Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bags are Packed... again...

On the road again...

There were still papers to be signed, letters of authorization to be attended to, and since Missouri is closer to Wisconsin than Maryland, the day after Christmas we decided to return to the road..

After a very nice Christmas with the FOJ’s and friends, we once again packed and saddled up the MOMSTER and retraced our steps back to Wisconsin.

As usual there were some interesting diversions

And glimpses of the Midwest years ago

But there are signs of the new age juxtaposed on the past..

And occasionally, but not often enough, there is just that little satisfaction of seeing that idiot that tailgated you, cut to the right, cut back in front, at speeds exceeding by far the legal limit get their just deserts:

So here we area gain in Onalaska,  and we spent the last couple of days visiting attorneys, getting this form and that, finding out (and following) stupid rules of law, and generally getting the “estate” in order. One of the things we have to do is come up with an “inventory” of Dorothy’s “stuff”. With MFO being an archivist, she is aware of the value of documenting what people have at a period of history. So, the bottom feeder and his trust Canon were pressed into service to create a photographic record of the things that MFOM has accumulated over the years. Among others, there was jewelry, wall art, and the numerous counted cross stitch things she created..

It was kind of fun (maybe interesting is a better choice of words) to go through what an individual has gathered together over the years, and what a piece of her life revealed. I don’t think there is anything very valuable in monetary terms, but there are various things that have memories to her daughters. “oh, I remember when she wore that”, or “There’s that duck we looked at for years”. They will be distributed to members of the family that may or may not remember her, but we do.

Food was of course secondary here, but we did have another snack at the bar in Waterfront (complete with the Whiskey/Brandy conversation), and tonight (Wednesday) we had carry out from Festival Foods, a local supermarket that has really good "to go" food.  We had some fried chicken that (IMHO) beat our local McKays.. I also am transporting back a selection of Wisconsin beers..

So tomorrow we have decided to point the MOMSTER eastward toward Maryland, as we are waiting on various agencies to verify MFO as executor, and anoint her as official to handle the estate.  We'll be home a day earlier than normal, as usually we arrive on New Year's Eve day.

We'll conclude a trip that had lovely time with the family, a good meal with friends, and some melancholy moments with memories of MFOM..  It's always different.. and as necessary we were


Saturday, December 24, 2011

pointed south....

This trip is kind of more coming and going rather than being, but we’re now stable for a few days in STL..
We drove down from La Crosse on Thursday. During the night it snowed a little making for some nice road scenes (again). We have lots of road scenes.

We originally planned to take the “back” route, but with the forecasts for flurries and so forth we decided the low risk approach was best. So we retraced our steps to Rockford, and then stayed straight south on I39 through Bloomington then branching off on I55 to St. Louis. Picture 4 or 5 hours of this:

Although there was the occasional diversion:

But eventually the boredom was over and we arrived at our quarters here in St. Louis.

All through the planning of this trip we had been hoping to be able to join up with our friend from DC who would be back here for the holidays. As it turned out, the only intersection available was last night (Friday), and we decided to meet for an early dinner as we all had stuff to do preparing for the Eve and Day…

We hoped to stay in the area and not journey downtown or up to Clayton. Our friend consulted his daughter who is quite food knowledgeable on the local front, and she suggested (among others) Peppe’s Apt. 2. A quick look at Yelp confirmed that it would be a good choice, Italian, and what better cuisine in St. Louis.

Peppe’s is located on a corner in Kirkwood, and the name arises from the fact that the building that houses it was once an apartment. Consequently it has a couple of “front doors” with the real entrance on the side. Of course we amused the diners by trying each one before tumbling to the real arrangement. Once inside we were seated at a lovely table in the corner of a smallish room, done all in whites, with several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Tables were covered in white tablecloths, with the usual silver and sparkling glassware. The napkins were folded into those sort of little hat things, quite fancy. There is just something inviting about sitting down at such a table, it shows they are proud of the place and are setting the scene for a fine dining experience.

Flashback to the formative years of the Feeder, when he was figuring out what good food and service could be here in St. Louis during the late 70’s and the following decade. One of our favorite “going out” places was a smallish restaurant on “the hill” home of Italian deli’s, and little restaurants. There was a place we found called Gian-Peppe’s, a little place hidden behind a plain front that enclosed just such a place as described above. And the food was heavenly, or at least my memory of the time. So naturally, I was curious if this incarnation related to the past one. The three of us arrived before our friend and his wife, and almost as soon as we were seated, an affable server approached. His first words: “Hello, would you care for a cocktail or glass of wine while you wait for your friends?” and offering a smallish wine list. Despite my initial resolve to stick with wine, in the end I couldn’t resist the drink test. I got through the DMOTR part, and before I could finish, he said “would you like a twist with that?”. That, my friends, is a first. At last…

MFO had a class of chardonnay, and it was brought very quickly, and the drink was perfect. At last…. So at that point I asked him if there was any relation between the place on the Hill and the present restaurant. Indeed there was. This place is run by the son of owner of the original, and our server had been with him for the last decade. When he heard we had been former customers, he said the bread and the veal were the same, and welcome home.. He went over the specials, and upon leaving the table said, if you have any questions, my name is Larry. That’s okay.

Fast forward now (still with me?) to right not. It is Christmas eve, we are getting ready to go over to FOJTE’s annual lasagna dinner. So to my disappointment (and maybe your relief) I am not going to go into my usual detailed description of our dinner at Peppe’s. I had veal saltimbocca, MFO had the special of tagliatelle with beef tips, my friend had a pork chop, and MFOS had a chicken Marsala. A quick note on the menu (with choices for all) contained a spaghetti dish that was described as “fried”, and Larry confirmed that indeed it was sautéed until crispy. Our friend’s wife was tempted, but said she was a little reluctant about the crispy part, maybe another time, and was there any meat sauce with that? No, says Larry, but we could just make the regular spaghetti and chef would be glad to put a little meat sauce on that. They could have said no, that’s what is on the menu we’re sorry. But no, they offered to make whatever the customer wanted.

Everything was cooked properly, with only the fingerling potatoes a little on the dry side. But the veal was tender, the prosciutto salty, and the mozzarella cheese melted just so. We split some panacotti, and our friends a chocolate tart cake.

All through the evening the atmosphere was friendly, service good, and in general a very nice experience. I don’t think that Peppe junior visited the table, although he did appear at another one that appeared to be regulars. I don’t object to that really hard, but it would have been nice if he checked on us.

