Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Over Easy...

As the weather cools, the system needs a bit more fuel in the morning to start the machinery for the days challenges. I had the opportunity to stoke the furnace yesterday morning at Linda’s, the venerable…. hmmmm, café, diner, dive, greasy spoon, (pick one) here in Lexington Park. It’s long been a gathering place for local “regulars”, characters, and notables as well as a popular luncheon spot for more professional people from “the base”. They do serve dinner, but I have never partaken of that meal.

As loyal long time readers know, I am a big fan of places that fall into the “just right” category (as in St. James Pub for lunch). I really think that maybe Linda’s deserves that accolade for breakfast. Yesterday I arrived at probably past peak hours, but there were still several tables occupied. One was a group of what looked like golfers, attired in sporty sweaters, pull over’s, and sleeveless things with script on them. Another contained a slightly disheveled elderly mother and daughter, there was a family with little kids getting a treat. At one point a gentlemen arrived with an open flannel shirt and one of those key chain things that looped below his knee, coming back up to a leather pouch tucked into well worn jeans. He went directly to the counter for a china mug of coffee..My companion observed I just missed the (almost legendary) J. Frank Raley, a daily customer. The paneled walls are covered with kitschy stuff, paper place mats with those little ads on them, rolled up tools (knife and fork). Smells of bacon and grease pervade the air, a real breakfast treat. The staff joins in the theme as some look like they just got out of bed and raced to work as well. Linda herself was ensconced in the kitchen at the flat top busily turning out the food. As a parallel with SJP, white boards are everywhere with specials listed by number (just right). The menu is still a large laminated list of the usual suspects.

Our table ordered a ham and cheese omelet, and I had the corned beef hash, with two eggs “how would you like those?” over, please. “easy or medium”, medium please. “toast or muffins?” toast, please. “white, wheat, or rye?”. Pencil busily recording selections on a green note pad. Just right. Cold beverages are served in thick plastic glasses of varying size. I was a little surprised at the length of time it took for our food to arrive, given eggs are usually pretty quick to be cooked, and probably piles bacon and other meats are kept on the grill, but anyway, arrive they did. Mine was on one of those thick oval china plates, the corned beef slightly inching its way toward the edge, the eggs a bit “off center” with the “over” side up, little pools of grease in the brown pockets. The hash was a combination of crunchy and creamy with some burned edges here and there. The eggs were the perfect consistency viscous without being runny. Great. The ham and cheese chunks of the omelet were trying their best to punch through the egg jacket, a real hearty dish. The potatoes along side were also charred on the edges, and were hunks, not those stupid little shredded things that sometimes appear as breakfast potatoes. The communal toast was served in a red plastic basket, with diagonally sliced pieces of bread lathered with that white stuff, probably applied by a brush. what else!

Everything was tasty and hot, service a bit spotty, like requiring some heavy eye contact to get a water glass refilled, but it’s all part of the show. The real deal breakfast package.

Later on in the day, as part of a little ceremony honoring some of the Jesuits who sold their land to the state, I was a hanger on for a little lunch at Café Des Artistes in Leonardtown. Was an interesting contrast from the breakfast experience as the clientele for lunch was markedly different. Neither set of diners would be comfortable if they switched venues. Have recently commented on CDA’s luncheon, so won’t do it again here. Was very good, with an excellent lentil(?) soup. The luncheon with the Jesuits was fun, they were a knowledgeable couple of guys, and I had to forgive one for being an alum of that school in South Bend. He did thank me for the Spartans gift of the football game a couple of weeks ago. We then adjourned to the Chapel Field at Historic St. Mary’s city to show them the restored brick chapel, and an excellent tour by Dr. Henry Miller. What a great place to live..

Of course, they had no issues with

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Wrap..

Probably not really riveting reading, but it is what it is (as "they" say)...

A lot of the weekend was spent in recovering (it always takes longer than you wish) from the cold that downed me the latter part of the week. A hoped for attendance at a Thursday night cooking class over in Leonardtown (at QualityStreet) fell victim to the symptoms. I was looking forward to it as it featured (among other things) a home made blue cheese dressing for iceberg wedge, a dish that I am increasingly fond of. The staff was kind enough to save me a plate of everything however, which served as a lunch on Saturday. Somehow, the recipe for the salad dressing didn’t make it into the notes, but that’s being worked. I’m a sucker for blue cheese dressing. You can have your dainty little vinaigrette, gimme the earthy creamy chunky blue cheese. I think it's particularly suited for that crunchy snappy iceberg. Kind of acts like a binder on the more delicate greens.

After spending most of Friday recuperating, the first social foray consisted of attending a fund raiser for the Hospital on Friday night. Although a nice selection of wines and appetizers were offered, the taste buds were still unable to discern any flavor of liquid or solid food. Sigh.

At last feeling more normal on Saturday, I spent some time on John Deere and with the weed whacker returning the digs to a more presentable condition. Then some couch time (a medical necessity) watching various college football games, suffering yet another national exposure of a bumbling Spartan team as they once again were too little too late. When does roundball start?

Rallied myself to go out Saturday night to that lecture at Calvert Marine Museum. It turned out to be not what I expected, and instead of speaking about historic sailing on the Chesapeake, it recounted a journey from Europe to the New World on the same route that the early colonists would have taken. Except this was on a luxury 5 masted sailing ship with gourmet meals. The presenter used some historic navigational equipment, which was generally able to match the GPS data from the ship. Entertaining, just not what I expected. A takeout from Ruddy Duck with a couple of pizzas finished the evening.

Yesterday we had some friends over for lunch, and I prepared a frittata served with thick sliced bacon. Only negative was that it was left under the broiler just a few seconds (time to go get a sip of beverage) too long, but still was edible. Given the early hour I figured that something bubbly would be appropriate and stumbled across a nice find. It was an ‘05 “Sparkling Rose” from Kluge Estate in Charlottesville in Virginia. It had a pleasing pale pink color with nice effervescence of tiny bubbles. Although the sniffer wasn’t still in it’s “A” game, I did detect some yeasty aromas. I thought it had (watch out) a nice mouth feel, sort of silky with a long finish. Whew! Enough wine speak…anyway it went well with the smoked gouda and MFO’s cheese crackers. It once again proved how nice a leisurely lunch with good friends and food can be.

Of course we eventually degraded to watching the “Skins” allowing Detroit to end their three year winless streak. I don’t know how the Nation’s Capital can have such inept pro teams (except the Caps – thank goodness). I also caught the end of the FedEx cup coverage. It was interesting to me how all season long, the networks had promo after promo about “the playoffs”, close ups of folks like Emmet Smith emoting about the importance of “the playoffs”, on and on. I think in every sport I know of if one wins the final “playoff”, that person is deemed the “Champion”. Makes sense. There must have been some fast thinking yesterday when Phil Mickelson beat Tiger by 3 strokes, and second place in “The Playoffs” takes the Fedex Cup. So immediately they started yapping about the Cup representing “consistency of play throughout the season”, and Lefty merely won “the tour championship”. I think they have a ways to go. Maybe they can talk to the BCS folks, they have it right…. Oh, wait…..

