Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Blahs...

Well, here we are again on Monday morning. The feeder had hoped to be able to report on a weekend filled with three star meals, preparation of intricate and delicate sauces, attendance at wonderful concerts, but alas, the cupboard is bare. A planned trip to the “original” Stoney’s sort of fell apart and we didn’t do it. What’s left is just a few observations and some up’s and down’s.

Glass half full:

I did join a friend for lunch at Corbels on Friday, and we enjoyed great conversation, very nice food (crab cake, Caesar salad (with anchovies), dessert and coffee). If you can afford the time, a leisurely lunch is quite a joy. It was an interesting contrast to the St. James Pub lunch of the previous day. Not better, not worse, just different.

Saturday we had a big day on the river. Early in the morning, three brown pelicans cruised by, occasionally dipping into the fish boils, and then later in the morning MFO shouted: “Dolphins!”. Sure enough, there were maybe 6 or 8 escorting a sail boat by the digs. That was a first ever observation for us. What was it Yogi said? “You can hear a lot by just watching” or words to that effect, you get my drift.

Yesterday I spent some time being a Docent (and a decent one at that) at the re-constructed brick chapel at Historic St. Mary’s City. It’s fun to be able to tell the story of the history and the re-construction, but what is most enjoyable is chatting with the visitors. You find out the neatest things. You also get some good experiences. Like yesterday toward the end of my “shift”, a young couple negotiated their way over to the Chapel pushing a baby stroller. I did the usual greeting, and when they were near enough to read my name tag, the father said: “Hey Honey!! That’s (me)!!” Turns out that he is employed on the base and was an avid “Bottom Feeder” reader in the old days. That was fun. Also had one couple that was sure they knew more about (anything) than I did, asked a question and then proceeded to answer it for me. Really? Gosh, that’s neat! Thanks for coming..

Glass Half Empty:

I probably should stop watching “the news”. All it does is depress me. I know news is news, and usually involves bad things happening to people, but it is depressing. Like Friday they broke that story about the person held hostage for 18 years. Good grief. And, you get no relief from the commercials either. I guess they think their audience is aging, feeble, and infirm (not far from the truth in my case), but most of the ads are for some drug that “may be right for you”. The tremendous advances in medical technology have come up with wonderful drugs, but holy cow – the side effects! “tell your Doctor immediately should you experience searing pain followed by death”. Grow old. Be natural.

If I hear the words “mission critical” one more time, I’m going to be sick.

Glass filling up

Some interesting plans in place for today, which if they come to fruition will provide more interesting content for tomorrow.

Which is September!

And, today is our XXth wedding anniversary!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Lunch, Learning, and a Note

Re-visited St. James Pub yesterday for my monthly lunch with old cronies. By the time we left, every table was occupied and people were standing around waiting. They must be doing something right. But yesterday, I think they did do something a little wrong. Although the white board did contain the Gyro as it did on my last visit, I decided not to be in a rut, and ordered the Tuna Melt which means I got back in another rut. At any rate, it came with swiss. I believe that a classic (if there is such a thing) tuna melt should be cheddar. And it came on rye bread with caraway seeds. The filling was good and hot, and quite tasty. The fries served should have been left in the fryer a bit longer as they were kind of limp and pallid. But, hey, the atmosphere and clientele was just right, including the guy sitting at the bar showing more of his backside than you would have wished..

Then last night I attended another "cooking class" over in Leonardtown. An enjoyable and informative evening. It so happened that I took a quick cocktail at Corbels before the class, and sat next to a couple at the (lovely) bar who came down from Deale to attend the class. Word gets around! Jeff Jeffries (of tavern/woodland grill fame) was the chef of the evening, and so those of you familiar with Jeff know it was a fun time. We had a Belgian Endive salad, some "easy" lobster bisque, a salmon en papiotte, and a Brandied Fig Vanilla Pudding with toasted hazelnuts. All of the dishes could be prepared at home quite easily. Curiously, through some sort of communication glitch we wound up with salmon steaks instead of filets. Remember the red things from when you were a kid? Those sort of crosswise sections of the fish you hardly ever see anymore. But, they still tasted good. And mercifully, "yummy" was not in attendance.

The Ruddy Duck was talked about in today's enterprise. The "reviewer" echoes most of the things I get back channel. I have heard that some acoustical baffling has been recently installed which should alleviate one of the main complaints I planning on a visit next monday as part of a civic organizational social whoop la..not a real feeder visit. Besides the Duck article, he has discovered Solomons! Stop the presses!

Not aware of any biggies in the area this weekend. enjoy your last weekend of unofficial summer..

THE NOTE - in an effort to streamline the flutters home computer network, somehow part of the mail system got disrupted and the Feeder missed several e-responses which deserved replies. Apologies for that, but i think it has been ironed out. Now that he is somewhat removed from the mainstream, those responses are greatly appreciated.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


of how your political glasses color your view of Ted Kennedy, at least you have to admit that he pushed Michael Jackson's circus off the airwaves for a while..


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This's and That's for Lite Wednesday

Okay, all you home cooks, we're saved again by technology. Here's a scenario we've all been in many times: You're kneading that dough, or removing bones from a chicken, or trussing that pork tenderloin, and both hands are covered in sticky flour/chicken goo/pork fat (which rules). Lets clean up. Oops! Turning on the water is problematical without transferring the flour/etc., to the handle. Ever tried the elbow trick? Worry no more. Those clever engineers at Delta Faucet have saved us! They've developed the "touch faucet" that all you have to do is put your forearm on the faucet and it starts!! What a great idea (price not mentioned)!. Check it out.