So you St. Louians, put Peppe’s on your list for Italian…

And finally, I am not sure when next you will see the feeder, tomorrow is Christmas, and we leave for a return journey to Wisconsin on Monday.
So, like us slow down, enjoy friends and family present and memories of those who are not with us this year. Food is kind of secondary to that, but it sure helps.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the Feeder Friends. And by damn, you better be


and thanks to FOJTE for his network

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apps, Dinner, and a Puzzler...

This is kind of out of chronological order, but so am I. While we alluded to our food experience during the journey entry, this one is more focusing on that than the travel…

We arrived in LaCrosse/Onalaska late in the afternoon Monday (what day is this again?). After seeing MFOS for a bit we retired (as has been reported already) to our Courtyard in downtown LaCrosse. Kind of beat up from the two day drive, we freshened a bit, unpacked some and decided to return to The Waterfront, a restaurant we discovered during last year’s Christmas visit. We eschewed the nearby Piggy’s, wanting a bit more upscale than Piggy’s has to offer. So we mid range DFD’s and walked down a block or so. The bar area is very comforting, dark wood, upholstered chairs, and so forth. Yes, there might be a fern somewhere. The bar was fairly full of holiday revelers, in various states of sobriety and loudness, but we found kind of a quiet corner table where I could observe what was going on and settled in.

I must admit it took longer than I wished for a server to approach the table, but finally she did with “Tavern” (not a bar, see) menus and asked if we would like a drink. Ya, you betcha!! MFO did her Sapphire Gimlet request, and I ordered the DMOTRWAT. I knew I was in Wisconsin when she immediately asked “Brandy or Whiskey?”. As you know,Brandy Manhattans are a time honored cultural stable up here, and I should have known that. I clarified that I was non-native and asked for Jim Beam.

The menu was kind of interesting (you can check it if you wish) in that it had that “Three for Sixteen Dollars” option with some nice choices. There were a la carte items as well, like a cheese or antipasti board, P.E.I mussels, flatbreads, burgers, Panini’s (including a Cubano) and so forth. The “three-fer” menu was also attractive with a caprese bruschetta, mixed olive an nuts, some tenderloin skewers, and a couple of other attractive options.

About this time, the server appeared with the drinks, and the light through my glass revealed there might be some sweet vermouth in there, it had that reddish cast. I questioned same to her and she whisked off to the bar. Very soon the barkeep himself appeared and apologized, he didn’t read the ticket closely enough, and delivered the paler, correct drink. So we sipped while we vacillated around the menu several times, definitely settling on this, or wait, maybe that, but what about?…. the sign of a nicely prepared menu. We finally chose to do the three-fer of the bruschetta, the chicken skewers, and the blackened chicken quesadilla. Soon after the order went in, she returned with the news that the tenderloing skewers were off, but chef could do chicken. Okay, fine. Bring me another drink. She did.

Soon the food arrived, all on one plate, and I would have to say that it was quite good. The “blackened” part also referred to the tortilla, making it a bit unsightly, but it added a nice crunch and the chicken was just a little spicy. A pretty nice evening.

So the next day (Tuesday) was spent in looking at and photographing things like MFOM 200 packs of playing cards, knick knacks and other objects that will have to be adjudicated. We also spent some time in the attorney’s office and were thankful that MFOM had pretty much taken care of things. Still some forms to be taken care of with the IRS, local agencies, but nothing that seems to be more than procedural efforts.

We decided to return to The Waterfront for dinner, this time with MFOS along with us. We had made a reservation the previous evening, and when we arrived we were glad we did, because several parties were in the lobby. We were shown to our table which turned out to be one of the banquettes on the sides of the dining spaces, and although that isn’t my first choice I said nothing as the rest of the party seemed content. The main dining area (if you don’t remember the last review) is very nice, nice tones, white tablecloths, properly dressed servers and generally a first class place. Unfortunately when the server approached we had to endure the “be taking care of you” speech, but after that (probably management requirement) she proved to be a very proficient server. About this time, there was a little fire at the table across from us, when a careless diner dipped his menu into the tea candles at the table. Our server said it happens fairly often and she can tell what’s burning by the smell (menu, napkin, etc.) We first chose drinks, and I was again asked “Brandy or Whiskey”. I’ll learn. With the water, we were offered our choice of lemon, lime, or….cucumber!

The dinner menu was also very intriguing. A single landscape page, with one side devoted to their “philosophy” and the other side contained the food. It was divided into Beef, Seafood, and Pork/Poultry/Lamb and Veggie. The beef was all prime, and the seafood all “fresh” such as the: “ALASKAN DAY-BOAT HALIBUT • winter savory taboulleh, caramelized leek, cracked pepper aioli” or the “WILD CAUGHT SALMON • barley, asparagus coins, wild mushrooms, goat cheese, pickled beet”; on the bovine side were such things as “8 OUNCE PRIME TENDERLOIN FILET • aged 30 days; and their Signature 10 OUNCE BONE-IN PRIME TENDERLOIN FILET • aged 30 days” prices were fairly high, upper twenties and lower thirties. A green salad was included, but for an additional cost you could have a wedge, or Caesar, or roasted beet. There were also sides available, the nowadays ubiquitous mac and cheese, and that sort of things. Appetizers were kind of a repeat of the Tavern menu items. She explained the specials of the evening, there were some half shell Oysters from (I think Maine), and a dinner item of seared sashimi grade tuna. The soup du jour was a “New Orleans gumbo”, and she said that she thought on a scale of one to ten, it was a six in terms of spice”. I thought that was very considerate..

A lovely basket of fresh bread and crunchy lavosh was served along with the drinks (strike two on the DM). Our server said our evening would be fabulous, and upon my reply of “I don’t do fabulous” she said she’d work on it. Water remained filled, and we were brought a little dish of sliced lemons and limes for it. I should have taken the cucumber. Interesting option.

MFO requested the COLOSSAL SHRIMP & DAY-BOAT DIVER SCALLOPS • linguini, grilled asparagus, cream sauce of black truffle, lobster, pancetta & oven-roasted tomato with cabernet reduction; MFOS took the Salmon; and King Oyster requested a half dozen of his subjects, and the seared tuna.

Things were brought to the table in reasonable time, and everything was quite tasty. In fact, really good.

