a short wednesday note:
I think (at least one of) the worst intersections here in lovely burgeoning Lexington Park is when you would like to go south on Route 235 from eastbound Route 4 coming over from Leonardtown. If you don't get smashed by somebody trying to get into First Colony (never mind that red light), you then may get nailed by somebody coming out of WaWa who would like to go north on 235 having to cross your intended path (or have to wait while the moron blocks your lane). Safely arriving at the actual intersection, hazards include: the timid "I don't know how to merge" driver sitting in the right turn lane waiting for the never happening clear lane; or, "I'm carefully merging, but somebody decides they want a slurpee and cuts across your nose to get into the Rte 235 entrance to WaWa; or, that U-Turner who feels that all 4 lanes are required to execute the maneuver; or, if you survive that, you might get a scare from the person(s) exiting WaWa to go south. We won't even mention trying to navigate inside the compact WaWa, another day. Oh, and if you survive the complete passage you can't let your guard down because those needind a caffeine fix are ready to dive into Starbucks. It's always something...keep alert, don't get hurt!

after traffic,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I know where I was....

40 years ago yesterday/last night. I was in the “big green chair” in our house in Normandy, MO. A chair which we still have incidentally. I still don't understand the "one step" quote exactly. Did he intentionally leave out "a"?

Admin Note: With the added duties of dishwasher and cook on top of my part time job as a flutter puke, publication may become a bit more sporadic and most likely more brief for a little bit here…..just bare with me, bear with me? Hmmm... anyway you get the picture...

I can’t help but comment on the outcome of the British Open last weekend. As we often comment afte a lip out or something: “golf is a cruel game”. After watching nearly 71 holes of careful, steady, and thoughtful golf, Tom Watson at last fell victim to his old nemesis: the 8 footer. That putt has more or less plagued his entire career. Maybe it’s fitting somehow. It wasn’t the tragic collapse we suffered through watching Greg Norman melt down in the ’96 Masters, but it will forever be remembered in the annals of golf. “I shoulda hit the 9” will go down in history. Perhaps it’s not “right” that a 59 year old should win at a young man’s game really, but oh, my gosh, what a story it would have been. Still is, really, but not for the reasons you would wish. I hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he never recovers. Funny thing about golf, it’s just you, the course, the ball, and the club. There’s nobody throwing something at you at ninety miles an hour, no big linebacker trying to take your head off, Federer isn’t serving at you over a hundred miles an hour, no little guard shooting out of his mind 3 pointers, it’s just you. Your outcome is totally in your control (or lack of it, in my case). It may be the only sport/game where there is no opponent that can affect your results (mountain climbing might be another – but we won’t open the "what's a sport" argument here). There was nobody to blame but himself. It was there, only needing that par. Just wasn’t to be, and he’ll have to live with it. I hope he can get over it. I suspect he will eventually, he is the quintessential gentleman of the game. Sure was painful. Shoulda hit the 9, Tom.

And, more locally, just what we need: another restaurant in San Souci Plaza. I may not have the name exactly right, but something like China Garden II is moving into the spaces previously occupied by the Pizza Hut whatever it was. Another cuisine joins the international lineup available in the little plaza. We already have Thai, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, and American, but I don’t think there is an out and out Chinese option there until now. One stop world dining!

Lastly, a couple of weeks ago a loyal reader with an educated palate asked for restaurant suggestions for an upcoming trip to St. Louis, and I put Tony’s at the top of the list. Bless his heart, he was able to dine there, and I’m pleased to report he thought it was wonderful.

And of course, he did

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Saucy Little Story...

With a forced re-commitment to the kitchen due to MFO’s temporary outage, I decided to debut with some grilled pork chops. Brined, rested, and rubbed, I committed them to the hot (a euphemism in my case) grill for marking, then finished them off at a lower heat. All that effort resulted in the feared but not unexpected tough hunk of protein. Tell me again what’s so bad with fat?

Anyway, that created some leftovers and, after some consideration, I thought maybe by slicing the pork thinly and using a little sauce to provide some liquid, it might make a passable dish. After some looking around at resources, I found a simple sauce that turned out well and even came up with a nice little kitchen technique (at least for engineers who cook).