And, although I've roundly castigated Julie and Julia (okay, without seeing it), it has had one good effect. Julia Child's landmark book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" has risen (once again) to the top of the best seller list! Anything that raises the desire to cook (correctly) is a good thing.

And, no, eagle eyed readers, I don't know why Bok Choy is under Hispanic Famorites in the supermarket..

and, lastly a bumper sticker seen in The Park:

"Envision Using Your Turn Signal"


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We Are The World!!

It’s a curious thing. Here we are in Southern Maryland, which for years was sort of a closed society/culture, mostly staying unto itself. Of course that has changed over the years with the advent of “the Base” which has brought in “outsiders”, with various cultural backgrounds and tastes. Another curiosity, as we’ve noted before, somehow our little San Souci plaza is turning out to be an International center. We’ve counted many times the various cuisines available (maybe not so authentic) from far eastern, to latin America, etc., etc.. what did we count? Some 13 or 14 different countries represented? Well, guess what, it doesn’t stop at prepared food service. Right in the midst of all those restaurants is a great source of ethnic food products:

It’s not quite as exotic as those street markets you sue, but if you are a bit selective, I believe that Shopper’s has the best produce section in the city. Of any nationality.

But what is really neat is that they not only have the usual stuff, but have created special sections devoted to specific cuisines such as:


And if you go look at the produce in those sections, there are things (at least for me) I’ve never seen before

For instance, I would have no idea what to do with a bitter melon. Or what are those “leaves”?

Presumably they sell the stuff, as the supply always seems fresh. I know the clientele I’ve seen in the store usually reflects the multi cultural produce available. And, it doesn’t stop with the fresh stuff either. There is a huge selection of worldly ingredients that are dried, canned, packaged, and bagged.

Been wanting to get those Manzanilla pieces (available at some specialty food stores)?

Harking back to the thing about “best home cook” in America, I’ll bet you could find some pretty darn good ones in those aisles. Despite my bent toward French cuisine, it’s always amazing what a variety of food and preparations are out there. I suppose I should expand the Feeder’s horizons. An idea has been kicking around in the back of my head that I should "eat" my way around San Souci (which, as near as I can figure, loosely means “care free”) Go figure.

And whatever is on the table, make sure you


Monday, August 24, 2009

Say it Ain't So!!

August 24, 2009

Tucked down in the lower right hand corner of the first page of Sunday's Wash Post Travel section there was a little story with the tag line: “ An Unsavory Holiday in France”, by somebody named Zofia Smardz. It began with a statement about how much she enjoyed being back in France and settling in at a corner brasserie with fond memories of previous travel in France: “wonderful, cheap food, everywhere you went”. Okay, check, so far so good. Agree. Continuing on, the more I read (it continued on Pg 3) the more my eyes widened and the hackles (whatever those are) rose on the back of my neck. The basic premise was that the “wonderful cheap food” was no more. After that initial statement, she began a descent into criticism – “how could the food be so….awful? My onion soup was a pale, watery broth. I swallowed the cheese in one spoonful and eyed the few sad onions slivers floating in the bowl. My husband’s grill platter looked greasy, and, well, kind of gross”. Goes on to say in a week she had one good, never mind great, meal and did admit she never ate in any starred restaurants. “The food wasn’t always bad, but it was reliably mediocre. Uninspired. Blah.” Pretty strong words and very unsettling.

Then, to reinforce her point, she goes on to refer to a book by Michael Steinberger called “Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France”. A quick check finds that he does have some chops, and is a wine editor for Slate magazine (which, incidentally, is owned by the Washington Post). The closing sentence of the article was a quote from the plane ride home from hubby: “I can’t wait to get back home, to have some really good French food”. Well, then.

I am not sure how to react to all of this. I shared her exact opening opinion on good food everywhere, but to be truthful I haven’t been to Paris/France in many years. Our experience was exactly that. You sat down at any little café or bistro, and the food would be wonderful (by our standards). The best meal of my life was in France. Not being there lately, I can’t judge. I wouldn’t want to believe it, but maybe she’s right. But, should we trust her palate? Is she just making a buck? Shilling for that book? C’mon, lady, tell us where you were. Name some of the places you went. The article does retreat a little saying if you plan well, have some contacts you can find good food, yadda yadda. It cites statistics about the closing of hundreds of “little places”, and things like the French don’t take time anymore, they go to McD’s. I would not want it to be so, but as much as I don’t like it, things change. I still view the French as the creators of my favorite cuisine (note I didn’t say it was “the best”). I guess she doesn't have to go back.

wonder if they

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Snippets

August 23, 2009

As summer winds down, heat induced ennui has dulled the creative juices and resulted in a lack of blog postings lately. For same reasons, a slowly evolving piece regarding food has languished in preparation, but perhaps soon. So to alleviate any withdrawal symptoms (on both our parts), here are a few things to think about on your Sunday – hopefully not during more torrential downpours.

Speaking of weather, we had a “red in the morning, sailors take warning" sunrise the other day

Which portended Saturdays results of:

It also resulted in ye olde editor dashing outside during the height of the storm, risking life and limb, to drain water from the gray lagoon as it almost reached rim full. It’s always something.