Now, at this point (if you’re still with me) the feeder has a bit of a problem. If you recall, our first visit last winter to the restaurant was for lunch, and MFO spent a rather uncomfortable night and early morning. She had had a cranberry chicken wrap for lunch. That sort of lingered in my mind, and this morning I am sad to report that I also had some intestinal difficulties. It is hard for me to believe that a high end restaurant would have contamination issues. I must admit that raw oysters and seared tuna would be a candidate for bacteria, but geez, would you think? Could be stress, I just don’t know. Perplexing.. I didn’t make it up…

So tomorrow we load the MOMSTER, point south to STL for Christmas. We may have to return after Christmas to get some more paperwork. Oh, the place we’re staying in in STL doesn’t have internet. So sketchy may follow.

Tired tonight, but maybe still


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Road trip...Phase One

T'was the day before travel, and all through the house rang (expergated) cries  of “did you bring the” and “don’t forget the”. Finally, the packages and bags were packed in the MOMSTER with care, with hopes that the road trip would soon be there.

So sure enough, at the seemingly immutable start time of 0900, the MOMSTER rolled out of the digs, got a cup o' Starbucks and headed out. Since we were going to Wisconsin first, we took the northern route, braving the beltway and the dreaded Wilson Bridge. Maybe since it was Sunday, all were negotiated with minimal worry or traffic and we finally got out into the “country”. We took I68 through western Maryland, and saw some really lovely scenes like this covered bridge

As we gradually got into the higher elevations we were shocked and surprised to see

As the altitude increased, so did the intensity, but it really made for some pretty views..

And also gave a little cause for concern

But on the other side of the mountains the snow left and the sun returned. Getting late in the day, the light softened and illuminated some homes in “the country”. Travelling at this time of the year is really nice, I just love the muted browns, grays, and dark silhoutetted trees. It’s pretty calming.. I can see the attraction for living “out there”..


 After a long day of over six hundred miles and nine hours, we stopped in our usual place in New Paris, OH. We won't discuss dinner. It might have come in a bag, but we were road weary. The next day took us to Indianapolis (where they probably were still celebrating their victory) and then north on I65 for (one of) the world’s most boring drives up to I80 and into the dreaded transit of Chi town seeing this plenty of times…

Actually the previous years of constant construction seemed to have paid off as there weren’t any real horror stories. That gave us a time to observe some of the more interesting trucks on the route.

 But finally, finally,  we got to Rockford, and then we were:

There’s just something nice about that state (besides butterburgers), it’s peaceful and there was a special flyover in our honor..

But just to remind of us the present, we came across some luckless individual on the other side of the road who was not having a good day...happy holidays Buddy!!

But as the sun got low, the countryside again came alive, showing off the white birches standing against that soft palette of grays and browns. Mother Nature does paint a very nice job...

And finally that welcome sign appeared, and we headed for it

After contacting MFOS we finally settled into our Hotel in downtown LaCrosse and at last had lovely apps and drinks at that Waterfront Place to make up for the despicable but convenient road food..Today we did lawyers and paper work, but tonight we went back to the Waterfront for dinner with MFOS, and we raised a glass to Dorothy. And in her honor, we were


Monday, December 19, 2011

Road SITREP one..

just a quick update from New Paris, OH where, after a rather long day, we RON.  Saw all kinds of weather yesterday, from sun to rain to snow.  Snow?  what's that?  oh yeah, that white stuff.  Plan is to push on today to Wisconsin, with the only obstical of note the City of Broad Shoulders..

If you haven't had a chance, check out the story below this ("OMG") and thanks to loyal readers with background on the shape notes.   Used to help "laypeople" and stupes like me with the singing.  In my case it didn't help..

also got a nice stringer report about Big Larry's in Leonardtown.  real local stuff..

And thank you very much vaunted Green Bay Packers who easily put me in first place in my fantasy football league only to mail it in yesterday at KC causing me to lose my playoff game and finish my season.  And a special thanks to Victor Cruz who couldn't hold on to the pigskin...

Yes dear, i'm getting off this thing so we can load and go!  today we will be


Sunday, December 18, 2011


No, not Facebook shorthand this time.  

We heard those words in their full meaning yesterday during a wonderful little concert in the reconstructed chapel of 1667 down at Historic St. Mary’s City.  Readers may remember that in a couple of my stints as volunteer weekend docent at the chapel this summer, a group of Mennonites appeared and asked if they could sing in the Chapel.   Well, that same group contacted the City and asked if they could perform some seasonal music for us as thanks for the use of the chapel.  So yesterday they gave the little group of us “Chapvols” a magical performance in the Chapel.  Their little “choir” of twelve sang many beautiful hymns for us, some familiar, most not.  Silent Night, Joy to the World were included, but many other great pieces were sung which I had never heard before.  They loaned us a few of their hymnals so we could follow/sing along.  It was very interesting to see the music, I suppose some of my more musical friends might know, but the notes were of many different shapes: little triangles, rectangles, ovals and so forth.  I had not seen that before.  Tempos were also unusual, with timings like 12/8 and 4/2.  That gave rise to some wonderful rhythms and what I would call syncopation or maybe antiphonal singing (I am far afield here) which I don’t normally associate with hymns. This music was out of a culture much different than the one we grew up in. One of the hymns I enjoyed most was called “O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”.  The way they sang it made me think of music from the deep hills of Appalachia, with beautiful harmonies, almost some call and response, and one of those really nice tempos.  They must have given us over a dozen songs, I didn’t count.  We finished with an encore of “Away in a Manger”.  And just as they were done, the sun broke out and bathed the interior of the Chapel in lovely light.  A sign?

They were very appreciative of the use of the Chapel, and I cannot think of a more appropriate use of it than a small group of people of devoted faith singing praises to their God.  They were so good.  I am sure that He looked down and was very pleased at what He saw and heard.  And I’m also sure the spirits of all the early colonists resting in the field around the Chapel enjoyed it as well.  The Mennonites are such quiet, friendly, and open people, one wonders if maybe they got it right.  We were truly blessed with what we were part of yesterday.  We left with a warm feeling that we will carry into the Christmas season, and for a long time to come.

And, “carry” is an operative word here, as we still have to load the MOMSTER and begin the journey to the great white north.  Next feeder will appear…. Sometime from somewhere of course ready to


Thursday, December 15, 2011

One of Those "Of this and that's"

Yesterday I was going to include a rant over something I saw on the tele, but after describing the Madrigal Dinners, I got all warm and fuzzy and decided to not sully the holiday glow with a rant. Of course today the bile has cooled a bit, but I’ll pass it along anyway. Plus there’s some other foodie news to report..