ADMIN NOTE: this coming Saturday, MFO and I are leaving Pax to attend our 50th High school class reunion. The Bottom Feeder will be on the road, but it will be a new experience in the blogosphere. In preparation for this odyssey, publication this week may be sporadic. But in no case should you not


Friday, September 25, 2009

Health of the Economy and the Feeder:

Are about the same. I think we’ve hit bottom and are beginning to move upward. Enough energy to pen a few pre-weekend this and that’s and events..

To Do’s (in no particular order):

County Fair: all weekend, always a unique event.

Student Recital – Today 3pm at SMCM Auerbach Aud in St. Mary’s hall. French horn and either piano or flute

Bass Sitar – Today Classical Indian musician, Ustad Imrat Kahn, lecture at 5 in Anne Arundel hall, concert 8:15

Chesapeake Explorers – Tomorrow 7pm – Calvert Marine Museum. A talk by Kent Mountford relating to his travels on the Chesapeake bay in a rigged ship following Capt. John Smith’s route. I think free.

Living History – Tomorrow Christ Church La Plata – 6pm. A docent from Dr. Sam Mudd house will portray Bridget, a servant there. Also a 5pm candelight tour of the church, and then a pre-civil war Dinner. 25 bucks. Not sure what that menu would be, but interesting.

Riverfest ’09 – Sunday, noon to six. Free. Historic St. Mary’s City , sponsored by the St. Mary’s Watershed Association. Lots of things to do.
Too bad nothing to do in St. Mary’s County

Feeder Feel Good

Sometimes I think I am being too severe in my “gripes” about servers, restaurants, etc. October Gourmet, pg 34, first annual “Golden Egg” awards. “The Six Words we’d Prefer to Never Hear from the Waitstaff Again”: 1st Place: “Are you still working on that?”; Runner up: “I’ll be your waiter this evening”. Hah. we're not so dumb!

Sports Bite:

Feeling cruddy on the couch yesterday, with no desire for anything else to do, I watched the first round of the Finale of the FedEx cup at Eastlake in Atlanta. Depite 500 year floods, the course was in great shape by the way. Anyway, it was interesting to see the networks vainly trying to put drama in this thing. If I hear the phrase “their destiny is in their hands” again, I’ll throw up. Excuse me, Tiger is in the field. Then, as coverage continued the silly woman commentator kept flashing up things like (remember, this is the first of four rounds): “(he) can win the cup if: Tiger finishes in a 5 way tie for 8th, (Furyk) places no higher that 17th, and Slocum is DQ’d. To his credit, Faldo pooh poohed all of this. And, to their credit, the players maintained all they wanted to do was shoot a good round and didn’t pay attention to the points. Faldo allowed as how the 11 Million was a drop in the bucket to tiger anyway. Oh, and the same silly woman started the coverage with a shot of aircraft overflying the course with “we’re having a flyover of F-5’s courtesy of NAS Key West”. They were dots before I could see what they were really.

have a fun weekend and

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Score is....

Cold/coughing/sneezing: 1; Bottom Feeder: 0.

A sniffy nose on tuesday matured into a healthy cough during the day yesterday and last night. No report today - pass the Kleenex.

Aren't you on the edge of your seat? The last tourney for the FedEx cup starts today. talk about made up events..

atchoo, and i won't be


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not quite lite Wednesday

A short list that grew a little…

So. Md. Culture at its best:

A couple of people sent me a link to a story in one of our “on-line” newspapers that showed a grizzly skull of (sic) "a horse" in a pot behind one of our local Mexican markets. It allegedly was used to “make tacos”. Well, in today’s Enterprise, there’s a top of front page story with that (ugly) picture and it goes on to explain it was all just a misunderstanding, see. Silly us, it’s really only a cows head. What’s all the fuss about? Article goes to pains to point out a county official says it’s “an acceptable culinary practice”. I certainly feel better now. I’ll have a salad please.

As locals know, there is always a chaser going across the bottom of the screen during “local on the 8’s” on the Weather Channel. Old people watch the WC for hours, you know. Anyway the chaser usually advertises some local business. Today there was one about a luncheon special which read” “Clarke’s Landing Restaurant announces there famous crab cake….”. Hey, it passed the spell checker..

The (culinary) rejuvenation of “the Park” continues…Sake has opened in the old McDonald’s/Chicken Shack (did that ever actually open?) spot on Great Mills road. I think it’s a steak house and might have AYCE Sushi. That’s classy. The Lexington Park Pub is coming, the new McDonalds debuts in St. Mary’s Square which also contains a store front Pizza Hut. I also think something else is under construction: “coming soon”. Sometime I gotta count the number of eateries around here. Big number (and growing) I think.


And, despite many mailings of “no thank you” and “do not renew”, guess what came in yesterday afternoon’s mail?

You can't win, but you can

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Renew Now!, and etc.

Has this ever happened to you? You subscribe to a magazine of some sort, and one day in the mail you get a letter saying “time to renew your subscription at special rates”, or maybe: “renew now and save”. Well, of course you can’t find the magazine, or the little label has peeled off, or the publisher cleverly puts the label on a clear plastic sleeve you have to destroy to get to the publication. And, you can’t really remember when you “upped” or how long it was. So, you go to the website to the “customer service” tab (if you can find the almost grayed out 2 point font link), to find a screen that says “please enter your 16 digit account code” with a little diagram showing you where that is—on the upper right on that label you don't have in the first place!! If I knew where the damn label was, I MIGHT be able find when my subscription expires. So, you go back in your financial records and find that you wrote a check last year for a three year extension. Whew. Into the trash. A month later: “time is running out! We haven’t heard from you”. Trash. Another few weeks: “William! This is your last chance at special rates!!”. You’re helpless.

Or, say that you give gift subscriptions for Christmas presents (which I do). Along about May or June they start coming! “Only six months till your gifts run out! Renew now!” along with a little form for checking “renew this gift” or “Don’t renew”. This year, I decided that I would not renew a couple, so just ignored the notice. Bad idea. A week later: “Tell us what to do about (Name)!!. Okay, I’ll spend 42 cents and check the “do not” box. Mail that. Uh uh. Next comes an envelope with “URGENT” highlighted on the front, with a little open window with your former recipient’s name. “Don’t disappoint (name)!. You can’t win.

And, although the magazines are bad enough, the kings of this practice are the non-profits, like the National Wildlife Organization or Save the Bay, things like that. Same scam. An envelope arrives with a “renewal” notice. They often even send a plastic “members” card. Think there’s an expiration date on it? Ha ha. Maybe a membership number, but going to their website gets you nothing. Send an inquiry to “customer service”? get real.

One has to wonder how many people blindly believe the publishers are ethical, and keep writing checks, resulting in subscriptions that expire beyond their reasonable life expectation. Ridiculous? I am sorry to admit that last year I had a membership in the Audubon society until 2015.