Friday, the cast from MFO’s left arm came off to be replaced by a welcome splint affair that allows it to be removed for a time. A welcome change. Anyway, on the way back from the doc’s digs, we stopped off at Staples to get some boxes for the record collection project. It was fun to see several groups of kids of varying ages with their Moms wandering around the store with very official looking lists of paper, pencils and the like, mostly with Mom with a look of grim determination and the kids resigned to the fact that summer was over. Get that Number 2 Husky (bring back any memories??)

Then we spent an enjoyable Friday evening, first by attending the lecture series at Sotterley to hear the Patuxent Riverkeeper talk (and talk and talk and talk….) about the river and sources of pollution and some of his views on remedying the situation. It wasn’t by just picking up the beer cans. I won’t emulate him by belaboring the point. After that we drove cross county and had a pleasant light dinner at Corbels, meeting several friends. Those kinds of evenings are nice. Crab cake sandwiches, a Halibut dish and some “tuna towers” were all nice. Friends and food are a great combination.

Speaking of food (which we often do here - and this is a bit of a stretch), any thoughts of grilling outdoors last night were washed away (see rain gage) , so we opted (okay, okay) a quick trip to our McDonalds to be ignored by the service staff at the drive through, eventually leaving with a pair of their new “third pound Angus” beef burgers. They are indeed different from the usual quarter pounder with cheese (although the little yellow square is still evident) and we also got one with the “bacon” option. I didn’t deconstruct same, but the “bacon” didn’t seem like it just came off the pan. Had that odd stiff texture instead of real pork fat floppiness (a technical term). Taste was okay, size definitely bigger that the qpwc and it had fresh pickles not the soggy version of the qpwc. Something different. Instant food like material.

Speaking of burgers, all you Red Robin fans can rejoice, and get out your sawbuck per burger, the said chain has obtained it’s permit for the new Waldorfian shopping center across from First Colony. Yippee. Oh well, it will give another chance for yet another burger review. You can’t always eat Foie Gras..

Hang on HoGo, maybe we'll someday get that In N' Out

And speaking of permits, one was also issued for the local construction of……Neiman Marcus?......Nordstroms?..............Macy’s? Nope. Wrong culture. We’re going to get a Kohl’s. we just don’t seem to break the mold do we….

And don’t succumb…ALWAYS


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Shorty..

whilst working on a larger piece not yet ready for prime time, just a couple of quickies for a Thursday (gotta keep the flame alive!!)

La Cucina Italiana is rising fast on the list of feeder approved food mags. It has lovely photographs, recipes that sound very good (mele fritte con nocciole e uvetta; costolette di vitello al sedano) and articles that are not just veiled ads for Italy. For instance in the current (sept/oct) issue, there's a great article on salumi (know what culatello is? bresaola? finocchiona?) with lovely photos and descriptions. Find out what is and how to make Lardo di Colonnata. Great little article on chickpeas..a good read..and none of the "when you're here, you're family" crap.

A field report from a diner attending Brio's (in Tyson's). Had the "Bricked Chicken" and said it was great. (check out cover of September Bon Appetit)

okay, the muses and myself have to drag into work for a while today. How do you people do that?? ha ha

more substance tomorrow, or.....


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Shocking Story....

The flutters had a nice evening last night centered around wine (gee…) We joined a small group of friends to mutually view the movie “Bottle Shock”. As MFO and I are not “movie people” we were among the minority that had never seen the film/DVD. As probably most of the alert readership is aware, it’s a dramatization of that famous wine tasting in 1976 which resulted in putting California wines “on the map”. More specifically it centers on Chateau Montelena, and how its Chardonnay walked away with first place in the blind tasting by some of the allegedly best wine noses/snobs in France (Pierre Tan, Raymond Oliver, etc.)). A bit overdramatic in places (well, it is a drama after all) it was great viewing.

What was even neater was that we were able to drink some of the wine featured the movie (different vintage obviously) during the viewing. We started with the ’07 Napa Valley Chardonnay, and later on moved to the ’05 Cab. Both wines were very good and didn’t need the movie for any “props”, and starred in their own right. The Chard is not overoaked, and very drinkable. I’m not sure of the pairing, but it tasted damn good along side of KFC fried chicken (another link to the film). Finished off with the Cab, nice sipping to reach the end of the drama. It was amazing that the quality of the movie went up as the level of the wine in the bottle went down…

Any movie with Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) is probably worth seeing, and he played the opinionated English wine store owner (Steven Spurrier –no relation) who came to America with pre-conceived notions of wine in the colonies, and got his eyes (and palate) opened. He tasted around Napa/Sonoma and (according to the flick) may be the reason why we now pay for tastings there. Anyway, a great actor. Also fun to see Freddy Rodriquez (6 Feet Under) as a maverick and dedicated wine person making his own wine on the property of “Mr. Garcia” played by the always regal Miguel Sandoval. Ch. Montelena’s financially beleaguered owner Jim Barret (Bill Pullman) was “saved” by his coming of age hippie son “Bo” played by a long haired Chris Pine (Star Trek - ?), with romantic interest provided by a perky summer intern “Sam” (Rachel Taylor – of no particular previous fame). The whole package is a feel good, all's well, lots of laughs experience.

I’ll stick to restaurant/food reviewing but if you’re a wine person, a great evening would be a bottle (or two, or….) from the Chateau, a bucket of The Colonel's best and a DVD of Bottle Shock.. and if you do it at home, you just might not have to


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quandaries, etc..