I have complained before on how the once newsy “Today” show on NBC has moved toward becoming the National Inquirer of the air. More interviews on weepy people, aunts of axe murderers, attorneys for scum, and so forth rather than any hard news. Well, yesterday morning the LEAD story was that we should stay tuned because they were going to recount the “Thrilling conclusion of the Biggest Loser”. Boy that shook out the cobwebs! How did I miss that? I have stated before that I think that show is the most aptly named show on television. Now, I am in favor of getting fit (God knows I should) and losing weight, but how they turn that into a season long show I don’t know. And we might ask how did those folks get so obese in the first place? Or, has there been any follow-ups to check their weight one year after? Where is Jared?  Apparently the show has a huge following, although I have no idea why. I guess we might rely on H. L. Mencken to help us: “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”.

Modern Society

Somebody sent me a link to an interesting article called “How Social Media is Ruining your Mind”. Was kind of an interesting read, sort of centered on how the need for “instant” information, multitasking etc. is affecting your intelligence (not positively) some little factoids:

-The current average attention span is 5 seconds; ten years ago it was 12 minutes.
-The average office worker checks email 30 – 40 times per hour.
-People spend 700 Billion (with a B) minutes on Facebook per month.
-500,000 thousand people join Twitter every day.
-Students who gave up social media for 24 hours experienced hearing phantom phone vibrations, repeatedly reaching for a phone that wasn’t there, fidgeting and restlessness.

Oh, excuse me I have to go check my phone…


Catamaran’s on the Solomons has closed. The sheriff was pleased as he expects a “ decrease in the number of incidents on the island”. Despite the owner’s laments and statements that he “tried to run the place right”, the head of the Solomon’s Island Civic Association countered that “three stabbings in a bar, something’s not being run right”. But, guess what? That former owner says he is through with the Solomons and is looking to open a place in St. Mary’s County. And, he has his eye on the shuttered Lone Star here in the park. Oh, good.

We had a nice evening with friends at the Front Porch the other night.  we were able to be alone in that "Back Room" that has plush furniture, a little fireplace, and is somewhat removed from the bustle from the bar.  It was very pleasant.  We had to assure the server multiple times that indeed we didn't want to hear the specials and order dinner, we just wanted a quiet drink.  Actually we did have the cheese plate, and a seafood bruschetta which was quite tasty.  That cheese plate is one of the better bargains around.

Word has it that the current author of “Around Town” will be leaving the newspaper. There will be a new person taking over the section that "describes" restaurants in the area. Not to be confused with a review, it does highlight independent places however.. so the Feeder is awaiting, probably in vain…

Rolling along

Well we’re about to descend into the pre-road trip scramble of “where’s the…?”; “I can’t find my….”; “Did we remember to stop the mail?” in preparing for our journey to the Midwest.  Starting to check long range forecasts; What's that noise in the MOMSTER??  did you hear....?  Did I throw in my coat so i could be


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weekend Wrap...

yes, i know it's closer to next than last, but wanted to relate..

With all the events of the past weekend, one of the more fun of them sort of slipped my mind (along with the car keys). On Saturday night we joined a group of friends at Historic St. Mary’s City Madrigal dinner. We try to attend every year as it is one of those local things that brings community together in celebration of the Holiday Season. There’s just something comforting being in the State House, decorated as usual by the Margaret Brent Garden Club, and by “usual” I mean they normally do it. It is always beautifully decorated with natural plants and greens differently each year.

After enjoying socializing upstairs with little bits of this, tubs of that, stuffed ham sandwiches, punch or wine, we adjourned downstairs and were seated at the tables, set with a salad of field greens. Each place setting had a program/menu card with “Lord (or Lady) ”, and a little sprig of fresh holly. We had a great table by the risers for the choir and near the door in case a trip to “the necessary” was called for. Always appreciated. Since the setting is supposed to approximate the 17th century, the ladies who bring the food are referred to as “wenches”. We all had a good chuckle when our wench came to the table and announced she would be taking care of us. Little did she know she was taking care of the Bottom Feeder. A plated dinner was served, containing a nice piece of pepper encrusted tenderloin, a small piece of Rockfish Chesapeake (i.e., crab on top), some green beans, and roasted root vegetables (carrots and potatoes). Everything was actually pretty good, and the wine (Sauvignon Blanc or red meritage) flowed freely. Fried oysters (yes, I know, I’m still working) were served family style and I did my part. They were quite good. Dessert was a Smith (style) Island cake.

During the dinner the period costumed interpreters appeared occasionally with toasts, repartee and kept everyone in good humor. St. Maries Musica performed seasonal and Christmas carols. They too were in period costumes. They do community concerts around the area, you should try and catch a concert. They’re quite good. At the end of the evening everyone stood, joined hands and sang the traditional “Silent Night”. After that you’re supposed to throw your little sprig of holly into the fire as a sign of good luck for the coming year. We did, and we’re hopeful.

So it was one of those lovely evenings where friends gathered, had fun, talked, and enjoyed good food. There are three more dinners this weekend, normally sold out, but if you really want to go you could check with the city (240-895-4991). The money raised goes toward programs and keeping the Living History Museum alive!!

Next morning I gave a special “Chapel Tour” to the same bunch. I love talking about it..

Okay, suitcases begin to come up from the basement, MOMSTER had preventative maintenance and we’re gearing up for the journey.. and we will pack duds so we can be


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stages, Phases, and Passings..

Pausing, and moving on..

First, many thanks to all the readers and friends who expressed condolences regarding MFO’s Mother’s passing. We appreciated the thoughts and sympathy. While of course we will miss her we are pleased she is at peace, and will remain present in our memories. We should all be so fortunate to have such a full and long life.

MFO and I have altered plans of our holiday annual driving circle tour of the Midwest, and will be going counterclockwise this year. We will be leaving here Sunday and going VFR direct to Wisconsin, take care of things there as best we can, and then go south to St. Louis for Christmas with the FOJ’s. It seems a little tougher to be dealing with death in the season where Christians celebrate a special beginning of life, but such are stages and phases. We will all lift a glass to Dorothy and the rest of the family members of all the flutters that are not with us. It does give one pause for thought that one has achieved the elder status of the clan..