Time Marches On

Nothing is forever.. our (almost) nightly ritual of cocktails entails doing work or chores until about 7, sometimes watching evening news while constructing a dry Manhattan, on the rocks, with a twist, and a Bombay Gin Gimlet with fresh squeezed lime juice. Then perhaps some cheese (or Waffle Snax), chex mix, cheetos, cheeze its, (note orange theme) or lately MFO has found some breadsticks that are fairly tasty (see below). Then, depending on weather or season, we either settle on the porch or stay in the living room, switch over to channel five and enjoy re-runs of “Seinfeld”. Somehow no matter how many times you see it, it remains fresh and funny. Sort of like Mr. Silberschlag observed the other day, the more familiar you are with it, the more you appreciate the nuances. When you know a line is coming, the anticipation builds and the more you enjoy the delivery. Anyway (finally the nothing part…), Fox has decided that we would rather see syndications of “The Office” instead of the tried and true Jerry/George/Kramer/Elaine show. Sigh….

Oh, the breadsticks. We have found some fairly tasty ones available at Shoppers, shown below with a serving suggestion.

A word of warning however, if you enjoy them on the porch it might be wise to bring them inside because the overnight humidity is not kind to their structure. For evidence, here’s one we didn’t finish the previous evening..

At this point, the clever editor could insert slightly off color references to certain widely advertised products as seen on television mainly during manly events like pro football games that feature bath tubs. But, knowing the high intelligence of the loyal readers, it is, as they say, left to the reader.


Errata: it just might be that the august gentlement in feathered hats pictured in yesterdays Chapel just might be Knights of Columbus. Not brought up Catholic.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

History Repaired, etc.

A few things since last we met, I spent Saturday morning at the Chapel (Historic St. Mary’s City - more later), and in the afternoon we drove up to Annapolis to make sure Nordstrom’s (where “customer service” still means something) remained in business. That wasn’t necessary because there were a lot of people with the same idea and they filled the parking lot and we had to park across the road. I was also informed that there is a Coldwater Creek in the “new” center there in Parole. MFO did her part there also. That place is crawling with security. Makes one wonder. Didn’t explore the eateries, I hear there is a PF Chang’s which some people like if you’re into chains. Aside from the usual road race to the south, the return trip was uneventful.

Yesterday was a big event at Historic St. Mary’s City. As I’m sure you all know, after William and Mary gained the throne, they made the Anglican Church the “official” Church of England. So, in 1704 laws were enacted making it illegal to worship as a Catholic in a church or chapel (in England and it's colonies), and the royal-appointed Governor of Lord Baltimore’s colony ordered the Chapel in St. Mary’s City to be locked. And, it was. That act was symbolic of the end of “Freedom of Conscience” in Maryland, and once again the government could dictate how you could worship.

So, after 300 odd years, with the (nearly) completion of the re-construction of the Chapel, it was decided that it was high time to “unlock” it. Sheriff Tim Cameron agreed to undo what his predecessor had done, and yesterday it was accomplished.

Quite a crowd assembled,

the (I think I got this right) Ancient Order of the Hibernians,

our “Militia”,

several from the Society of Jesus (aka the Jesuits – who caused the chapel to be built originally), other clerics and even the Archbishop.

Dr. Henry Miller brandished the Key

And Sheriff Cameron revived the Chapel and freedom of religion!

The doors were opened!!

Of course previous to all the action there were speeches which not everybody paid attention to

And so at the end of a (long) day, the Chapel was restored to it’s full prominence in St Mary’s city

It really is worth a visit to see the chapel (along with the rest of "the City" sometime. And after that you can


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Music Lessons...

Foodie day off...

A carefully orchestrated (intended) day yesterday, trying to juggle ferrying MFO to the tire place, then Leonardtown, a mow of the grasses at the digs, cleaning of the kitchen, all carefully scheduled to arrive at the Concert in Montgomery hall, exactly at 4:30 for the concert which I did (with some creative driving). I arrived to a very packed room, with pretty much every seat taken except for one in the (old) front row. So, with as much dignity as I could muster, I strode to the front and sat down just as Brian Ganz began talking. I was so close to his piano I could have touched it, and not much more from the orchestra. Any closer and I should have had a violin. Room 25 in the hall is not an auditorium, and the audience and performers are all on the same level. So, as close as I was, with the grand piano’s lid up, only after the music began was I aware that there was a conductor leading the orchestra as occasionally a mop of gray hair and a couple of hands appeared above the lid. Thankfully, Brian figured that out and lowered the lid revealing Mr. Silberschlag.

Alert readers will remember that I attended a performance of Bach’s Piano Concerto last Tuesday in St. Mary’s hall. That one had Beverly Babcock (very nicely) playing the “orchestra” part on another piano, so I was eager to see the difference with a real orchestra. I won’t get into the “best” game, this was just different. I think the orchestra served to highlight the soloist more, just because the strings are, well, not another piano and provide a different musical experience. I suppose this was more how Bach intended the piece to be played.

I think they played through the complete movement, and then a surprising thing happened which proved to be a real insight for me. You know, I/you go to a concert and the conductor stands there, keeping time with his baton, occasionally pointing to a section, and at the end gets all the accolades. How hard is that? Yesterday really opened my eyes to what a real job it is to be the conductor. After the applause subsided, they didn's start again, and Jeffrey began talking to the cellists, asking them if they could hear Brian and if they couldn’t they were playing too loud. He then asked them to be more “fluid” with a few notes, and had them play several measures until he thought it about right. He worked with the first then second violins, wanting more vibrato with this stroke, more “joy” in the first few bars, and so forth. He had the violinists play very slowly (I’m sure there is a musical description) to make sure they got the timing right, then had them play real time with Brian only playing the right hand. Then the cellists again with Brian playing only the left (bass) hand. Then Brian alone, with both hands. Then everybody. Then just the violins again. Violas. Cellos. Piano. Over an over. Stopping and starting, always with Jeff asking for this and that, occasionally sort of singing/humming for demonstration . And, apparently Jeff and Brian had different editions of music with different annotations, so when Jeff said “let’s start again at F”, Brian would have to figure out where that was, because his set of music had no “F”. This generated a series of trips back and forth between the podium and piano stool and got to be quite fun, especially when they started in different places. In the end, they played the complete movement again and I really think it was much more polished.

It turned out that this was more of an “open rehearsal” rather than a concert, and as Jeff explained it was only the second time they had played with piano and orchestra. It was another peek at what hard work it is to produce this wonderful music, obviously a work of love for them. Stuff you don’t get to see that reveals what talented people they really are. I'll revise my appreciation of conductors now. It wasn’t all hard work either, at one point they had fun talking about a cadenza, with Brian explaining that he could improvise (especially with this Baroque piece), and how this sometimes left the conductor “hanging” with baton in the air, while the soloist played on. Jeff demonstrated. Great fun.

At the end, Jeffrey talked to us about how we should listen to a piece more than once, and that the musicians by playing a piece over and over during rehearsal and so forth develop a real appreciation of some of the nuances and discover things one might not at first hear, and what a wonderful part of music that was.