Contrary to popular belief, the feeder's days are not always totally absorbed in high dining, elegant food preparation, tasting first growth wines, and generally whooping it up. Rather they are sometimes spent running errands, cursing and being cursed by local drivers, and general upkeep on the digs.

Meaning, that not every day produces a chance for eloquent posts for the blog. Not wanting to waste your time on silly things, and posting just to post seems not the wisest thing to do. Presents a quandary . Such was the case yesterday hence no posting, and almost the same today. Maybe just a few little thoughts and observations..

The latest Food & Wine issue is entitled "Home Cooking at its Best". The editorial page (an aside, do you think Dana Cowin has ever eaten a cheeseburger in her life? she looks almost anorexic) begins by allowing as how this is the year of the home cook, due to lessons from TV chefs (make your own opinion here), the availability of fresh and local ingredients, and the rotten economy have "converged to inspire talented amateurs to raise their ambitions and try new flavors in the kitchen" yadda yadda. So to honor "all the talent out there" they are launching a contest to find "The best home cook in America". I ask you. How silly is that? That's like looking for the best crab cake, or the best chili - there is no "best".

I would suspect that the best home cooks in America are probably to be found among a population that doesn't read Food & Wine, and most likely is somebody who struggles to put food on the table and uses things from a local market or garden, and uses recipes and techniques handed down from mother to daughter over the generations. There is such cultural diversity across our nation resulting in the myriad of cuisines served in countless homes, that singling out a "best" home cook is dumb. Can't be done. I suppose all the wanna be's and foodies will foam at the mouth, grab their Cuisinarts and fill out the forms, but the real best "home cooks" won't be found by this magazine..

On a bit lower plane, last night as we nibbled on our carry out (too much heat, cutting grass, restoring order to the digs, etc.,) we tuned in to the Antiques Road show because Monday night football was trying (do we really have to listen to "Jaws" all season?). We have discussed this before, but while the objects and appraisers are always interesting, in never ceases to amaze us who brings this stuff in. Some have appreciation for what they have, and just want to find out about the bowl that grandma had for years, but then there are these people with glazed eyes who appear to have no real interest in the objects except: "how much can i sell it for?" Some obtain really beautiful things, but they have absolutely no knowledge or appreciation of them. There was one person last night who had a painting, and when asked who the artist was replied "I have no idea". The expert appraiser then pointed to a rather legible signature on the bottom of the painting. Sometimes, ya gotta wonder.

Okay too much about not enough, I may have a chance to do something interesting this evening which might provide better material tomorrow.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Head for the Hills!!

The people at the Weather Channel are beside themselves with glee. They can hardly contain their enthusiasm as they can now get out those self appointed “Authority” slogans, Ana has spawned!! We get almost minute by minute updates as Ana slowly churns across the atlantic….. “Now! The very latest on Ana: – it has moved three quarters of a mile since out last report! – Stay tuned for more developments!”

No doubt, so far this year we have been lucky/statistically below average/fortunate that we are in the middle of August without some named storm to cause concern. Those of us who are living near the water always worry this time of year. Sort of like the east coast version of west coast fires and earthquakes, middle America tornadoes, and upper states blizzards. We all have our trials.

Anyway a bit more cause for concern is that the next one in line has been dubbed “Bill”. Kind of unsettling for people with fragile egos and a penchant for odd coincidences. We’ll hope that that Bill doesn’t want to visit another one..

if he does, i'll have to

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blog Bonuses....

Well, the Feeder started off what was to be a leisurely Friday morning by once again succumbing to a failing that seems incredulous, but has happened to me more than once now. You would think that the last thing you would do is to start your coffee bean grinder without the little plastic thingy in place to catch the grounds. My latest version of a grinder has no interlock (as did the former one – now trash) to prevent doing that. Add that to the fact that the grounds are pretty highly charged with static electricity and you have a very nasty counter top on your hands. Sigh, it’s always something.

At any rate, here we are on a Friday morning (coffee now in hand) and ready to face the weekend. It turns out that there are so many things one could ramble on about that one could fill up multiple blogs.

Blog one: By the time we got to….“Where were you 40 years ago Saturday morning?”, and go on about Jimi Hendrix, the Dead, etc. What a time, a legacy and good music. what a long strange trip it's been....

Blog two: Happy Birthday Julia!! And rant (which I won’t) about that stupid movie that seems to have dropped from sight although (in a rare fit of fairness), I have heard good things about Meryl Streep’s “interpretation” of her, and less than favorable comments about that other person. The real Julia would have been 97 Saturday. Bon Appetit, miss Julia...and thank you.

Blog Three: Ringing the Bell!… Last Wednesday, after enjoying the “Wine/Art Wednesday” I returned home and joined MFO in watching a “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast that featured Joshua Bell. Alert readers will remember my joy and astonishment in listening to young Jonah Yeh perform earlier this year down at St. Mary’s College. Although Joshua Bell is world reknown, I think this may be the first time I’ve actually seen him perform. Of course I’ve heard his music many times, but to actually see him perform it opens a whole new dimension. Of course I forget the actual piece, I believe it was a Mendelsohnn concerto and it must have lasted 15 or 20 minutes. No music in front of him, eyes closed occasionally he seemed to actually enjoy the music as much as the people in the audience, but he was doing that while making it. Amazing. Alan Alda (who seems to be turning a bit senile) did an interview with him. Not affected at all, just a nice guy (Joshua). No need to comment on his musical ability – except that in his youth in Bloomington, Indiana apparently he was quite the tennis player. Talent is Talent.