I will of course be taking the little brown notebook and the trusty Canon on the trip, looking for opportunities to record the passing scene, and ever on the outlook for dining opportunities. We may do a breakfast at the Hungry Peddler in Onalaska, or maybe the place we found in La Crosse, and of course the ever increasing array of places in St. Louis.

So enjoy each day, exult in the pleasures it brings, you never know.. As Albert Einstein said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”.

 Moving on..
Veering back to food, we had a chance to visit Bistro Français in Georgetown over the weekend. We ate there after attending the annual Christmas concert in the National Cathedral. It was their first performance after the earthquake. J. Reilly Lewis was ecstatic. With a longish story to be recounted later, I ended up eating Veal Kidneys. The venue is wonderful, the food not so much, at least on this occasion. They did nail the drink however.

And in another edition sometime, thanks to a reader, we can explore the technique required to “tarne a crab”, or “fract a chicken”..

Thank you all, and thank you Dorothy for being in and giving joy to our lives.. and she always was


Sunday, December 11, 2011


Last (Saturday) night at the Historic St. Mary’s City Madrigal Dinner, MFO and I celebrated the beginning of the season that was announced over 2000 years ago by a bright star in the heavens.  At the same time, a star that has been burning brightly for over 96 years was extinguished in Onalaska, Wisconsin.  We arrived home to learn that MFO’s Mom had expired peacefully in her chair at home, no doubt watching a replay of a decades old baseball game.  While we all knew that it would happen, when it does, it is still hard to accept.  She had been a rock for years, overcoming this and that, always coming back, she remained interested in her three kids, the grandkids, and great grandkids.   We’ll all reflect on a good life, well lived, and an example for us all..  Thank you for your presence.

Accordingly, our plans for the holidays are somewhat fluid.  Stand by..

Friday, December 9, 2011


When was the last time you bought a mattress (we’ll get to the real point of this in a bit)? In our case it would be measured in years. Unless you build a new house, add a room or something I don’t think you change mattresses routinely. Is it just me, or have you noticed the amount of commercials on TV, usually touting a “buy one, get two” approach or some idiot women screaming about discounts? I don’t get it..

So yesterday I was on a Feeder mission (based on a tip from a reader), and went into our “new” shopping center (like we need another, eh?) that contains Kohl’s, Dicks Sporting, and the (now open) Buffalo Wings and Beer establishment. Right now there are a lot of vacant store fronts

But, besides the big boys (and the Bison place) that are open, do you know what else has newly opened?

I don’t get it….. Anyway, the real subject of all this is the little sign in the window to the left of the bedding emporium:

Come to find out, although it isn’t a “chain” per se, there is another slice over in Callaway. It seems that besides mattress stores, there is a bottomless market for Pizza joints. Maybe liquor stores falls in that category as well. I am not sure why this is. Have a drink, eat a slice, and plop into bed?… Maybe Pepperoni’s is trying to fill the perceived void left by the shuttering of CiCi’s. And of course they supply that other nebulous American staple: “Subs”. We’ll see, oh and of course they are “Coming Soon”

As is another place across the lot from the sleep store

I am not entirely sure what this is telling me: Golden Chicken AND Japanese Grill (which, as noted, is “coming soon” - I wonder if you can print a sign/banner these days without that slogan). Readers will remember I am not especially “up” on Asian Cuisine.. Is there a genre of “Golden Chicken”? and what, pray tell, is a Japanese Grill?. One that is made in Japan? Of course the easy thought is another of those sit around the hot plate and watch things get chopped and knives flipped. We’ll see. So, that is four, count ‘em, four new places that are “Coming Soon” within maybe a half mile of each other. I don’t get it.

Holiday Cheer

And yesterday I did the season’s first “open house” crawl. As most folks around here know, around the holidays, a lot of the larger contractor outfits host annual “open houses” for customers, friends, employees and the like. Food is put out in a conference room, some sort of liquid refreshment is provided, and people gather, graze, and gab. This tradition has been going on a long time, and there are legendary stories about the “old days”. But now, there are no back rooms, and it’s just kind of a fun time. As I probably mention every year, besides the attraction of the above, the Feeder is interested in finding little culinary gems among the trays of catered crab balls, stuffed ham, crab dip, cheese trays, and so forth. It used to be that the employees supplied most of the food, but as business grows and attendance increases, a reliance on caterers has become more common.

My first stop was at SAIC (previously Eagan-McCallister) in their new digs out by restaurant row. I wanted to look inside plus see what they had to offer. It is a pretty normal functional engineering, base supporting, customer oriented building. A lobby with (normally) a receptionist, and halls branching off that. Just to the right of the lobby is the main conference room, and this is where the “stuff’ was. Tables along the walls, a center island which contained the beverages (wines and beers, including good old Fat Tire). On one side was six crock pots, five of which were devoted to meatballs of some variety, and the other the time honored “weenies in BBQ” sauce. I sampled all, and well, they were kind of ordinary. No particular spice, just hamburger balls in sauce. Most were bland. Other items were catered (I THINK Bailey's) chicken bits, the stuffed ham (always pretty good), some dip, and crab balls. The only things I could believe were homemade (besides the meatballs) were on the dessert buffet where I think home cooked cookies and brownies could be found.

I was more hopeful at the second stop, Wyle, as there was more variety with such items as fried chicken, spare ribs, sliced beef, and some interesting little crab Rangoon (I think) purses. Most were in those aluminum “tubs” but some were plated. I was ready to give them the nod until I looked at the little tongs with the crab thingies. It read: Quality Street. Oh, well. I should hasten to add here, that there is nothing wrong with that, local caterers do a good job, the food is good, and I understand why they are used. It’s just that with the holidays, finding something actually homemade where somebody actually took time to think, assemble, and cook something to share is more heartwarming than the tubs of stuff… I will say the wines at Wyle took first place.

Not sure if I will find out/get to others, but keep your eyes and ears open.  'tis the season were pretty often you are


ps, i'm overwhelmed with stuff to do this weekend...but in selfish interest of early Maryland History, you might want to consider (yes, short notice)


Student Exhibit Opening & Lecture; Historic St. Mary’s City Visitor Center December 9, 5-7 p.m;  The evening will open with a lecture by HSMC chief archaeologist Timothy Riordan at 5:30 p.m.  Dr. Riordan, author of a book about the War’s long reach to St. Mary’s called The Plundering Time, will set context for the exhibit.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Comings and ....... Comings

While the research on frying Crassostrea Virginica proceeds, a little more local news and buzz..