The sauce was termed “Mustard Tarragon Sauce” and was part of a Roast Pork Tenderloin recipe, so at least I was it was for the right (other white) meat. Here’s the recipe, with simple ingredients and prep:

Mustard Tarragon Sauce

2 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
¾ Cup Heavy Cream
½ Cup (sic) low-salt Chicken Broth
2 Tbs. Chopped Tarragon

Boil cream, broth, tarragon, in a heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with pepper.

And therein lays one of my perennial cooking dilemmas: that dreaded phrase: “reduce to”. It’s either “by half”, or “to about”, or “until…”. It drives me nuts. What’s that? How do you measure “about”? Possessing no real cooking talent, my hope for success lies in the belief that if I follow the recipe exactly, the results will take care of itself. Which is probably why I’m doomed to writing about and appreciating good food rather than creating it.

So, upon pondering the “reduce to one cup” requirement, I came up with an idea. I got my reduction pan (which I don’t like very much because it’s tippy when empty), and filled it with a (carefully measured) cup of water.

I then took a wooden spoon, inverted it into the pan, and noted where the water level was on the handle,

then used my trusty pocket knife to carve a little nick in it at the proper level.

I then assembled the ingredients for the sauce. I used fresh tarragon from the garden, heavy whipping cream, Swanson “All Natural” Chicken Broth – note no mention of low sodium – and Gray Poupon. Not pictured is the mis en place wherein everything is measured before the actual fabrication begins.

So, dumped all in the pan, brought to a nice boil, and metered the reduction with “the stick” until the (non-boiling) level creased the mark, and, voila! A very good sauce, with great texture and a nice kick from the mustard and tarragon. I using the fresh tarragon is essential, and maybe the sauce would be further improved with real chicken stock instead of from the box. A possible application – and example of the sauce:

I think this sauce would go very well with poached salmon, maybe a nice twist on Eggs Benedict, and certainly if you could get pork that tasted like anything, it would be a nice addition to that. If you wanted a more formal presentation you could strain it to get the little bits of tarragon out of it. Try it. It’s easy and good (as much as I hate to use that “easy” word, but it is). If you use the “reduction meter” tip, remember that it is only good for that pan…but there is more than one wooden spoon.

And, after you construct the sauce, whatever you use it on,


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brief Thursday Thingies...

A respite from harangues and rants today, as it will be spent tending to the needs of MFO after surgery on her hand yesterday. Ice, pillows, meds, and bandages will be the order of the day. That, and oh by the way, the British Open is on TNT out of the corner of my eye..

I get my own medical stint this afternoon as one of my last natural teeth will surrender to a crown. chew on the other side, please.

We did have a nice country dinner last night of a ham slice grilled with mesquite smoke and a pair of eggs perched atop. It paired well with orange juice.

Saw the Eagle this morning patrolling the shore.

life rolls on maintaining

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why me.....?

To paraphrase a famous (Mark Twain?) quote about stupid people, the problem is not that boors exist, it’s that I always wind up sitting next to them. Such was the case at last night’s Bastille Day Wine Dinner at Café Des Artistes. We were seated at a nice table along the camera wall, but next to us was a six top containing said person. It seemed that the person’s only reason for attending the dinner was to impress all the companions (and those within earshot) with a grand and extensive knowledge of travels, likes, and dislikes of wine. “Holding Court” comes to mind. “I remember a nice little restaurant in….”; “As I was talking to the chef…..” ; I’m sure you get the idea. That’s another problem with dining in a restaurant; you can’t control your neighbors. Of course if it’s bad enough you can ask to be moved, but that’s pretty difficult in a crowded place. You try and try to shut them out, but it can be difficult. Okay, enough of that. I feel better.

Besides the distraction it was a pretty good dinner. I found out (from Chef Loic) that there is no traditional food for Bastille day, such as we might say ribs and barbeque go with our Independence day. In fact, in France Bastille day is considered a day to celebrate with family, it’s not a restaurant day. Food would be “whatever grand mere cooks”. Regional foods most likely. Our menu consisted of 5 courses and dessert. 3 were seafood, a salad, and “Cuisses de Canard Braised au vin Rouge”. It is left to the reader to figure out what that dish is. A hint: “cuisses” is French for "leg". The meal began with a welcoming glass of sparkling (petillant) Jacquere from Savoie. A little lighter than champagne, but it had a nice yeasty nose and although not overly bubbly, it did have a refreshing dance on the palate (sorry). That was eventually accompanied by a Basque Calamari Salad, with little rings of squid in a somewhat spicy sauce with lightly sautéed peppers and onions. I thought that might have been the dish of the evening, but MFO disagreed and thought the second course of a smoked trout over “taboule” (tabouleh) containing black forest ham. It was also very good, but I liked the calamari a bit better. The trout was served over a very nice Zind Humbrecht 2006 Pinot Gris. I was surprised at the depth and color of the wine. Not the usual pale color you get with most Pinot Gris, this was a deep straw color, and did in fact give hints of apple and pear, with a long finish. It was explained that Alsatian wines have to be 100% of the varietal.