Blog FourWhat about Pot? Last night after MFO and I went to the little open house for the proposed archival/interpretive center at St. Mary’s College, we kept a reservation for dinner at Brome Howard Inn. BHI is one of the brighter stars in our little constellation of fine dining places here in Southern Maryland. If you want a quiet, leisurely dining experience this is your place. It’s good that all of our “stars” down here offer a slightly different type of atmosphere (which I won’t enumerate here – maybe Blog X for another day), that allows you to sort of suit your mood with your dinner. Here it’s almost like eating with family, because somehow you always strike up a conversation with other diners, and the presence of the always gracious hostess/owner Lisa Kelley keeps things running smoothly. Anyway, as the other half, Chef Michael Kelley is occupied with his new venture Ruddy Duck, there is a new chef in the kitchen at BHI. We were quite satisfied with his efforts, as we shared a mushroom crostini, mussels in garlic lemon broth, a stuffed chicken dish and rack of lamb. Noting MFO’s current condition of one armedness, the kitchen kindly cut up the chicken and arranged it very nicely on the plate, saving me destroying it in front of everybody. A nice bottle of ’06 BearBoat Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley was very nice.

We decided to accept the offering for dessert, and opted for the Pot Du Crème. It arrived in a large cup (with two spoons), a richly flavored custard topped with a fresh strawberry. I got to wondering what the difference was between Pot Du Crème and Mousse was. With a little research (emphasize little) I think it has more to do with how the custard is served than what it is. The key is the “Pot” part, there are traditional vessels for the purpose. The recipes for either the “Du Crème” or Mousse are quite similar, milk, cream, whisked eggs chocolate flavoring. Anyway it was a nice ending to a nice evening. Dining out is rewarding..

And it goes without saying we were

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Short Subjects

Mid week doldrums continue, not too much to talk about today.

Had a great evening last night at the "Art Wednesday" event. Besides seeing a bunch of old friends from work, the artist (Joan Humphreys) and Ken Korando, the owner and winemaker at Solomons Island Winery, were there with his debut offering of "The Artist Series" wines. It was a 60/40 Cab Franc/Merlot blend, and if you like fruit in your wine this one's for you, a real wine of substance. A nice sipping wine and would also go great with food. Like maybe foie gras. Which led to a great little discussion about foods that sound awful, but actually are great. Like that foie gras, or head cheese (that souse I learned about), black pudding, tounge, brains, that sort of thing. I rememered my introduction to sweet breads in a restaurant in New Orleans whose name of course escapes me. It was a hot venue at the time, and wasn't one of the venerable ones..Interesting subject.

For locals only, tonight there is a little open house down at St. Mary's College to acquaint people with the plans for the Heritage project, which will eventually turn the current Anne Arundel Hall into an archive, and a little museum (as I remember). It will be in the Glendening Annex, sort of on the back side off Matapany road. 4 until 7..

after that, we'll be dining at one of the local fine dining spaces, so we'll be


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quote o'the day..

In my never ending quest to expand my historical knowledge, I am slogging through the book "The Great Rehearsal", by Carl Van Doren. It's the story of making and ratifying the Constitution of the United States. It's kind of tough reading, not exactly a page turner. Anyway, I'm currently reading about the differences between the "small" and "large" states, and the debate over how representation and voting should be implemented in the house and senate. It's full of quotes by famous men, Washington, Franklin, etc. But here's one that caught my eye about the matter by Madison:

"Would it be wonderful if, under the pressure of all these difficulties, the Convention should have been forced into some deviations from that artificial structure and regular symmetry which an abstract view of the subject might lead an ingenious theorist to bestow on a constitution planned in his closet or in his imagination?" James Madison, The Federalist No. 37, January, 1788

Um, could you please go over that again for me, Jim? whew.

Off to the day job, and see you at Blue Wind Gourmet tonight..and i'll be


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buzzy Tuesday

Am going up to the metropolis of Waldorf this morning to attend to an issue with MFO's cast, so still allowing you time to digest your steak breakfast of yesterday, just some local buzz today:

China Cafe II is open in San Souci, that burgeoning hub of international cuisine. Be interesting to count the varieties.. Japanese, Chinese, Indian, New/American, Mexican, Thai, and if you let Pizza into the mix, Italian. Wow. Did I miss any?

I hear the Pub in Leonardtown is up for sale...

From a flier about the capability of one of the local Volunteer Fire Departments (you can't make this stuff up!): "We also use thermal imagining units in an array of tasks......"

a form of "Wine and Art Wednesdays" is going to be resurrected at Blue Wind Gourmet tomorrow night. Joan Humphreys of Water's Edge Studios will be displaying her art along with the painting that was used to form the label to debut Solomons Island Wineries "Artists Series" wine series which will feature labels by local artists. Think that wine will be available for tasting also.. see ya there.


Monday, August 10, 2009

A Tradition Like no Other...

Hah! Gotcha! it's not golf related....