Local readers (and those from afar who used to be here) will remember there is a “shopping center” fairly close to the digs called San Souci:

It’s getting to be kind of dated now, probably originating in the 80’s (some reader will correct me) and so has the kind of “strip” layout. In recent years for some reason it has gravitated toward a little restaurant center. I think I counted around a dozen eating places there, mostly independents with only Taco Bell, McDonalds (across the street) and CiCi’s representing a “chain”. Since that time, McDonalds and CiCi’s have closed. For some reason, a lot of the places are “international” in nature, a Japanese Steak House (chop and fling shrimp at you), Indian food, Mexican, and more than one Asian themed place.

In the face of all that, it still astounds me that people still want to open more restaurants in the general area. I think I mentioned that McDonalds old space is slowly getting morphed into a Golden Corral, now sporting a new roof covering the old red McDonalds one.

I guess they will shoot for a market slightly under the growing presence of “Texas” steak places up the road..

But today I saw something that really surprised me. In the little storefront that contains the world’s oldest bowling alley, a NAPA parts store, and the Hertz rent-a-racer facility I saw the following in front of the old (now renovated) “Mark’s” electronics store.

and the sign said (beneath St. Mary's County's favorite phrase):

Why anybody would open yet another Chinese Place (apparently hedged with Sushi and American) right across the road from more amazes me. Somebody’s life savings or a huge loan going into the business that is number one in failing, restaurants. Don’t know much about it yet, will watch.

And speaking of chains, there was a little article in one of the restaurant news services about our friend Olive Garden (part of the Darden empire). The headline was: “Darden Restaurants Inc. said Tuesday its earnings for the second quarter would be lower than previously forecast, partly due to persistent sales trouble at its Italian casual-dining Olive Garden brand”. Awww, too bad. “when you’re here, you’re family and please leave a donation by the door”.

Chili Chatter

Today I spent some time at my old haunt on the base, judging the annual Chili Cook Off held this year to raise funds for cancer treatments for the daughter of one of the teammates. As alert readers will know I continually mention that there are categories of food that are so highly subjective that stupid terms like “best” don’t apply, and maybe “favorite” might be better. For instance although a “winner” was named (Pot Number 2) if you had three different judges, you might get a totally different lineup. So if any contestants happen to stumble across this, thanks for participating, keep making your stuff. There was only one brave soul who entered a white chicken chili. It “did well”. FWIW, shat I kind of look for in chili is: Do you taste chili peppers? Is there a nice mix of ingredients that’s pleasing to the eye (one entry had white and red beans)? Is the consistency appropriate (not just hamburger floating in a brothy fluid)? As far as taste, I personally, just me, a single point, prefer a less spicy concoction that lets the ingredients speak for themselves and not get burned out with heat. After the rest of the people came in with donations for a bowl or two, or three, or… I did notice brows being mopped. Was so nice to see some of my old (well, you know what I mean) colleagues, it’s what I miss most..

One short Traffic Rant

Now that the chili has me slightly hot under the collar, I can’t help but get this off my chest. There has been several “letters to the editors” featured in our local newspaper in response to the reports of more red light cameras being installed. Once again, the populace rises in arms at the intrusion of “government” in their personal lives. “I know they give reasons of safety, but all they want to do is raise money!” Some cite statistics that (allegedly) show rear end collisions skyrocket with the installation of the lights, but mostly they’re ticked about the money... I got news for you pal, you can easily thwart their evil intentions and actually cost them money if you just stop for the damn light. It is not your American right to be able to run red lights if you don’t think you will be held accountable or nobody's looking.

Okay, stuff to do, like read recipes for frying the little bivalves.. Somebody has to do it..

And when we do, we’ll be most certainly


Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Wrap

In response to a long time reader’s comment that the Feeder was a “slacker” lately, we’ll pass along a few notes from the weekend..

Food First (of course)

We had a couple of dining out experiences (not the military version – a whole other story) over the weekend. Friday night after doing the normal “first Friday” things, we met some friends at Café Des Artistes in Leonardtown. Chef Loic (who was of course on premises) continues to put out reliable fare with a French slant (always a sauce). MFO chose her favorite hearts of palm salad, and was surprised that the little log house presentation has given way to slices. Too bad, that was unique. Another salad (“house”), and a mushroom soup (although I don’t think that was on the menu which said Cabbage, Potato, and Bacon and their standard French Onion. I especially enjoyed my soup, woodsy mushrooms, a great dish for this time of year. Entrees included a prime rib and veal roast from the standard menu and a seafood special (which I didn’t write down) which I think was Hawaiian “Au”, described by the Chef as a meaty fish. The fish was quite good with a nice sauce which contained Lobster as I recall. I have noticed that his fish/seafood offerings on the special (pink) menu page usually are unique. And he cooks them well. Keep your eye open… Hopefully because it was First Friday, I think everybody in the place was DFD, which may have had something to do with the average age…

Our second experience was a return to the Dry Dock to join a group for the annual viewing of the “boat parade”. Not only do you get good food and drink, but also a great place to watch the passing boats. We arrived about six, and had drinks in hand when the parade passed us. There were about seven boats, which some remembered as fewer than years past, but I must say that all of them were nicely decorated. Most were fairly large, and covered in lights with a theme, like sea dragons, or santa sleigh motifs. Not just a tree put on the deck. It’s a nice tradition, another little perk of Southern Maryland. I had a tuna special, nicely seared with the little reduction in the “blackened” preparation I requested from the kitchen. Funny thing about fresh tuna, some like it rare, some pink, some more so. I was pleased to see the kitchen produced everyone’s plates as requested. Another usually reliable place.

And food finally, spurred on by those fried oysters I had there last week, I have decided to strike out on my own and explore making them at home. Of course MFO recoils at the thought of her lovely cooktop and counters covered in oil, and that is a problem. I have often considered one of those little home deep fat cookers for chicken, fish, donuts, oysters, and the like, but the logistics (and somewhat the cost) have held me back. Got to store the thing, there’s the oil to deal with, and really how often are you going to trot the thing out. Great when you need it, but the other 90% of the time, it takes up space. So maybe I’m thinking of using a Dutch oven with high sides. And don’t even mention those “spatter screens”. For the most part all they do is create just one more grease covered item to deal with.

