Monday, January 31, 2011

Media and Messages....

Foodies, take a seat, no content for you today. Got one in the works, but will take a bit more work before going public..

Sometimes it takes the feeder a while to figure out what probably comes intuitively to most people.....

So there I was lying on the couch yesterday, a normal Sunday afternoon activity, watching (in this case) the final round of the Torrey Pines golf tournament, hoping (in vain) that Mickelson would pull it off. I believe the people in contention were around thirteen strokes under par, and they were having a pretty good battle for the lead. But, instead of showing me the youngster Vegas trying that pesky twenty foot par putt, they cut to a shot of Tiger Woods a few holes ahead, making a routine wedge shot to the green trying to get close enough for a birdie to get back to TWO under. Now, anybody with even a rudimentary understanding of golf knows that a player with only a few holes to play and
eleven strokes off the lead is not going to win anything. In fact, there were probably ten or so golfers in better position than he was, but did we see them? No sir! “Here’s Tiger 90 yards out, addressing the ball…Uh oh, looks like it’s going left! that will be a tough putt…” On and on. Then back to contenders with “This just a bit ago….”.

As this continued I got more and more upset, and started cussing out Tiger, rooting for him to miss and so forth. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks! (or maybe a bag of golf balls in this case). It ISN’T Tiger I hate so much, it's the damn (for want of a better term)MEDIA! He doesn’t ask to be covered on hole 16 with no chance of winning, it’s the TV folk that figure I have to watch it. Actually, I even felt a little bit of sympathy for Tiger, his game was bad, his triumphal return (media again) to Torrey Pines which he has destroyed in the past in shambles, missing putts he would routinely make, you could see the pain and embarrassment on his face. Some might argue he gets what he deserves, but he was not having a good time. But my epiphany was that I was transferring my animosity to the person being covered rather than to the persons doing the covering! THEY decided what I should see, not the subject!

And then, I started to thinking about other things in that category. Readers of this rag will remember I have gone off on Notre Dame, Da Duuukies (baaaaaby), etc. In reality the teams and players are most likely pretty nice people (well, except maybe that twerpy little point guard (Steve Wojciechowski) for Duke years ago), it’s just that the press/media/networks put these people on a pedestal and worship them and figure I will also. I am getting so I hit the mute button if Vitale is covering a Duke or ACC game, he’s just a publicist for them. Team OK, Vitale not.

And I must admit that during the aftermath of the horrible shootings in Arizona a few weeks back I got more and more agitated at the almost hourly “updates” on the congresswoman when there was no real new information to be had. There were other tragic stories besides hers, with at least six other families whose lives were altered forever. Did we hear much about them? Nope. Just about her. Obviously, I along with the whole Nation, wish a complete recovery, but gosh, network people can’t we spread the coverage around a bit?

Okay, I’m done. I’ll try to be better in the future and keep a little more composure and perspective…or, maybe not..

Sports fans, even you have to


Got your super bowl menu in your head? Remember if it's snack food it has to be orange

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Much Ado about not much

There’s something wrong with me…not news I suppose. Anyway, when we get into those “headed this way” things with storms, I just sort of go into a shell and the muses get shoved out by the “what if?”; “how will I?”; “where’s the?” demons. So doing the blog sort of takes a back seat and right after I (mildly) rant about words, I don’t have many. After the mental torture proved to be pretty much futile, we can begin to think of food things and events. just a couple of things...

I see that the “Texas Roadhouse” folks have applied for their liquor license. Maybe they’ll nose out the Cracker Barrel as our next opportunity to eat pre-fabricated, packaged, and frozen foods. Served badly.

A little bright spot arrived via the mail box this week in the form of new issues of Garden and Gun, and also The Art of Eating. I haven’t had much time to digest them yet, G&G features an issue devoted to Bluegrass Music “The New Sound of the South – A hundred years after the birth of Bill Monroe, Americans are rediscovering - and reinventing – the soulful sound of bluegrass”. Will make interesting reading. But there is also the foodie stuff like an article on Chicken Pot Pie (oh, my, Chicken Potpie) taken to a new level.. The cover on the AOE proclaims in block letters “Really Good Goat Cheese”, the lead article about the Cheeses of Soyoung Scanlan, with a following article on making your own fresh cheese. There’s an interesting article on Madeira wine .. did you know it can be aged for up to 50 years? So much to little time.

whoops! time to go


Monday, January 24, 2011

Words to .... dine by...

close to a rant...

In the course of composing this thing over the last decade (yikes!), I deal with words a lot and so develop an eye (not the appropriate analogy I guess – maybe ear) to their use and misuse. In fact, I was (and still am) active in a little group that used to pass around various malaprops, errors in punctuation, and twists on language observed in various reports and e-mails: “He went to emergency room Tuesday with Hi fever and flew like symptoms." We sort of used the phrase Every Day Is An English Lesson. Other members of the group are far more knowledgeable in grammar and proper English than I are. In fact, I was probably subject to a few myself.

At any rate, with no new places to visit or talk about, we’ll take a bit of time to reflect on a couple of subjects related to food that really bug me..People in the food service industry should know the language of their profession.