Think back to the town you grew up in. I’ll bet you can remember that somewhere, probably on the “older” side of town was a kind of a run down brick building with maybe a tank or a field piece in front of it. And close to the road there’s always a sign sort of like this:

In most towns in America, you can find an American Legion Post and it's highly probable they’ll have a “night”. Steak, Shrimp, Taco, Fish and Chips, Spaghetti, you name it. When a fine dining place does it, it just isn’t right. But hey – American Legion? You bet – it’s traditional. We were invited by some friends to join them and theirs for “steak night” down (it's always "down") in Ridge on Saturday night, and we accepted. As Southern Maryland residents know, Ridge is a special place, roughly pronounced “Reeidge” in the local vernacular. Not far from Scotland Maryland,(the home of Tubby Smith), Ridge hasn’t changed much (except for lack of tobacco) over the years, and has more or less remained true to historical Southern Maryland. You’re an outsider if you live north of 235/5 intersection. So we were happy to accept an invite to join up with their party to enjoy dinner. It’s in that classic American Legion hall style, a small brick building with the appropriate beer signs in the window.

You enter straight into that bar, which had a flat screen glowing in the corner. Due to the relatively early hour, I was hopeful of catching the final few holes of the Bridgestone Invitational, but apparently more people were interested in the NASCAR going’s on, so that was on. Silly me. Anyway, after walking through the comfy bar, you pay your 13 bucks garnering a little red ticket to prove you’ve paid, and enter “the hall” (which doubles as a bingo venue), with the Legion materials on the wall and the game tables are covered in oil cloth with setups for the "night".

Pick your folding chair and settle in, maybe “playing” the placemat while waiting for friends or food.

There is a side table with tea, water, soup and salad and condiments. (A1 being one of them).

Eventually one of the “girls” (more later) comes and asks you how you want your steak cooked, and if you want a baked potato (or not), green beans and/or corn. Our order taken, there was time for conversation. In this venue, I think social considerations outweigh the culinary interests, and most people there seemed pleased to just sit and talk about the neighborhood and catching up. The majority of our group were long time residents and I learned that some of them had made their living being butchers. I heard all about butchering a pig, and using “everything but the squeal” for scrapple, chittlin’s, and something called “souse”, which was new to me. An inquiry resulted in the information that it was the boiled feet, ears, (etc.,) and sounded like it resulted in sort of an aspic with "undesirable" parts of the swine. Most of the ladies said they were not fond of that product..

Anyway, one of the "girls" arrived auctioning off our steak dishes on melamine plates with a little plastic stabber indicating degree of doneness. Although I had pictured corn as meaning “on the cob” it appeared that it meant "canned" as were the beans. As expected the potato arrived in foil, hot as heck.

How you do a steak with any taste for thirteen bucks escapes me, but it was actually fairly tasty, generally cooked as ordered (mine medium rare) although the texture left a little to be desired.

As you know by now, I am all about expectations and “what’s right”, and the Ridge Steak Night seemed to fit that to the fullest. An inviting bar, plastic plates and cups, the big bowl of salad, a lot of people enjoying conversation and fun, and a tip jar for the "girls” makes it a “just right” experience.

It was a great evening. What a tradition like no other. Find some friends, look for the signs and go see what’s inside. American Legion “Nights”. It could provide material for a book… Hmmm….

And this is one place where you might be able to relax and not


Friday, August 7, 2009

Quick Add to Friday to do

Add Blue Wind Gourmet to a venue with live music today at 6:30, Larry Tierney. have a glass of wine - no cover!

okay now go read the stuff below

Rags and Rants...

Just some more on food mags, and some rants that just got me going. I can't help it. I get long winded..

Food Rag II

Being sort of on a publication roll lately, I got my September Bon Appétit yesterday and sped through it last night over cocktails. It was their “restaurant issue” which almost every food rag does usually in September or October before the thanksgiving and winter holiday issues. The “restaurant” part features their 10 top “new” restaurants in America, along with a recipe from each. The restaurants were from San Francisco; Seattle; Decatur, (Georgia); Brooklyn; Baltimore; Chicago; Houston; Austin; Cleveland; and Massachusetts. A little description of each place along with some words on the chef. Ho hum. The recipes tended to be homey with a twist – Braised Beef with Pears and Fresh Ginger, or Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Semolina Gnocci. Anyway, something to tuck in the side of your mind for travelling. Seemingly stuck on “10” they also include “Top 10 Chicken Recipes with (get this) “Chef’s Secrets to crispy, juicy, perfection”. They don’t mention that one of the chef’s secrets is years of hard work over a hot stove in a crowded kitchen.

And lastly for the magazine, they have a recipe for “the best bloody mary”. Damn it, why does everything have to be “top” or “best”? why not: “A pretty darn good bloody mary recipe”. Anyway, to make this world stopping bloody mary of all bloody mary’s you need 18 ingredients. Merely boil some of them (tomatoes, carrots, golden beets, fennel bulb, and garlic) for 50 minutes, add salt and lemon juice, puree that, cover and chill. Then you have to grind celery seeds in a mortar and pestle, combine with the veggie puree, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, hot chili sauce (guess there’s a difference), and a Guiness(!!), cover and chill overnight, add the booze, then garni with pickled okra, lime wedges and serve. Whew!! So, instead of waking up with a hangover, staggering to the fridge, getting some tomato juice and pouring in the vodka, you spend about half a day chasing ingredients and the rest of it making the darn thing.

To do:

Tonight is First Friday in Leonardtown, there’s live music (by Fractal Folk) at the book store, and Fortune’s Turn on the square. Tomorrow action will continue in Leonardtown with a “beach party” with more music, and a “demonstration by the College of SOMD’s volley ball team. Hmmm….