And then of course, there is the preparation. There are hundreds of batters/coatings out there, corn meal, flour, double egg dipping, panko, cracker crumbs, all the “best” in somebody’s estimation. I think the challenge is how to get a nice exterior, both color and texture, and still keep the oyster from becoming a solid, chewy mass. I’ll begin research and let you know how it goes. Any back channel thoughts or suggestions welcome.

To Did

We spent the middle part of the day yesterday doing the annual HealthShare Holiday Home Tour. Another nice little attraction that happens yearly. It’s a great chance to see homes that (at least for us) would not be accessible, and a chance to see some of the older properties around. And, in the process you contribute to a great cause. Our first stop was the “Bell” farm complex, located near Leonardtown. A great family history there along with some nice paintings by a famous local artist. We went on to see some more contemporary and restored houses, seven in all. Of course you see a lot of your friends along the way, including the one who accused the feeder of “slackedness”. Humphhh….

After that, we came home, MFO finished decorating the Christmas Tree, we strung some more lights and of course watched some of the football games. More dancing, pointing, strutting, and exhibitions. And today we learn that a couple of selfless teammates from the local team have been (or shortly will be) suspended for failing a drug test for the SECOND time. Real team players there..

Just Nice

With the moderate temperatures lately, fog has been forming over and around the river in the mornings which provides some lovely views for us.

Plus this morning that interaction between tide and current produced those “slick” patterns in the water..


Okay, have a nice day and this evening, even though it's monday you can
And thank you BCS committee for putting the stinking Wolverines in a "better" bowl than the Spartans who, as I recall, beat that team during the season..   And will somebody remind me how the Hokies deserve that high of a seeding?   what was the score of the Clemson game again??

Friday, December 2, 2011


You feel like a blog, sometimes you don’t. Today I don’t.... This in spite of the fact there are a million things you could do this weekend (first Friday in Leonardtown, Christmas walk on the Solomons, Healthshare House Tour, Hospice Festival of Trees, Family Plantation Christmas at Sotterley, Jazz Concert at SMCM). Pick something. We’re doing numbers one, two, and three.

Spent a good portion of yesterday wrestling with the annual struggle to put the outdoors lights in the tree. Not original with me, but how do the strings of lights you so carefully put in the box last year result in a pile of spaghetti this year. Want one string? Sorry, you get them all. Managed to get two strings up yesterday and will shortly go out again for the remainder. At least it isn’t in a driving snowstorm.

Last night I journeyed down to St. Mary’s College to hear that chamber music concert with Brian Ganz, Jose Cueto, and Suzanne Orban. Lately I’ve been to a lot of Brian’s events with solo piano, so it was nice to hear some other instruments. The first selection was just Suzanne on the cello and Brian playing a sonata piece by Samuel Barber. Mr. Barber is a relatively modern composer (1910 – 1981) and when the music first started, I thought “Uh Oh” because it had that dissonance that I associate with “modern music”, but it turned out to be an intriguing piece. It sort of alternated between that kind of passage with very sweet and delicate phrases (my musical friends are probably tearing their hair out at my descriptions). It was also interesting to hear the phrases go back and forth between piano and cello. The second (and last) selection was Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3, which added Jose on the violin. Before they began, Brian shared a little story that Beethoven wrote the piece in his early 20’s one of his first. He was under the tutelage of Franz Joesph Haydn, and “papa Haydn” advised Ludwig to not have it performed because it was “too wild” for current tastes.. Upon hearing it, “too wild” didn’t exactly come to mind. It had its “crashy” parts, but also wonderful runs, and interplay between the three instruments. Anyway, it was an enjoyable evening, and for once there was quite a large audience, not only us “regulars” but a whole lot of students. Maybe better than being on a cold cruise ship (did I say that??)

Okay, enough. Oh we did have a pleasant dinner at the Dry Dock on Wednesday, I had a very nice plate of fried oysters. Just fine.  After doing First Friday stuff tonight, we're dining at Cafe Des Artistes...

Have a nice weekend however you choose to use it.. and don’t forget to

DFW(hatever you do!)

PS:  today's Weekend section of the Enterprise has a nice write up on St. Maries Musica, and a pretty good description of the Westlawn Inn, which is on my "to do" list.   Sometime...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OT: Are you ready for some....


(warning, another Sports rant to follow, foodies may scroll down to “back to food”).

Well I am not so much (ready) anymore. It’s getting so that I don’t enjoy watching the “pro’s” play. I watched a few games over the weekend, and found myself looking for college sports or punching the mute button. I thought football was a team sport. It appears that in the so-called “professional” version, it is only a “collection of individuals wearing the same uniform" sport. They don’t care much about the score, standings, or anything relating to “the team”, it’s all about them. In one game (Buffalo/Jets) between two struggling teams, a Bill’s player caught a pass for a touchdown, and proceeded to pretend to shoot himself (a la Plaxico Burriss) and fall to the ground. Real cute. Well, that resulted in having to kickoff from the 20, and it pretty much allowed the Jets being able to score. And then toward the end of the game the same player dropped a wide open pass. Perhaps he should focus on football fundamentals rather than his dancing prowess.

Did you see the awful behavior of both sides in the Skins/Seahawks game of two inept teams?. Taunt, dance, taunt, posture, in your face. Maybe Pete Carroll’s flamboyant style carries over to the field. His wonderful collection of players are 4 and 7. And, last night Brandon Jacobs of the Giants, who were clearly getting their doors removed, rumbled into the end zone to cut the score to 21 to 10. One would have thought that he had just won the super bowl. Or, how about that defensive back who finally makes some sort of play and proceeds to point and strut after watching the other team go by him repeatedly. Or maybe that running back who makes a first down, and postures and points. Oh, and after your first catch in the game, let’s drop the ball in the face of the back that has repeatedly covered you like a blanket. Ahead? Behind? I don’t know, just look at ME!

What pushed me to the brink last night during the Giants/Saints game was not only the foolish stuff going on in the field of play, it extended to the announcer’s booth. I will admit that the Saints were making the Giants defense look like a Pop Warner team, but “ color man” Jon Gruden did everything but put on a skirt and join the cheerleaders on the sideline. Every pass by Brees was a thing of art, amazing talent, unbelievable player, and every play by the Giants was stupid, uninformed, a bad decision, or lack of trying. C’mon Jon, you’re supposed to be impartial. Not.