Speaking of which, at this point, I should mention the ubiquitous “wine guy” that occasionally populates these dinners. This time, it wasn’t just some distributor rep, and I won’t name names but if you’ve been to Port of Call on the Solomons, you might have seen him. At first he was a bit much, but as the evening wore on (and the wine was poured) he seemed better. He did have quite an extensive knowledge of wine and geography, and although he did use the dreaded “fun” word it somehow wasn’t as obnoxious as I have heard it used in the past. I don’t think I heard “a fun little wine” even once. In fact all the wines were solid representations of their heritage. All French of course. Bordeaux was probably the only big region left untouched.

After the trout we had a “Napolean” of tuna and sliced squash, an intermezzo of a berry Granite, a nice salad with Gougeres and finally the (you know by now) braised duck leg, which was served with a tart of morels and baby fava beans. Which sounds much better with its French “Cuisses de Canard Braised au vin Rouge et Tarte Croustillante de Morilles aux Fevettes. A 2007 Chanteneuf du Pape from Domaine Paul Autard was an excellent pairing. The wine was a deep ruby color, full fruit flavor with still some structure and tannins. I believe Mr. Parker thinks it was worth 90 plus of his points. All in all, I thought the wines were above the quality you usually get at these types of dinners, and of course we were afforded the chance to purchase some (one of the rights of passage). Above average wines carried relatively respectable prices. None below 20 as I recall, but they were well chosen.

As to the service, it was good. Tables were served at once, almost full glass pours, seconds were offered (or thirds if you wished), and thank goodness you could trade in your fork with every course. I know there were perfectly good reasons why, but we did have to use the same glass for all the whites, and it was replaced with a red glass for the remainder of the reds. Small pitchers of water and dump vessels were provided, which help, but there is nothing like a clean glass.

A very nice event, made more pleasant by the presence of Chef Loic, and his charming wife, who gave me a lesson of the use of Bon Jour, Bon Soir, and Au Revoir. If only that person at the next table……

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bonjour and Buongiorno!!

Happy Bastille day! That being said, all i have to report today is a quick recap of Sunday's visit to Momma Lucia's up in Dunkirk. Senses dulled from the Saturday road trip I left my sunglasses in my friend's car which returned to DC. So, after retrieving MFO from BWI we diverted slightly to meet up with him at Momma's to get said glasses.

I think i talked about the place before, as well as the offspring in Prince Frederick, neither being very positive (culinary) experiences and this one didn't change my mind. Even though it was reasonably early (~5:45) on Sunday night, they were fairly busy, with lots of families and young couples. I gotta get some DFD cards made up. For clarity, when I admonish "Dress For Dinner", I don't mean you have to have jacket and tie all the time, but dress appropriately for the place you're in. Informal? fine, a golf shirt and wash pants (do they still call them that?); local bar? clean Levi's okay, maybe a snappy T-shirt; fine(r) dining? now we're into a collared shirt and slacks, up to that tie and jacket. Harmony, honor the food. Anyway, in Momma's there were families with dad in a muscle shirt and ball cap that remained welded to his head, and son was a dirty T-shirt with another ball cap (apples/trees). Another pair had on rather filthy cargo pants with about 15 pockets and another grubby T-shirt. To be sure there were also people appropriately dressed, but it makes for a not very pleasant atmosphere. At least the wide screen TV was on closed caption.