This weekend is the annual “L’il Margaret’s Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival” at the usual venue Goddard Farm on Clay Hill Road. Although I do enjoy bluegrass in small doses, a weekend of it wouldn’t be my favorite thing to do. And, as also seems annual with this event, temps are supposed be into the mid nineties..

The St. Clements Island Museum will have it’s annual Children’s Day tomorrow.

Ranting place:

Well, he’s done it. The guy in the Enterprise who does the weekly advertising piece for SOMD restaurants actually comes out in print and calls himself a “reviewer”. Not once, but twice. Self appointed. This week’s article covers Captain Leonard’s, a place visited by the feeder last spring who pretty much liked the place and probably compared it to St. James Pub in that it’s exactly what you want a “Captain’s” place to be. The guy does a pretty accurate description of the physical place, but then the usual rote recitation of the menu with a few comments along the way. If you read between the lines, you might get just a little bit of down sided stuff: “A cup of cream of crab (soup) came out in minutes, and though (italics mine) creamy and nicely spiced, it could have been confused with cream of potato.” Excuse me? Why not just say the soup was tasteless? If you’re going to review, review.

People continue to amaze me. Sometimes they just don’t get it. Yesterday (Thursday) is the “hot dog guy” day near my office and I like to do that for lunch. We’ve discussed that before and I’m glad to see that others share my enthusiasm. I had a Brat yesterday, and it was by golly a genuine Johnsonville (to go along with the Nathan’s Hot dogs). Anyway, while standing in line awaiting my turn there was a lady ahead of me chatting with her co-workers, and a van drives up and stops, rolls down the window. Guy says to the lady in front of me: "hi (lady) what you doing?" Response: “I’m getting lunch – pause – you want something?” Guy in car: “Sure! Get me a half smoke loaded, a couple of dogs with kraut, and I think would like a brat!”. Great, she says, and continues chatting. Okay, what do you think she would do if some guy walked around 5 or 6 people in line and cut in front of her to get a half smoke loaded, a couple of dogs with kraut and a brat? Think she would complain? Is this any different? There are now 4 more orders in front of me. My comment of “maybe he should get in line” was met with a quizzical stare conveying “what’s the matter with you, buddy?" She just didn’t get it.

Okay, enough see you tonight and I will be


Oh, a little postscript on DFD. Apparently, in St. Mary’s County, you also have to DFC (or Dress for Court) . Today’s emptyprise has a front page article entitled “Dress for courthouse success, or expect duress”, with details of people who have been excused for not dressing properly. Thank you, God.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Burgers and Fishies...

Of the approximately eleven food magazines I receive along with the four or five others that have food sections (Chesapeake Life, Coastal Living, etc.,), I still rate Saveur at the top of the list. It would be unfair to include “Art of Eating” in the same grouping as that is pretty hard core and you don’t read it for the nice pictures. Anyway, this month’s issue (No. 122) arrived as mentioned yesterday with a picture of a loaded hamburger on the cover with the banner “The Burger Bible”. Oh my, I thought, what have they done? Well, guess what. They pulled it off admirably. They devote complete pages to the bun, the toppings, the meat, the cheeses, grilling and broiling (including steaming – Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, Connecticut), that are really informative. Like ribs and barbeque, hamburgers are a regional food, which they cover very nicely. The “PC” burger from South Carolina where Pimiento Cheese is dolloped atop, the “Juicy Lucy” from Minneapolis (with a core of molten cheese), the “Aussie Burger” from Sheep Station in Brooklyn that has pickled beets, pineapple rings, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and topped with a fried egg. They talk about White Castles (for you STL folks), and they even ferreted out the famed “Goober Burger” from Sedalia Missouri, a delicacy I shared with “Jack” Jackson on a trip back from Whiteman Air Force Base in my distant flutter testing past. They cover a myriad of “burger joints” from coast to coast (Sid’s Diner in El Reno, OK; Apple Pan in LA, and so forth). And yes HoGo, In and Out is mentioned. Multiple recipes for burgers, buns, etc. A great job.

And in the same issue is a great article on Chile Peppers for you hot heads. 48 varieties are pictured and described – ever hear of a Chapeau de Frade? Rocotillo? Quintisho? They’re all there.. Anyway, if you see one in a stand, pick it up. They do a great job. And just for the record, Gourmet occupies the second slot behind Saveur

Little Fishies..

remembering my appreciation of the inclusion of the Anchovy on my Caesar salad at Café Des Artistes, an alert reader passed along a link to a nice story "Give Anchovies Another Chance" from NPR on the little guys. I’m not the only one trying to elevate people’s appreciation for them. It’s a bit cutesy, but does have some good information and recipes. A quote:

“There are, I believe, two reasons why we don't care for anchovies in this country: We don't achieve the right balance of anchovies in our dishes, and we don't use quality anchovies”

Right on….and after you read about the burger and anchovies,

don't forget tomorrow night is First Friday in Leonardtown tomorrow night.. see you there

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I went...

down not to the St. James infirmary, but to the Pub, much better place for lunch. I’ve talked about St. James Pub (on Mattapany and 235) a few times in the past, but last week afforded a chance to see if it’s still “got it”. Quick read: yessiree. As readers with a memory better than ye olde editor’s will remember, I like the place not because of the quality of the food, or the graciousness of the staff, I like it because it is what it is what it is. No pretentions of “dining” here, it’s where you come to eat. It’s just a pub that serves a lunch that you can depend on two years ago, last year, and this year. Rolled up paper napkin closed with green tape containing pressed silverware along with (that memory thing again), I think there is a paper placemat with local advertising.. Keno screens (I have never figured out that game) with whatever those cards are at the table (with the malt vinegar). CMT on the television. Servers that are not wet behind the ears, and although you might hear a “hon” once it a while, it’s all part of the package.