I could go on (and sort of did, sorry) and on. Game after game. No responsibility for how your actions affect the team (Hey! Ndamukong Suh! You listening?) all that counts is just your own stupid ego and how big is next year’s contract. Tiresome.

Okay that’s out of my system for the time being..

Back to Food

I’ve been a little lax in keeping up with the local (greater Pax River) dining scene due to little things like travel to Santa Fe, the Inn at Little Washington, torching a prime rib, etc.

Anyway, here are a few tidbits, some older than others. It appears that now some chains are eating others… CiCi’s has closed in San Souci; Damon’s is still dark; as is Lone Star; on the other hand, Buffalo Wings and Beer is now serving same just down the road from San Souci. I see there is construction activity at the “old” McDonalds location across from San Souci which I guess means Golden Corral is on the way. I suppose plans are proceeding for the Texas LongHorn and Cracker Barrel. More chains…

On the “Indie” side, I know of no recent closings. On the opening side of the ledger, there is a new “chocolate shop” on Fenwick Street in Leonardtown, and I guess not really new is the new occupant of the Willows, of which I have heard mixed reports.

And as we approach winter, some of the independents will go on “winter hours” meaning only open on weekends at maximum, and sometimes altogether. I suppose that sort of drives people to more chains, and build habits.

And in winter, the type of dress will change when you


ROT (Really Off Topic) I just returned from another Brian Ganz piano talk. Chopin, Ravel, and Debussy. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And I learned about a “13th” chord. This Thursday night is a concert at 8 presenting Chamber Music with Brian, Violinist Jose Cueto, and cellist Suzanne Orban. They will play Barber and Beethoven..St. Mary’s Hall. No charge. Nothing to do, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hey Turkey....Where's the Beef?

Well, Thanksgiving is over. For better or worse, whatever you cooked, ate, drank, and enjoyed is done for another year. Well, maybe not totally over if there are those great leftovers to snack on. We could have another session on things to do with those, but I’m full…

Anyway, as readers will recall, I had my reservations on hoopla with a fowl, so instead I went for the beef. In doing the research for Thanksgiving, a recipe in the latest Cook’s Illustrated (the one suggesting boiling your turkey) caught my eye:

It caught my eye for a couple of reasons, first because of the title – not only the dreaded “best” word, but indeed the “THE best”. One and only… Wow… that’s a pretty bold statement. THE best of all time!. The other reason that I liked it was that it offered a non-poultry option, something I had been looking for. And the clincher was it followed the “low and slow” technique, something I’ve never tried. So what the heck, with company coming, let’s try something you’ve never done before! . The lead-in article said that it was based on a recipe by British chef Hester Blumenthal who prepares his steaks from a prime rib cut by searing it with a torch, then roasting it in a 120 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 120 degrees and hold it there for 18 hours!  He then cuts and sears for a steak...

The theory is that the low heat produces an incredibly flavorful, moist and perfectly cooked roast, and there is talk about the low temperature and enzymes and so forth. The recipe in CI recognized that most home ovens won’t go below 200 degrees, but the clever guys under Chris Kimball devised a method to let us home schlubs get the same result. Sear it (in a pan), put it in the 200 degree oven and when the internal temp hits 110 turn off the oven and leave the roast in there for an hour, then pull it and let it set. Claims that this gets the roast to rare (~120 degrees).

Okay, lets rock! So, I obtained a three rib (~7 Lb.) roast on Monday, then Tuesday rubbed it with Kosher salt,

And put it in the fridge to “dry age” until Thursday morning when it had a nice dry exterior.

That brought me to the point of browning/searing it before putting it in the oven. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like that operation. Bringing a pan to high temp on the cooktop and then putting the item in there to sear is fine for the meat, but the counter top doesn’t fare too well. Usually results in coating it with grease and causing the lady of the house angst. So, I figured what the heck, let’s try the blowtorch technique. After a search of the basement (I KNOW it’s here someplace!) I finally found the torch, and verified it’s operation.

Somewhat concerned over brandishing an open flame in the kitchen (House Burns to the Ground in Bizarre Thanksgiving Accident!), so I decided to use the always helpful flat trunk top of the Flutter Mobile (right over the gas tank which didn’t enter the mind).

Held my breath and lit the torch and applied it to the meat.

It was surprisingly easy, and resulted in a nicely browned roast, and didn’t raise the interior temperature of the meat past the surface..

With the oven set up on “pure convection” and proper temperature

In it went!

I tried to invade the oven as little as possible for my trusty instant read thermometer, and when I did I had MFO handle the door. Pop it open, pop it closed, to keep the temperature up.  I am considering getting one of those remote reading things so you can just leave it without opening the door, but then you only get the temp in one point.. Don’t like that..

So finally when I hedged my bet a little I turned off the oven when the average internal temperature was a little over 115. At this point, I didn’t want to release any of the heat in the oven, so left it for the hour. And finally removed it from the oven

And left it on the counter to firm. By this time the guests arrived and we enjoyed libations and a lovely cheese platter, spiced olives, dry sausage, and salted nuts. By the time we got around to slicing the roast it was rosy rare, moist and evenly cooked. MFO’s “first” was a Grits Soufflé which turned out beautifully (Bon Appétit recipe):

As with all soufflé’s it looked beautiful out of the oven, but had “fallen” by the time its portrait was taken. We combined our dishes with our guests and assembled a lovely groaning board.

So all together we touched all the bases. We had beef, turkey, two salads, two “dressings”, some lovely bread, mashed redskin potatoes, gravy (courtesy of the bird), and a “traditional” recipe from each group. Theirs was classic herbed bread “grandma’s dressing” which was great, and MFO contributed her time honored “green 7-Up salad”. Desserts were either a pumpkin or apple pie, although most people eliminated the “or” in favor of “and”.

Wines included a Pommery NV Champagne, a 2010 unoaked Chamisal Chardonnay and an ’03 Barossa Valley Syrah, “the Standish” that was unearthed from the cellar at the digs. All were just fine, and in fact they were DWTHYL qualified.

I will definitely try the rib again, maybe at new years, but I will try to let it go just a bit longer as I would have preferred it just a “leeeeeetle” less rare. It has been just great cold however.

And again, the food was secondary (sort of, kind of) to the joy of sharing time with good friends. And we did raise our glasses to friends and family no longer present. Although it was not that Grand Cru…

As I said, I hope your experience was as enjoyable as ours. And now, life returns to whatever “normal” means to you..  but of course we all know what it means to