The server was pert, and didn't share her name, and pretty much did a good job. I still don't like the "can i get an appetizer started for ya?" as a second greeting, but i understand the thought. Anyway I got what turned out to be one of the worst glasses of Pinot Grigio I've had lately (after it warmed from it's frozen serving temperature and i could taste it). After thrashing about the menu for a while, MFO ordered some "stuffed shells" and our friend got a "grilled chicken salad" and I meekly ordered the veal piccata again. Ours came with a side salad, and while I usually complain about too little dressing, this time the the salad was covered with a thick blue cheese like dressing that pretty much obliterated any chance to taste the greens which was probably okay. MFO's french dressing was delivered as slathered honey mustard which she accepted when the server said "oh, that was supposed to be French (about my only homage to Bastille Day i guess). When the food arrived, I got three gray little rounds of protein that had some odd texture that was sort of bumpy/grainy with a gooey coating. All this over a mound of spaghetti that no normal human should/could consume. MFO’s shells were good enough and the grilled salad wasn’t as dressed and was also pretty well received. I think maybe the lesson was to not only dress appropriately for an establishment, but also order what might be an appropriate dish. Don’t challenge the kitchen.

We’ll be attending the Bastille Day dinner over at Café Des Artistes tonight. Then tomorrow is MFO’s hand surgery and I’ll don the whites as cook and bottle washer for a while. That should produce some good material (if not food)..

Think, then

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thyme on the Weekend....

We had a long awaited meshing of schedules Saturday, and a friend and I were finally able to take advantage of an invitation to visit the home of some friends near Culpeper, Virginia. They had taken on the restoration/rehabitation of a 19th century farmhouse, and after years of battling termites, sagging floors, and learning about shoveling cellars, it was finally finished and ready for visitors. We left the digs and had a pleasant drive over the “Nice” bridge, and through a bustling Fredericksburg (Lexington Park in 15 years) and into the rolling countryside so rich with Civil War history. An interesting sidelight was that we decided to take a "shortcut" to Route 3, and wound up behind a crawling line painting truck for a good half hour. The first car in line (we were second) was a young man in a growling brilliant metallic blue Shelby GT, who became more and more frustrated glaring at the “Do Not Pass” emblazoned on the back of the creeping paint truck. Veer halfway out, come back, fall back, screech up, gun the engine to 4000 Rpm, you get the picture. Finally we crossed some side road with about 6 numbers designating it, and the last we saw was a fishtailing Shelby screaming off to who knows where (I hope he did). Anyway we finally arrived to find the house south of Culpeper.

Our hosts were peacefully rocking on the front porch when we arrived, and after a well received Mimosa and cheese interlude we toured the house. I normally hate the word “charming” and maybe words like “tasteful” or “harmonious” would be better, but it probably applies here in all its good senses. With some of the interior walls removed, it’s quite open and light, and each room shows a deft touch at decoration and attention to color and detail. Lovely antiques, along with appropriate fabrics all coordinate into a nice home. They can be proud of their efforts. A sample of the interiors:

Refreshed by the Mimosas and tour, we adjourned to the car and headed for Culpeper proper. The “old” section of town is given over to many restaurants, gift shops and other upscale venues. After a short tour of the historic stuff we retired to “It’s about Thyme” a favorite of our hosts. It features “European Country Cuisine” and is situated on the busy main street. The area was one large rooms, with what I guess might be “European Country Scenes” painted on the walls, a tin ceiling which provided for a rather noisy room. We were seated at a table near the rear, which not only reduced the noise a bit but also an excellent place to see the operations. The bar was next to us, and our hosts pointed out the clever painting on the wall that made it look like it was recessed. Probably more so after a couple of cocktails. Anyway, our hosts being “regulars” we were soon approached by the owner/manager, and learned that he was a restaurateur for many years, starting in Delaware. Our server (no name games) right up front announced that some of the luncheon specials were no longer available (it was 1:45 by now), but said alternatives were available. For instance the lunch special poached salmon salad was gone, but chef could prepare an alternative with smoked salmon or grilled tuna. One feature which I would urge other venues to adopt was there was a little slip in the menu listing the day’s specials so he doesn’t have to recite and us immediately forget.