There’s also that white board with handwritten numbered specials on it, usually a sandwich of some sort, a heartier selection such as spaghetti and meat balls, or maybe meat loaf, and some kind of salad. Or turn to the menu containing exactly what you would expect to see. Tuna melt your preference? They got it. Burgers in a red plastic basket with (commercial) fries not double fried in duck fat fries, just fries. Want malt vinegar on those fries? Right there on the table for you. On the day we were there, a couple of Gyro’s with salad or fries from the board and menu fish and chips were ordered from our table. Upon ordering the Gyro we were asked whether we wanted chicken or lamb. Well, in another venue I might go off on why one would even think of offering a “chicken gyro”, but here it might be acceptable (well okay, I really don’t think so). You’re not here to reduce your cholesterol.. The (lamb, of course) Gyros arrived wrapped in that sort of leaky aluminum foil stuff, oozing white sauce (which I think is Tzakziki – cuc’s, yogurt, garlic) with lettuce, all falling out with your first bite. But it was tasty, the fries were fries, and the fish and fries were crispy and hot. Just what you would expect.

The big plastic glasses of tea/soda/water are refilled from those plastic fluted pitchers. Okay, you get the idea. It’s just right, it all fits. And the food is exactly what you expect issuing from that window behind the bar (with a Hell’s Kitchen plaque over the window). Some grease, a little sloppy on the presentation, but you don’t get surprised in either direction. A caveat is that I’ve never been there for anything but lunch, but if you want a solid, no frills get what you expect, go down to the St. James Pub, you might see your baby there!!

I hope you got your latest copy of Saveur – it’s another gem. You can read it after you


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slow Tuesday

The muses will take a rest today

Apparently the never ending Michael Jackson saga will have more chapters. Please let it go...

New Mickey Dee's is open on Great Mills


Monday, August 3, 2009

Weekend and FGT's

The weekend began with the final (cute play on words, eh?) River Concert. Instead of starting with Bernstein’s symphonic dances from West Side story, we began with the pitter patter? no, cacophony of driving rain which turned a normally placid food row into a river. Some of the vendors packed up, but those of us in the adult beverage booth stuck it out.

Eventually the skies at least calmed down and those that toughed it out were treated to a hastily revised program. And the fewer still that stuck it out to the very end were able to hear Brian Ganz perform Rhapsody in Blue. It is always stirring piece, a combination of classical and jazz, and even after 85 years, it’s still worth listening to. Especially when performed by such a talent as Brian Ganz. I had a pretty distant view, but he seemed to really enjoy performing it..

So the sun sets on another ert concseason,


hard to believe it’s been a decade.

Saturday morning, after I dried out (from the rain, see) I decided to go over to the farmer’s market in the BAE parking lot to make sure we got some sweet corn to add to the evening’s menu which included grilled steak. You know that “seed catalog” syndrome? That’s the one where you pick up (or these days log into) the catalog because you just want to quickly order some tomato seeds, and by the time the order is placed you have succumbed to multiple “gee, that looks good!” thoughts and have 35 items for a hundred bucks. Well, a form of that got me at the market yesterday, and here was what resulted from the singular quest for corn:

Closer inspection will reveal I did get some smaller versions of zucchinis, and notice the green orbs below those little squash. Walking around the market, I spied some green tomatoes along side the plethora of ripe ones. Hmm, I thought, what the heck can you do with those? Then it hit me! Fried Green Tomatoes!! Into the bag!

Back at the digs, I started looking around for recipes for FGT’s. I started in my Cajun/Creole library but apparently that isn’t a Cajun tradition. The only one I found was in Egerton’s venerable “Southern Food”. Basically it’s what you would think, coat them with (something), and fry them. A Tyler Florence recipe turned up some nuances, like soaking in buttermilk, a couple others used panko bread crumbs, some flour, but most used an egg wash for binder. I pretty much opted for the Southern Food style, just some stone ground corn meal, added a dash of smoked paprika, and decided on using the beaten eggs.

Frying is always a bit problematic for the feeder, it always seems to result in not only coating the food in oil, but also the general cooking area. Cooking the tomatoes and generating a clean up job resulted in:

And they ultimately shared the plate with the grilled steak (Penzey’s Chicago steak seasoning) and corn (with lime zest and butter) which started the whole mess. Paired with a domestic Cab in the glass (and some peripheral reading material) it wasn't a bad meal:

I wasn’t real thrilled with the final product, the cornmeal tended to burn a little, and clumped to form an uneven coating. The tomatoes were pretty acidic (which I suppose is to be expected). But, it’s worth a try if you have a viable frying scheme…

A little tale (for the tail end): When I driving out of the farmer’s market, I happened to be behind the car of one of the other shoppers I had noticed stocking up on healthy, locally grown products. No doubt she would be making dinner for those kids in the car, teaching them the joys of real, not from Giant, healthy food. And, I was surprised to see them also turning on Millstone landing. Guess what? Left turn arrows go green, around the corner we go, her turn signal illuminates, and she turns into McDonalds!! What’s wrong with this picture..

Bet she didn’t