All this took place between 4:30 and five, and only after it ended did I learn/remember that it actually started at four. Sigh, early dementia keeps creeping in. There is supposed to be another session sometime in October. Although the flutters will be spending a lot of October on the road, pay attention. It is well worth your time. Makes you want to


Friday, September 18, 2009

120 Weasels and more...

A very nice day yesterday for the flutters. As previewed, we went up the road to join a tour of the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland as part of the Smithsonian Residents Associate Programs. As an aside (and plug) here, the “associates” offer the opportunity for wonderful tours, lectures, classes, and so forth on a wide range of topics. You should check it out. Anyway, despite my normal apprehensions of “Driving to DC”, the trip up on Rte.4 and Suitland Parkway to the facility on Silver Hill Road was uneventful and even pleasant. The main tour itself launched from the Mayflower hotel in DC, but we were offered the option of just meeting them at the Center instead of boring into downtown. We were able to park inside the facility grounds, which was welcome, given the general conditions of the area outside the gates. Eventually the tour bus struggled to the main entrance and disgorged the complete tour, about 40 folks.

The support center (oddly, i couldn't find a link, sorry) houses archives and serves as the storage facility for most of the non-exhibited collections of the Smithsonian Museums. It has sometimes been dubbed “the Nation’s attic”, a claim they strongly disagree with. The have millions of cataloged and preserved specimens (including the famous 120 Weasels – maybe Jimmy Roberts will eventually join them) of plants, fishes, bones, textiles, fossils, you name it. It consolidated storage from all the various basements, closets, and boxes from the member museums and "the castle". It serves as a major research facility, the collect things on their own, accept donations (Teddy Roosevelt’s stuffed deer heads), and do trading with other institutions around the world.

We were divided into 4 groups (blue, pink, yellow, and green). We were slated to visit four areas, the first of which was the textile area where they are currently working on restoring and preserving a donation of the entire holdings of the (now closed) Black Fashion Museum which will eventually be displayed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They had several dresses and hats that they were in the process of conserving. MFO was pleased to see that the first thing they did was don the white gloves. Fascinating stuff.

Next we went to the Photography/Imaging lab and were shown the equipment and how it is used to shoot the specimens, both for preservation and exhibits. Mr. Hurlbert (one of three photographers employed by the Smithsonian) showed us the rudiments of lighting using all sorts of neat shades, reflectors, and general technical photo gear stuff. He did it in what he called “table top” shooting. For my photographer friends, let it be noted that the Feeder held in my hand an over $30,000 Hasselbland "system" (along with Mr. Hurlbert’s). It was a 50 mega pixel unit, and each image was around 280 megabytes! As part of his talk, he said that despite the digital age, the best pictures are still film (which he uses in his personal life). He also stated (with MFO’s agreement) that film images are the best for archival purposes. Properly stored, they will last (almost) forever, and they will always be there. He warned us that pinning your hopes on digital means you have to upgrade the software for “reading” them continuously, store them on at least two dedicated hard drives. He showed us some images he’s doing on Northwest Indian wear that were just beautiful.

We then took a break for a “gourmet” box lunch billed as: ‘Grilled lemon oregano scented chicken wrapped in a whole pita with chopped tomatoes, red onion and Feta Tzatziki yogurt sauce. A side of Broccoli with red pepper salad and a chocolate truffle brownie with nuts for dessert”. Reality was that it was two half pitas that had separated top from bottom, the tomato was sort of whitish slices, and the chicken portion was not large. The Tzatziki was pretty good for dipping. The broccoli at first appeared to be cauliflower, as it was pale white. The structure did in fact appear broccoli like but the taste was no clue, as it was sort of pickled. The red pepper turned out to be one strip.

Thus fortified we started the afternoon half with the fishes. Not swimming with, but observing. You know those bottles of staring fishes you see in museums? Picture thousands of bottles neatly stored in collapsible storage, all labeled as to specie and place of collection. They have several “type” specimens which are sort of the benchmark for a particular species. They are used extensively for research (what’s this fish?). When somebody asked if they could be removed from the bottle, Mr. Williams grabbed one, unscrewed the lid and took little fishy out for us to see. Again, properly stored in alcohol (151 proof Bacardi) they will last almost forever. We then went to what looked like a funeral parlor, a room with many, many stainless steel coffin like boxes which contained the larger specimens (sharks, swordfish, and the like) and showed us a preserved (about) 4 foot Coelacanth (see-la-canth), a fish thought to be extinct but “recently” (~1938) discovered. Again, he reached in and grabbed a pectoral fin and shook hands with the deceased fish.

Our last stop was the Botany lab, with thousands of dried plants in flower presses. We heard the story of collection, drying, categorizing, and distribution of speciments.

Sorry for the length and in retrospect I should probably have lugged the camera, but what a great tour. And what was equally as interesting was the enthusiasm in which these people talk about their “jobs”. It’s obvious that they just love what they do. They probably repeated the same spiel to each of the four groups, but you would have thought you were the first ones they talked to. The overused “passionate” comes to mind. If you ever get a chance to tour the facility – do it.

Nothing to do?

Today (Friday) – Concert in Montgomery Hall, SMCM, 4:30

Saturday: Artfest at Anne Marie Gardens (both weekend days)

Sunday (apparently the big day of the weekend):

Noon to five: Taste of St. Mary’s in Leonardtown sample offerings (for a fee) of many of the local eateries (CD café, Café Des, Corbels, etc.)

Five: “Opening” of the re-constructed chapel of 1667 at Historic St. Mary’s City. “locked” in 1704 by the sheriff when the Anglican Church became the official church of England, it will be ceremoniously re-opened by Sheriff Cameron.

Three: Lecture series at Sotterley Plantation, a panel discussion on the future of archeology at the site.

Pick one and go!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Short Thursday

After extolling the wonders of Bach and Waffle Snacks yesterday we're taking today off.

MFO and I are going "up the road" to do a tour of a Smithsonian Facility. Report tomorrow. After swallowing hard, I'm leaving the camera home. you never know. I'll have to paint the pictures with words..

Seems like every day brings another loss. Yesterday Mary Travers passed. Being a child of the 60's, PPM was a large part of our musical firmament in the "hippie days". At least her music will live on.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brows: high and low


I have seen it during performances of Rev. Gary Davis, Doc Watson does it, as well as BB King (who is 84 today, by the way). At some point while they’re playing, you notice that they seem to have left the role of “performer” and joined you as “audience”. They get this sort of detached look of amazement on their face, sort of: “wow! What beautiful music is coming out here!”, and just sort of observe and enjoy along with us. Almost as if their hands have left their body and have become part of the instrument, not them. I saw that again yesterday at St. Mary’s City, where I enjoyed a concert by Brian Ganz and Beverly Babcock. They played two pieces, a Bach “keyboard” Concerto (No. 5 in F minor) and also Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (called the “Emperor”). They were such a joy to watch, they looked like they were mostly playing for their own enjoyment and were graciously allowing us to observe them. Several times during the performance, Brian would just sort of appear to be listening to, rather than playing, the music. Wow! What nice music – where’s that coming from? A couple of times he even adjusted his tie (as he was DFC) during the piece. As they say, music hath the power to, in this case, make a malfunctioning e-mails seem trivial. It was also nice to see a wide variation in age of the audience, not just stodgy “genarians”, but many young people as well. A good sign that classical music still attracts all ages. It was a great concert by two talented musicians, and not only for the music they played. Prior to the performances, Brian offered some notes about the pieces, gave some history about them (including the story of why the Beethoven was dubbed "Emperor") making it a great listening and learning experience. And not only that, their “page turner” (a complicated musical term) was Jonah Yeh, that insouciant young pianist of great talent and promise. Even he seemed to be enjoying the fun. If you would like to have more fun, there will be another edition this Friday at 4, in Montgomery Hall 25, and will have Jeffrey Silberschlag and the college Orchestra. Same pieces. Get out and listen to real music. It’s good for you.,.