The menu itself offered several alternatives, soups and salads, sandwiches, pastas, and main courses, all with reasonable prices (most <12 bucks for anything). Each had a tidy description of the dish without listing which farm the green beans came from or unnecessary adjectives. For instance the Roasted Chicken (main course) was: "chicken stuffed with fresh herbs and garlic roasted and served with a greek salad". Not: "a slow roasted succulent free range, organic chicken with an assortment of carefully selected local Momma's garden fresh herbs and succulent garlic".. Ham sandwich? “Country bread topped with ham, swiss cheese, tomato and bacon; warmed in the oven & served with béchamel sauce and a house salad. Budda bing, budda bang. And, since one of us had that sandwich, the description was exactly what appeared on the plate (the sandwich, not the description). Other orders were the poachless salmon salad with the tuna option, a roasted pork/au gratin potatoes, and after a longing look at the Salad Nicoise, I chose the smoked salmon version of the salmon salad as being somewhat lighter.

Service was prompt and attentive, although the service staff seemed driven to keep your iced tea/water glass full to the brim. Sip – fill. Sip – fill. Sip – fill, which resulted in a lot of arms thrust at the table, but that’s kind of a nit (I always notice nits). The manager was not just there to gain accolades, he circulated and observed. “bread on 12”. “Check for table 8” I like that. He knows what to do. Our food arrived, and portions were generous and nicely plated. I had four rolls of pepper crusted smoked salmon that was delicious. It wasn’t that bright pinky stuff you see, just a nice pale pastel that had just the right amount of smoke. The greens underneath were good, although probably a little late for local, but maybe. What must have been local was chunks of tomato that (I’m sorry, trite time) "exploded in your mouth". Boy they were good, and had me rooting among the greens for them. Also a nice touch was that chef added some red onion and capers (smoked salmon – right?). Perfect. All the others enjoyed their food as well. Passing dishes revealed portions are indeed hearty here. Service remained bustling (sip – pour) but several eyes fell on your table as each passed and things were cleared properly, or sugar papers neatly picked up. What a concept.

Given the hour, we eschewed dessert, but looked at the tray anyway. These "presentation" situations are always awkward for both presenter and presentee, but I really think it would have gone better if she didn’t just point and say “Right here we have…..” and then went around the rest of the tray by rote, with eyes looking everywhere but at us. Maybe she knew it was futile. Anyway, it was a great lunch in a great little town. Worth a visit. We also visited a little gourmet shop that had some nice wines and cheese. There were several other restaurants, one of which “Foti’s” which is sort of an outpost of the Inn at Little Washington. Perhaps on another visit.

After that, we visited “the Graffiti house” a house dating from the Civil War that was discovered to have walls “signed” by various soldiers of mostly the Confederates. The docent had a story for almost every signature and drawing. Fascinating stuff.

Even on the road,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Read the Program.....;

It’s my fault. I should have looked. It was Friday evening, unusually great weather, and what do the cognoscenti of St. Mary’s County do on a lovely Friday evening in July? They go to the River Concert! So without any further research I agreed to meet some friends at “our usual place” on the lawn and enjoy the concert. I got there fairly early, finagled my way into “preferred parking”, eschewed the offered program and schlepped the chair and bag o’wine and staked out our little regular little compound. Increased attendance requires an earlier and earlier arrival if you want to sit in the same area (which most do from week to week). So we settled in, sipped some wine and greeted friends, waving to those you can’t get to. Eventually Maestro Silberschlag announced the start of the show, and introduced Larry Vote, the “guest conductor” for the evening. Juggling wine and slicing cheese and sausage, arranging crackers sort of got in the way of actually listening to any patter about the evening’s performance, and finally the music started. Beethoven? Vivaldi? Nope some sort of a frothy “waltz tune”. Hey! Gimme that program! And there, in bold print at the top of the page, for all to see was “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein”. Too late and too many folks to run for the exit. One of the criticisms of the River Concerts has always been that the music is “too modern” or “too heavy”, and that does carry some weight as not everybody likes Copeland and Mahler. So maybe this was the Concert for the Masses. What followed was at least 24 selections from R&H musicals, like Carousel, Sound of Music, State Fair, South Pacific, The King and I.. Just as in cuisine, not everybody has to like everything, and although I know there are devotees of musicals, I must admit I am not one of them. It was pretty painful for me to sit through the entire performance.

And, as in food and restaurants, harmony and sense of place is important in music. There was just something incongruous about a baritone, a tenor, a soprano, and mezzo soprano in tuxes and evening dresses backed up by a full formal orchestra strutting about the stage singing about his boy Bill, opining: “he'll think I can lick Ev'ry other feller's father” or that: “You c'n keep your rig if you're thinkin' 'at I'd keer to swap Fer that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on the top!”. “The Hills are Alive…” is okay for Julie Andrews, but maybe not appropriate for classically trained vocalists. To borrow the vernacular, “it jest ain’t rite". Thank god I didn’t have to hear “I’m jest a gurl who kain’t say no”. I’m sure it was no accident that the finale was “OOOOOOOK-La-hoMA where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain” with all four of the soloists locked hand in hand. At the end, they did a reprise with a standing audience of Marylanders singing homage to a state which most have probably never visited. (Wonder if outdoor concerts in Tulsa end with a standing crowd singing Maryland, My Maryland). Obviously I was in a minority, but I’m going to have to read that program a little more carefully.

Leaving music out of the equation, it does remain a great social evening, you always see some regular friends, make some new ones, and occasionally overhear some interesting conversations. The “food court” provides a pretty broad array of choices, although leaning pretty heavily toward the heavier end of the spectrum with lots of barbeque, sliced sandwiches, kebabs (veggie option here), along with dessert options. The “hot dog guy” we know from “First Fridays” over in Leonard town. A quick diversion here, he sets up shop in the Exploration/Wyle complex in Lexington Park on Thursdays, and I had a very nice “loaded half smoke” last Thursday, and it was a very nice dog. He features “Nathan’s” products so that’s a pretty good pedigree. At three or three fifty, it’s a pretty good bargain also. Anyway, there are only three more River Concerts, so if you haven’t been to one, you should try it. And, I’ll do for you what I should have done for myself, next week’s program is “The Young and the Gifted”, featuring principal players of the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra, with Katherine Heilman (oboe) and Zachary Silberschlag on trumpet.

And lastly (whew!) a quick food comment. I was up in Waldorf yesterday obtaining same for the birds, and after dropping a neat C note on them (four bags), I stopped in at the nearby Einstein bagelry and picked up a couple “everythings”. As I consumed it this morning with cream cheese (NOT the “light” variety mind you), I have to say I would give them the nod over the Panera offering. A more biting coating of onion, garlic toasted stuff on the exterior and a more pleasing interior with just the right amount of “chewiness”. Panera’s lean toward more like “bread in the form of a bagel”.

Okay, enough, have a good weekend (depending when you read this) and, as always,


Thursday, July 9, 2009


Did you know that this evening, at forty eight minutes and thirty six seconds after seven it will be 7:48:36 7/09/09?


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MJ and.... Fish

Okay, I’ll join the fray. Yesterday you couldn’t watch (or listen to) any sort of media without being bombarded by coverage of the (funeral? Celebration of Life?) for Michael Jackson. The Macbeth quote comes to mind of: “nothing in his life became him like the leaving it”. Somehow the fact that millions of adoring fans existed prior to his departure escaped me. Yes, I had heard the Jackson Five and they were cute in their time, but I must admit I never had much taste for his music as he matured, if that’s the term. I really didn’t have anything against him, he did things in later life that made me wonder, but his larger than life stature was unknown to me. Then yesterday I was forced to see Berry Gordy (of Motown fame) pronounce that MJ was “the greatest entertainer that ever lived”. My goodness! Ever! That’s a tall statement. Ever is quite a long time. But then I thought, “well, just exactly what is an entertainer?” Merriam Webster says that it is one who does entertainment, and entertainment is defined as:

An amusement or diversion provided especially by performers b: something diverting or engaging: as (1): a public performance (2): a usually light comic or adventure novel

A "performer" is defined as "the action of representing a character in a play, or b: a public presentation or exhibition.

One site i visited linked Entertainer and Celebrity. So, I am still confused by what is really an "entertainer". Does Frank Sinatra qualify? John Barrymore? John Wayne? Charlie Chaplin?

Not sure where Entertainers stop and Celebs begin, but that certainly expands the horizons. Anyway, to say that MJ is the greatest of all time seems just a tad bit overstated to me. I just hope than now we can let everybody rest. Whoops! Hold on...just where is that casket going.. Stay tuned for the never ending story!!