Going Lower:

While wandering the aisles at Giant the other day (I think the same trip that resulted in the top sliced buns), I came across a little display that brain flashed me back to my youth. It was a little bag of:

I seem to remember that they came in some sort of tube, but anyway I picked up the package and brought it home. I think all good snacks involve cheese and these are no different. If you remember, it is composed of cheese like material between some almost cardboard like waffle wafers. Somehow the combination just works and, as you know I'm a big fan of "what works".

And even the serving fits, some have busted apart (for all you Oreo lovers) some are cracked, so you get to pick the one that’s most pleasing to you.

A great little snack from the past.

And speaking of snacks, it reminds of a time when we had an interesting discussion as to what constitutes “bar snacks”. You know, those little bowls of something that often sit on the bar that increases your salt intake and makes you thirsty? After much discussion we concluded that the main qualification is that it has to be orange. Think about it. All those “mixes” contain orange bits, cheetos, cheez its, bbq fritos, Doritos, what color? Orange. A rule of life..and after the bar


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Problems with e-mails came out of the firmament this morning, and so flummoxed the feeder that creative juices were sapped. Something is in works, and am attending the concert today, so material will be there for tommorow. Hopefully the e-mail will also..

How did we get along without computers again?

i may even not

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Potpourri

Just a conglomeration of weekend stuff, with nothing very spectacular (they’re real…).

Food Part:

Food selections for the weekend included Pizza take out from Ruddy Duck, a bar meal at Corbels, and a couple of home cooked “eating” not dining meals. One of which was I decided to unthaw some leftover Nathan’s dogs and grill them. Since I had to run some errands including a trip to Giant, I decided to pick up some fresh hot dog rolls or buns, depending on your heritage. So after deciphering their new aisle line up designed so that you cannot find anything without random roaming of the aisles, I finally found the bread section (wouldn’t you think “Bread” should be on those hanging down things at the ends of the aisles? Not yet, anyway). After finding the usual blank space where the Pepperidge Farm “Original” white bread should have been, I spied the buns/rolls on the lower shelf. As I reached for a package of the hot dog variety, I noticed they were labeled as “Classic Hot Dog Buns”. Great. However, in slightly smaller print was “top sliced”. Now, I am from the Midwest, but in that world, a “classic” hot dog but would be sliced on the side. I never even heard of a top sliced until recently, but maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life. I don’t think I’m against it, it does have it’s pluses, like it’s easier to keep the condiments from falling out, and generally you turn a side sliced 90˚ anyway. (did we have this discussion before?).

I just got my October Food and Wine – with a cover story of “Food and Wine Pairing Guide”, with a sub title of “a photo with every recipe”. Great. I always have to look at the dish before I can begin thinking about the wine. I haven’t cracked the issue yet, but will…

Thanks eagle eyed readers – I guess there is no such thing as prime rib of beer, although it might have some merit…

Non Food Part

As noted, MFO and I spent the day Saturday at different venues in the county, I at Historic St. Mary’s City, and she at Leonardtown. I got to sit at the Woodland Indian Discovery Day information booth, and the other half Tudor Hall. I had a great time talking to the visitors (along with directions to the rest room, informing people that it wasn’t free, you need a ticket, etc.). The little kids were the most fun as they got to make beads, putting red clay on their face, and generally making a mess. It’s fun to get out and see people. You never know what’s going to turn up..

Sports and observations part

I’ve seen more Michael Jackson after his demise than before…..enough already!

Speaking of demise, I thought Jay Leno retired. Again, over the past few weeks, I’ve seen more of him than in years before. NBC spending mega bucks pumping our enthusiasm for his new show. I won’t’ be watching..I think his ego is as large as his lower mandible..

Rant Part:

We’re number….. To placate America’s apparent hunger to make sure there’s a “number one” in everything, most sports have devised a playoff system. Most work okay, with somebody at least winning playoffs, not necessarily synonymous with “number one” (which implies our favorite concept, “the best”). The two notable exceptions are college football which continues to flounder around in the BCS swamp and by far the worst is the stupid FedEx cup. Trying to come up with a “playoff” in a sport where you compete against others only in relation to par has proven difficult. All (?) the other formats involve a “one on one” team or individual contest in which the winner continues and the other goes home. But, unless you come up with a match play format which would take forever, it just doesn’t work in golf. That incomprehensible goofy point system doesn’t mean anything. Tiger is currently leading with 7,196 points and number two has a measly 5,692 followed by the trailers with only 3 grand. What the heck does that mean? Every televised event this year tried to generate enthusiasm for “the FedEx cup”, but it just didn’t work. This last weekend was the last chance to be one of the lucky 30 into the “finals”, which apparently 25 of them cannot win, even if they win the dang tournament. That’s nice, is there any other sport in which winning the last playoff event does not make them the overall Champion? On the first round last Thursday, NBC began with the first stroke of the first of 70 players saying: “if it ended right now – he’d be in Xth place”!. What idiocy. Gee, there’s only 70 players playing 4 rounds, at roughly a par 70 course, meaning there were about 20,000 strokes to be played before Sunday. It got to be ludicrous. I thought Furyk had a nice rejoinder yesterday to my buddy Jimmy (the weasel) Roberts who eagerly asked: “I’ll bet you were really concentrating on your place in the Cup as you played today!” Jim said: “no, that’s you guys job, most of the players don’t care and just play golf”. Nuff said.

Nice job, Spartans, losing to what was known when I was a kid as “Mt. Pleasant Teacher’s College”. And, sorry Charlie, Return to Glory delayed one more week..

This is not original, but worth passing along…Did you ever wonder when you want to turn off your computer you go to “start”?

Quick Cultured Part:

another in the land of nothing to do, there's a concert tomorrow (tuesday 9/15) at noon in St. Mary's Hall of St. Mary's College featuring Beverly Babcock and Brian Ganz playing Bach Concerto in f minor, and the Beethoven Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major. After attending the concert, i'll be


Friday, September 11, 2009

Turn Times Three ...