Fish Part:

One of the blogs I follow is by a lady who lives on a large cattle ranch in British Columbia, has 3 kids, 6 dogs and pigs, chickens, etc. She includes a lot of photos in her blog and it’s kind of fun to read. Yesterday she had a post about salmon fishing (actually netting), and included a recipe that caught my eye. To wit:

Baked Salmon
Fillet it.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and spray a touch of cooking spray (Pam) on it.
Combine salad dressing (Miracle Whip) with mayonnaise (Hellman's). Or one of them if you don't have both.
Spread mixture with a spatula over fillets.
Sprinkle lots of soy sauce over.
Shake dried dill weed over both fillets.
Cook for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Makes for a very moist fish with a touch of sauce.

The “caught my eye” part was the combination of Miracle whip and mayonnaise. Never heard of that before.. of course she has her salmon fresh from the river, and ours is from Giant.. Oh well, I might try it anyway..


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Menu Speak..

Post and time short today…

An alert reader sent me a link to a story about “phrases that should be banned from menus” – here’s a sampling:

--"Shrimp Scampi"; "Eggplant alla melanzane"; "With au jus"

Respectively interpreted as "shrimp shrimp"; "eggplant in the style of eggplant"; and "with with juice."

--"Homemade [anything]"

Whose home? The busboy's? Restaurant food should be made in the restaurant.

--"Grilled to perfection"

What is perfection? Can you boil cabbage to perfection? We want a stove with a "perfection" setting.

whatever you read,make sure you're


Monday, July 6, 2009

Forth on the Fourth

WARNING: if you are seeking Michael Jackson tickets you have reached this site in error.

Sheesh.. don’t turn on the telly until after Tuesday. Too much!! Nuff said.

Return to normal content:

A busy weekend on the Nation’s Birthday, starting out with the River Concert at St. Mary’s College Friday night. I was “working” in the adult beverage booth for a local charitable organization, and it was by far the busiest concert I’ve ever experienced. Pouring from beginning to end, needing a run for more wine in the middle. People were sitting in places that have never been occupied in years past. I couldn’t hear the music (they mercifully removed the speakers that have been blaring in years past) but the fireworks were nice. Always a good place to see friends.

Out of chronological order, but I spent a couple of sessions doing docent work at the reconstructed Chapel down at Historic St. Mary’s City. I suppose it’s not news to anybody who works retail or something, but it never ceases to amaze me about people. It’s so fun engaging them in conversation and finding out about them. During the course fo the weekend, I met an Architect from Annapolis, an Archeologist from (somewhere), and a couple of families interested in tracing their ancestors. One set was looking for the St. Josephs Cemetary which was located by a quick call to MFO, the expert. I also met a couple from Britain that said that in his country (tongue in cheek – I think) that July 4th was called “Thanksgiving”. Fun stuff. Everybody has a little different interest in the Chapel, some want to know the history of the original; others are more interested in how the reconstruction worked, who paid for it, and so forth. You just keep talking until you find out what interests them the most. I also am confirming my theory that as you age, you develop more interest in history. It always seems that the golden agers are most passionate about it. And, it never ceases to amaze me that some people just walk down the trail, glance at that imposing and beautiful structure, and just keep going. To each his own, I guess. Drop by and see me sometime, mostly in the pm on the weekends.

Saturday night we watched the fireworks from the backyard of the digs, accompanied by some neighbors and friends. I think there were more aquatic watchers than ever before also, with boats almost coast to coast in front of us. Fireworks technology seems to continue to evolve as this year there were some that formed an outline of a star upon detonation, others had concentric circles, along with the usual cascade of glittering fire. Not quite talented enough with my new camera, so I borrow a shot from a friend..

In general, culinary interest took a back seat to other events, although we did have a nice dinner of “Bill’s Brats” over the holiday, they are the best. Only Johnsonville please! MFO also made some appetizer tartlets of caramelized onion, walnuts, and blue cheese that were quite tasty. I was going to attempt my yearly batch of ribs, but maybe the subject of another entry.

I also had a back channel note of a dining experience of a friend that I’ll pass along. An order of (Wasabi) sea scallops was delivered to the table, and after enjoying the first one, the diner was surprised that the meat of the second was pink. Uneasy about consuming it, she left it. The staff asked if something was wrong, and did the right thing by offering a replacement (and even took something off the bill), and along the way the manager said they get about 4 or 5 occasionally in the bags they get and nothing was wrong with them. I did a little poking around, but I am unable to find any helpful information. (Googling “pink scallop” reveals there is a pacific ocean variety, but I don’t think it applies). Anybody have a similar experience?

Also we see that Joey Chestnut retained his dog eating trophy at the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest last saturday. He gobbled 68 of them (with buns) in 10 minutes, besting second place by 3 and a half wieners. Looks like the "Black Widow" is fading as she came in 6th.

So another July 4th weekend comes and goes. Breakfast at Wimbledon was enjoyable with that epic match between Roddick and Fedderer, and Saturday’s edition of the screaming match between the venerable Williams sisters, Ho Hum, Tiger wins again while his opponents “fold like a cheap lawn chair”. Life marches on. C’mon Labor day!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Food and Film?

I sort of think there are (warning! – generalization follows) two classes of people in the world of culinary arts. There are those that dedicate themselves to producing good food, nicely presented and pursue their career with that objective. People like Thomas Keller and Alice Waters come to mind. Then, there are those with sort of the opposite objective, letting food and cooking be the source of personal gain – the “it’s all about me" crowd. Just look at the box of Triscuits with Rachel Ray grinning at you. Or Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette) who parlayed her food blog into a column, then a book, and gosh, now she’s just “too busy” to really do the blog anymore. Me, me, me. And, I suppose there is sort of a middle ground here, there are those that started out with the first objective, and after establishing themselves on that basis, sort of grew into the “media” side of things. Jacques Pepin and Julia Child would be good examples of this. They used television primarily to further an interest in good cooking, bringing classic techniques to everyone. It is left to the reader to figure where Emeril belongs.

So it was with some interest that I noted the editorial page of the latest Bon Appetit was headlined: “Why Julia Still Matters”. Hmmm, interesting (her 97th Birthday is this month). The first paragraph starts out with praise for Julia’s accomplishments, mostly about her life in France where she developed her classic “Mastering the Art…” book. But then, a quick transition in the 2nd paragraph informs us that we will now be able to see more in an upcoming movie, called “Julie & Julia”. What's this? Well, the “Julie” part turns out to be somebody named Julie Powell, a(nother) blogger who decided to cook each of the 500+ recipes in Julia's “Mastering” in one year in her “small New York kitchen”. Gee, you think she did that for anything else than personal gain? Well, apparently it worked. They somehow forced a movie out of it. The column goes on to say that it is a “light, frothy, romantic comedy”, and further “Julie and Julia is a luscious fresh peach mousse after a menu of gravy-laden main courses”. At this point my stomach began to churn and those proverbial hackles arose on the back of my neck. I could barely keep reading. Somehow, they roped Meryl Streep into playing Ms. Child, and it’s directed by Nora Ephron, whom some will know is a noted foodie. Give me a freaking break. And, guess what? All through the Bon Appetit issue are references to “the Movie”. Party menu (with Julia's recipes) : “August is a big month for Julia Child fans, On the 7th Julie & Julia, a movie inspired by her life opens”. Another place: “the essential Julia Child – To Cook: (her Mastering book); To Read: “My life in France”, then To Watch: Julie and Julia. Give me another one of those f’ing breaks. I just wonder if Conde Nast has some bucks invested somewhere – ya think?

To portray Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) in a “frothy, romantic comedy” with some silly person is just abhorrent to me. Hey – let’s use Julia’s name and we’ll fill the theaters with foodies! Oh, and by the way, we’ll give little Julie top billing. I hope Julia is looking down and is chuckling while she prepares some silky sauce. Why Julia Still Matters? That enough of us learned from her the importance of good food and love of cooking and that we know what’s important. This isn’t.

Dress For, go have a nice (French) Dinner, and stay out of the theater. That would make Julia happy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday Lite...

A lite Wednesday entry today, with just a little (personal)chuckle from the dark disrespect intended…

I was grumping to one of my psychological crutches the other day, and I was reminded that at least I could say I outlived Michael Jackson and Billy Mays..

And speaking of the former, I never cease to be amazed at the audacity of the so called "media". A few months ago, they were vilifying Mr. Jackson, story after story about alleged activities with children, mis-managed finances, strange behavior, and general weirdness. Then, the guy passes, and Boom! all of a sudden, he’s the “legendary entertainer”, the “best performer ever seen”, and other fawning coverage befitting a saint. Sometimes I just don’t get it..enough already. Let the poor man (and us) rest.