The Byrds remind us…to every thing there is a season…

One of the (few) things I enjoy about maturing in life is observing the inevitable changing of the seasons. When it’s coming into spring, the warming weather is good for the soul after enduring the long dark days of winter. Then, as the warmth of spring turns to summer, the spectre of picnics, outdoor concerts and so forth seems appealing. However, as I approach more maturity, I think I enjoy most the change of summer into of fall. By the time September arrives, we’re all pretty tuckered out with yard work, pulling weeds, heat and humidity, and look forward to cooler days and earlier evenings. We begin to think about pulling out the reds, and relegate the whites to appetizers or early day imbibing. Salads, grilled fish, chilled soups, and lighter fare begin to give way to food of substance, that daube of beef, your favorite (not the “Best!”) chili recipe is located, perhaps a slow roasted prime rib of beer, and we can enjoy a good hunk of steak (although I will give you that it’s also good in the summertime).

Nature also seems to be weary of the green growing frenzy of summer, and begins to prepare for the winter’s slumber. The green leaves slowly turn to the wonderful hues of autumn, fields display various soothing shades of beige, with different textures. I suppose at this point one could launch into some sort of metaphor on fall and life, but I won’t. I think about it, but we don’t have to discuss it.

Speaking of fall, everyone comes out and does stuff. Great events are everywhere, and step on each other. For instance, tomorrow (9/12) is Woodland Indian Discovery Days at Historic St. Mary’s City, a chance to see how the early Yaocomaco Indians lived and did, with exhibits and activities for all. Toward the other end of the county will be “Wharf Days” in Leonardtown, featuring musical performances, a sail boat race between two local high schools, and I hear a historic boat tour. At Tudor hall, there will be art exhibited, plays presented, and MFO has created a special genealogical exhibit on the (National Anthem) Keys. It was the residence of Phillip Key, father of Francis Scott. Too bad there’s nothing to do in the county. Next weekend will be one of those “Tastes of St. Mary’s County”.

And the subject that won’t die, somebody sent me a link to a review in the Wash Post of a place called “Counter” in Reston. Part of a new chain of burger joints, it features upscale patties where you have to “first choose beef, turkey, veggie or chicken and one of three sizes. Then, there are 10 kinds of cheese -- herbed goat spread, anyone? -- plus 28 toppings, including dried cranberries and fried eggs, and 18 sauces. Some are free, some cost extra. In total, there are more than 312,000 possible combinations.” There's that ubiquitous incredible, edible, egg again!!

On the sporting scene, that tinkling you heard the other night was the glass tennis shoe that fell off the foot of Melanie Oudin at the US Open. NBC hurriedly spent $$$$$ for numerous “Georgia Peach” promos with fuzzy shots of an open mouthed Melanie staring at the firmament, along with the "gleeful mother (a whole other story) interview", announcers fawning about "the kind of kid you want next door!" Well, guess what, she met an opponent other than a brooding Russian, and was excused in a straight set loss, negating the Media's entitlement to the finals. No doubt she has talent, but not yet the savior of women’s tennis in the USA. Remember Michelle Wie….

And I do remember that eight years ago today, I was standing in the radio room in Hazelrigg staring in disbelief at the events that changed our world forever..


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Qwick Wead for Wednesday the 9th

As I write this Lite Wednesday entry, in just about an hour, it will be 09:09:09, on 09/09/09. I’m sure it will be noted in the press and on TV. Not sure there is any evil association with a trio of 9’s such as there might be if this were back in early June of 2006, with that more famous grouping of 6’s. I already heard one report about “not happening”, etc. Unless I’m wrong (too often the case) it was true last year in August, and will be true again in October next year (if you allow double digits). After you get by “12” things will get scarce.

A reader reports seeing that egg (raw and fried) in the middle of a Pizza, in France.

And I could go off on the new sports media darling Melanie Oudin, but I won’t. Although she’s just 17, I hope she


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It does Rule!!

Confirming the old saying about apples falling from trees and the distance thereof, it is not surprising that both FOJTE and FOJTY enjoy the culinary arts. The former is more taken with nouveau style, while the latter quite knows his way around a smoker and barbeque. He passed along some shots of what you can do with 2 pounds of bacon, sausage, and some seasonings, resulting in what must be the king of pork fat. The formal name for the dish/creation is called a “Bacon Explosion”. Basically you start with a bacon weave, layer of sausage,

more bacon,

more sausage, seasonings

and then roll it up.

On the smoker (or oven) for a couple of hours (with some cooling beverages), and you got it. Unfortunately there were no shots of the finished product (been there, done that!), but you can see the whole formal process on the web. Can’t go wrong with pork fat.

MFO also did some pork product this weekend, however it was in the form of a sage crusted pork tenderloin, from a recipe (p. 39) in the October Cuisine at Home.

So all the flutters enjoyed a weekend with the alternate white meat''

Oddz and Endz

Server Lexicon – thanks to the reader who added the fact that unless the server is willing to respond to a menu selection with: “Bad Choice!”, then saying “Good Choice!” probably isn’t necessary.

Food Trend? – another reader has noticed a trend of putting a fried egg on things, including a burger. I seem to remember seeing that done someplace..

Sports note: Over the weekend, I did spend some couch time with the US Open tennis. While commenting on the grunting and squealing might be appropriate in today’s pork related blog, it’s something else. I’ve noticed a trend (?) that when a player hits a good shot for a winner, it is not uncommon for them to clench their fists, do a semi-crouch, and scream/shout/say: “C’mon!”. I am not sure what their intent is. Does the player want us to join up and go with them someplace? Are we to jump down on the court? Where are we going? Does s/he feel they’re slipping behind and need to hurry up? I don’t get it.

and, even if it's for a bacon explosion, you can still

Monday, September 7, 2009

Laboring Day thisis and thatses...

catching up....

Well, it happened again. As we’ve said before, what’s the matter with people? Have the words “fair” , “considerate”, or “polite” left the English language and behavior? Civility seems to have been replaced by “me first”, or “get outta my way”. I decided to stop for a quick Latte at the Brewing Grounds Thursday on my way to work, but it was getting a bit late. The need for caffeine overcame the clock so I pulled into a parking place and went in the shop. It appeared that there was a gathering of some sort as there were several ladies sort of milling around in the back. I was maybe third in line, and right on the ragged edge time wise, but decided in for a nickel, etc.. As I was about second from the counter a woman from the back came up to the lady in front of me and said “(name), are you in line?” When an affirmative answer was received she said, would you mind getting me a no-fat, triple (you know the drill), oh, and (another name) wants a (whatever). No look in my direction, no checking to see if anybody was behind, “sure!" said (first name. I was ultimately proud of myself (or should it be ashamed?), as I merely turned on my heel and left them to each other. What’s the matter with people?

On a brighter note, we watched a nice food show on PBS/WETA last week, it was called “Sandwiches That You Will Like”. It featured sandwiches that are regional in nature, the kind of thing I really like. Of course, they eventually wound their way to Philly and did the competition between Pat’s and Geno’s for cheesesteaks, and did a piece on the Mufellatta in the Big Easy, but they also went to Taylor, IA for a “maid-rite” burger. Then Kellys in Boston for an original roast beef, or maybe to Buffalo for…wings? Nope, a “Beef on Weck” (a kimmelweck roll). Or you folks in St. Louis know about a St. Paul Sandwich? – egg foo young patty (made with bean sprouts and minced white onions) served with dill pickle slices, white onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato between two slices of white bread. I do not believe despite 35 years in that town, I have heard of or experienced one. Louisville contributes a “hot brown” from the Brown hotel ~1926; an open faced turkey affair with pimiento (of course) and a mornay sauce. I could go on. It’s always refreshing to see the variety of food that abounds in our country. You can go into an Applebee’s anywhere and you wouldn’t know if you were in California, Texas, or Connecticut, but if you look a bit there’s unique real food that reflects local culture. That’s what it’s all about.

Note to Servers: more words to add to your “do not use” list, which should already contain antiques like “Hon”, “you guys” and “working”. Please add “AbsoLUTEly”, “not a problem!!!”, and terms like “EXcellent, or “PERfect” in response to a request or order. Thank you.

(not very accomplised picture of) Harvest Moon:

a sort of technical definition from someplace:

The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox (about September 23). Near the time of the autumnal equinox, the angle of the moon's orbit relative to the Earth's horizon is at its minimum, causing the full moon to rise above the horizon much faster than usual. Since the difference of the moon's rising time on successive nights barely varies, the moon appears to rise at nearly the same hour for several nights in succession. Because the harvest moon, like any full moon, must rise near the hour of sunset, harvest workers in the Northern Hemisphere may be aided by bright moonlight after sunset on several successive evenings. A similar effect is observed in corresponding southern latitudes around March 21.

Well, today is the last day of the unofficial summer. Investigations as to where that time goes are still underway. But, for your last summer meal, be sure to


Friday, September 4, 2009

Currying Favor...

Funny how things run in streaks. You go months without particularly having lunch opportunities, and suddenly… Boom!, they fall in your lap. Yesterday marked the fourth within a week, and each with a different (for want of a better word) theme. St. James Pub with its “just right” no frills diner/pub thing, Corbels with its upscale finessed foodie approach, the Tea Room and the “ladies who lunch” venue, (we could throw in the Ruddy Duck happy hour event), and yesterday (with some trepidation) I accepted a spur of the moment invite to meet at Bollywood Masala. Alert readers will remember that I have an aversion (philosophically and physically) to (overly) spicy foods, which has pretty much kept me away from there until now despite rather favorable reports. But, with assurances that I could avoid masochistic eating with correct choices, off I went to our center of international cuisine in San Souci. As locals know, lunch there on a weekday can provide parking issues as it is an extremely popular luncheon destination. And, given the wide variety of food available, why not? A good concept.

So in we go. The room seemed somehow smaller than the outside would indicate; with about five or six tables centering banquettes on either wall, and the “buffet” is situated along the back wall. The muted color scheme mostly runs to dark colors. And, as those same alert readers know, “Bollywood” is term for a Hindi language based segment of the Indian film industry. So part of the décor are what I (probably dated) would call “movie posters” from some of the films featuring the leading protagonists (I assumed). They also have what I further assume is music from the movies playing continuously, which is kind of up tempo with a beat. We were ushered to one of the booths, and with my back to the buffet I couldn’t count the chafing dishes on it, but memory serves to make me think there might have been over ten. Each had a sign noting what the dishes contained, for instance I think I saw one featuring Tandoori Chicken.

Since my companion was a frequent diner there and knew my predilections, we didn’t look at the menu, and an order was placed for cucumber salad, garlic naan, and after sparring little over the numbers a bit, “chicken five ways”. It so happened that (I think) the owner waited on our table and was gracious from the beginning to our departure. I’m sure that next time I could, as I’ve been told, ask him for selections that wouldn’t numb the tongue (of which I’m sure there are many). Eventually the salad arrived, a big bowl lined with iceberg lettuce containing diced red onion, cucumber, and tomato, all dressed with a cooling yoghurt. It was very tasty with good texture (crunch from the cukes). Eventually the garlic naan found us, and it was indeed garlicky, kind of moist (maybe from garlic oil?) on the topside, but crackly on the bottom. The chicken X ways arrived in a cloud of sizzle and steam that any self respecting fajita would be proud of, containing hunks of (white meat) chicken atop a bed of onion, green pepper and tomatoes that had been grilled or sautéed. Each (8 or so) piece of chicken had a different spice and hence color. After the steam subsided it was kind of a pretty dish. The rice which accompanied it was a bit on the gummy side, but the liquid from the chicken sort of lubricated it. I tentatively chose a piece of innocuous looking chicken, and took a small bite. Hmmmm, okay, no pain, just nicely flavored chicken. I couldn’t begin to describe all the X ways, but some had a yellowish (saffron/curry?) hue, another a greenish tinge (cilantro?), and another a orangish appearance. Some of them (I think the greenish one) sort of let you know you ate it a few minutes later, but it wasn’t “reach for the napkin” hot. And, at the present time, there have been no gastronomic repercussions.

As part of my exhaustive research, I consulted their website, and looked at the interesting menu featuring Northern Indian Cuisine. I’m glad we bypassed that menu on our visit, as it presents a bewildering amount of choices, further cementing my idea of asking for guidance. Interestingly, by far the largest category was the breads, with 17 entries! (chicken 8, lamb 10). For you vegetarians out there you’ll be happy. Lots of selections with no mention of Portobello Napoleon!

All in all, I was pleased to be taken by the hand for my introductory experience, and now that the dam has broken, I’ll probably go back and begin to poke around in the menu. I would think that most of their customers go for the type of cuisine, not the décor and appointments, and in that regard most likely you won’t be disappointed (as poor of a judge of Indian cuisine as I am). I do know that they have the record for length of being in business serving Indian food here in the Park, so they must be doing something right..

and, even though it was an unplanned visit, fortunately I was....

DF(in this case)L

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Save, save, save!!

"Value" is an increasingly common word these days. In the face of the declining economy, we find value more and more evident in the lexicon of the food service industry. And, now it’s expanding to the wine world as well. I’ve just received my 8/31 version of the either (depending on your point of view) iconic or pedantic “Wine Advocate" by Robert Parker. Like him or not, he’s a bell weather of wine futures and wineries fortunes can hang in the balance of his ratings.

Well, in his latest issue roughly half of the pages (70 – 124) are devoted to “value” wines. I think that 20 dollars is the cutoff. Besides that, there is a little note that he will soon publish his “Parker’s Wine Values – The world’s best wine values under $25” the book itself might be considered “value” as Bob says it will be $14.95, a paperback with 500 pages no less. Could it be that there's a glut of wine on the market?

Okay, so we’ll rush right out and get that 90 point Ch. La Bastide ’07 Corbieres for 12 bucks! “Dimensions of stony, iodine like minerality to its black pepper-tinged raw beef and blackberries…” Goodness! Or if Italian is your fav, maybe go to that value ceiling of 20 bucks and get that ’07 Dolcetto D’Alba Serraboella from Cigluiti also with 90 points attached – bursting with dark fruit, grilled herbs, scorched earth and licorice. Yippee! Without launching into a harangue on the wine speak, it sure is amazing how they come up with that stuff. Must be a data base someplace.

The trouble with these things is that sort of “Consumer Reports” syndrome. Where can you get this stuff? To be sure there’s always a source given, like the Dolcetto above is referenced to “Indigenous Selections in Ft. Lauderdale, with a phone number. Let’s just call them up and…. Oh, wait you can’t ship to Maryland. Well, I guess you could get in your car…. Lots of allegedly good wines that we are not able to take advantage of..

What we can take advantage of, earlier in the issue is a report on California Chards and Pinot Noirs – mostly central coast, probably over a hundred listings.. These are in more familiar territory as there are labels we’re more familiar with. There’s an ’07 Calera Chardonnay with 90 points for 19 bucks, as well as their ’05 Mt. Harlan Selleck Vineyard Pinot for $84 (93 pts) – porcini mushroom and forest floor notes. Fess Parker, Byron, Edna Valley, Ojai, and so on.

A good reference and guideline, but just more info, you still have to find what you like and drink that…

Answer to quiz – it’s not in Larousse because it’s of Russian heritage. And Coulibiac of Salmon isn’t something you’ll make for that quick week night dinner. Sample Recipe for your cooking enjoyment. Quite the dish. Invite me over when it's ready, and I'll be sure to


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lite Wednesday..

will be just that. an early community based meeting takes up the usual creative time..

Just a quick quiz today, what would you expect a "Coulibiac of Salmon" to be

Hint: it's not in Larousse

you might need to


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tea and Oxyura Jamaicensis...

Tea for Two (er, one)

Lunch seems to be the order of the day, and I partook of another yesterday, at the Tea Room in Leonardtown. I had not been there in years (previous experience was a wine dinner as I recall), so I gladly accepted a chance to go there for lunch yesterday. As locals will recall, it is part of the “Antique Center” near Leonardtown, Md. The association is apt, as the Tea Room is somewhat of an antique itself. They are in the process of sprucing up the outside which is sorely needed. Once inside, you enter a Victorian style set of rooms with frilly stuff around, along with (guess what?) antique style furniture. There are a couple of main eating areas and a small bar. Although it was offered, we remained at a smallish two top in the first room, which had two other tables occupied, one by a “ladies who lunch”, and the other with an extended family of some sort with at least three generations represented. You’re presented with two menus, one for the food and one for the tea. An extensive list of teas are available, both “regular” with all those goofy names, and some selection of herbal ones. When asked what we would like to drink, my companion (who had just had issues with keys and car) ordered a soothing herbal tea, and after staring longingly at the wines in the bar through the little window lattice, I sighed and said “water, please”. The gimmick with the tea is that you must select your own teacup from a hutch like affair, and then a pot is brought to the table. It’s a good size pot, probably almost antique or at least a replica.

The tea/water arrived at the table in short order, and we were asked if we were ready to order (we didn’t get the “hi I’m….” by the way). No thank you. We were still in the “catching up” stage of conversation and had not even cracked the menu. Conversation continued despite several polite queries as to whether or not we were ready to order. A better read of the table would have been appreciated. I was also asked if I wanted more water yet, which struck me as a bit odd. After finally turning to the food menu encased in plastic, you find a selection of soups (including that favorite, du jour), salads (including a Caesar – no mention of anchovy options), and sandwiches (including a crab cake). I didn’t see any watercress options for sandwiches (the tea room staple). There is also a quiche of the day. At any rate when we were finally bullied into ordering, I selected a ham sandwich (which choice of bread) with cole slaw, and my companion took a vegetarian wrap with “vegetarian bacon” (which could not be described by the server) and other vegetables were ordered. When they materialized at the table, it was mostly that. Plunk,there they were. My sandwich was encased in obviously store bought rye, rather thin, and the lower layer further compressed by cutting the sandwich, but it did contain a fairly nice portion of ham, and it was not lunch meat. The slices were so uniform that the must have been made that way, but it was thick enough and fairly tasty. There was a toothpick stuck in each half, through a couple of grapes. The vegetarian wrap was enjoyed, although we never did figure out the bacon thing.

It’s another option to Lunch in Leonardtown, and perhaps has a niche for a quiet, kind of secluded lingering lunch (once you finally order and are left to your conversations). No panache, not overly cutesy, but probably fairly reliable. They’ve been there long enough. Next time, though, I might inquire about that glass of Pinot Grigio..and keep track of your car keys!!

Oxyura Jamaicensis

After an intervening trip to the dentist to have a crown affixed in the feeders chops, MFO and I trekked over a surprisingly traffic free bridge to the Solomons to attend a social event comprised of the Southern Maryland Rotary Clubs. It was held at the Ruddy Duck, the newish (~3 months) Brew Pub near at Dowell Road. We have not been there yet on an official feeder visit, but this was a good chance to look in again. Our group occupied the raised bar area and smallish room to the side where the appetizers were being served. The overall space is rather large, and provides a view of the open kitchen which is there, but doesn’t dominate. Somehow my eye was always aware of the Pizza Oven which has a geyser of flame visible. Recently installed acoustic baffles were judged by the owner to be quite effective. That has been the main complaint I’ve received from those who have been there, so things are developing. As most folks, know, the Kelleys from Brome Howard Inn are part of the team there, and their deft hand and experience is showing. All the servers we encountered were friendly, used direct eye contact, and got your order fairly efficiently (in our case a couple of glasses of chardonnay – yes I know it’s a brew pub). The appetizers served were almost a complete run through of the appetizer items on the menu, and all that I sampled were very good. Having sort of a sports bar atmosphere, you would expect a lot of them, and there are. There were the “standard” offerings, such as the hearty Nachos, chicken wings, skins, artichoke spinach dip, which were all executed well, but also some nuances like the “Duck a Dilla”, some great calamari, and a nice find for the Feeder, the Argentinean cheese balls, dubbed “Chipas a la Carlos” in honor of the other owner. They look almost like golf balls (no dimples), but turn out to be an intriguing little package of dough (?) surrounding some very tasty mild cheese which might be goat, but that’s just a guess. The supply of appetizers was ample, kept fresh, and all were “done right”, which is exactly what you should expect from that team.

As I have mentioned before, there are some very interesting beers out there, and although I only sampled the Sandbar IPA, which was an excellent representation of that variety, copper colored, really hoppy (although I did think I got some citrus notes – sorry a wine term), and quite refreshing. I noted that it’s “Bitterness” was characterized at “60 BU’s”. One is tempted to guess that “BU’s” are Bitterness Units, but who knows. I guess if Parker has his 100 points, beers can have their BU’s. Wonder if 100 (?) is the end of their scale. As an aside, the feeder is considering getting of his wine box and start exploring the world of non-megalopolis beers. There seems to be nuances out there that are worth pursuing.

Despite heavy grazing on the appetizers, we did a “take out” Pizza for later snacking. Staying between the lines, we did the “Classic Pepperoni and Cheese”. After a relaxing cocktail on our porch the re-heated pizza on the stone was excellent. The pepperoni was spicy, tasty and not just “there” such as you get at the other pizza outlets available. Crunchy crust and snappy cheese. Nice. Wonder if they deliver…..

While sometimes a group setting such as we experienced is not representative of a single table visit, there was nothing there to indicate that. We’ll be visiting soon to explore other portions of their menu. And yes, although it was appetizers, we were.....