The first revolves around the more and more common practice of restaurants to offer complete three (or more) course meals for a single price. You get to select one choice from each of say, three appetizers, a couple of main courses, and some desserts. Since the price is the same for whatever you select, the meal’s price is “fixed”. The French call this a Prix Fixe (pronounced: “pree feks”) menu, translated of course as “fixed price”. How many times have you seen twists on this such as pre-fixed, pre-fix, price fixed, Prixe Fixed, and other odd permutations? If they offer it, it should be presented correctly. Keep your educated eye open for that one.

And, I think maybe I’ve harped on this before, but apparently people don’t listen. If you are in the food service business and own, operate, or manage a restaurant, you are a “restaurateur”. Again, the main language of food is often rooted in French (a bit of a generalization, but mostly true). Well, people are hell bound to put an “N” in that word. You commonly see it as “restauraNteur”. Probably thinking they’re saying a “restauranter”. Learn the language!

And, while I’m speaking of words, here is a (partial) list words (and phrases) that the Feeder believes should not be heard in any restaurant (again, probably not new):

Guys (even with a table of all males)
Not a Problem!
Great Choice!
Is everything okay?
Is everything delicious?
Taking Care of you…
…Working on That?
I (server) really like…
My (server) favorite wine/dish….is ..
I’ll take that whenever you’re ready… no hurry

A little magazine buzz….

You remember that Conde Nast, the mega publisher, dumped Gourmet Magazine allegedly because of loss of ad monies, etc., but kept the lower level Bon Appétit. Well, I got my latest issue (Jan. 2011) and noticed in the letter from the editor page that Barbara Fairchild noted that this issue (her 10th as editor) would be her last. She goes on to say that the magazine was relocating from LA to NYC, and she is “stepping down”. Then words about not retiring yadda yadda, and a new editor and staff will be “taking over”. Sweet words, but the old antennae went up.. Then, today I saw an article in the New York Times entitled “An Irreverent Campaign From Bon Appétit”, in which a bit more light is shed on the situation. Seems like phrases such as “new direction”, “different focus” are being used. A couple of quotes:

Not "Stepping Down?"

“…the arrival at Bon Appétit of a new editor in chief, Adam Rapoport; the first issue under his aegis is planned for May. Condé Nast also recently assigned Bon Appétit a new vice president and publisher, Pamela Drucker Mann, who is considered an up-and-coming executive at the company. Those shifts came after a sluggish performance by Bon Appétit since Gourmet, its sibling food magazine at Condé Nast, was closed in late 2009”.

“(it) …will appeal to …. “the forgotten foodie,” someone who believes “the meal is more than the food; it’s about fun, it’s about friends and family, it’s about your life”.

Gag…and finally:

“The No. 1 goal is to pump up those ad pages,”

Which probably says it all…


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Up and Down....

Saturday provided interesting contrast between “up town” and “down country” food. Thursday night as noted we dined at McCormick and Schmick’s following our tour, and then MFO and I attended the annual Friends Of the Library Brunch held in one of our local churches. Most communities have “church” dinners and such where real people serve real food as opposed to a restaurant setting where a professional kitchen is at your disposal to prepare what you select from a large menu of many choices. That’s fine, but so is this. At the brunch, you get what they make, and you won’t see a Sysco truck in the parking lot either.

Hopefully, you all know I love and seek the “just right” experience, which is harmony in all things. What could be more “right” than a brunch in a church hall, served by members of the church. They’re not paid, they volunteer their time, no tip to worry about, no “Hi I’m..” no “are ya still workin’ on that?”. Just bring the food and clear the dishes. Water filled, coffee refreshed, nice. Just right.

So we checked in, made one of those little sticky name tags that never stay attached, and entered the “hall”. It’s a rather smallish place with 10 tables set closely enough that you had to suck it in to get around. They were set with (cloth!) wrapped tools, and a little plastic cup of fruit, and coffee and juice were available on side tables. Just right.

Despite the little name tags which mostly fall off, most everybody knew everybody else anyway, as the Library community is a pretty tightly knit bunch. After the requisite milling around time we eventually sat down at the tables. There was some speechifyin’, introductions of various board members, luminaries, politicians, etc., and then we were ready to eat. At this point the kitchen informed us that indeed we were NOT ready to eat, so that gave our local director of libraries a chance to remind us (and those politicians) of the importance of libraries in our community.

A change from previous years was the food wasn’t put out on a buffet but plated in the kitchen and distributed by the “church ladies” by bringing out plates on little carts that had to navigate around the tables some, which was no easy task, but eventually (eventually) everybody was served. If you have noticed, a lot of “up town” breakfasts feature “low fat” this and that, yogurt, crunchy little oats and twigs, “lite” butter for your toasted English muffin, and so forth. Well, guess what? Down Country doesn’t do that..

Clockwise from ten o’clock we have “French toast”, grilled little slices of baguette, a slice of Quiche with real eggs (no beaters!) and ham and cheese. Then we move on to the chicken noodle casserole (with real chicken mind you), broccoli and cream sauce with bread crumbs. Oh, there’s a couple of sausage patties. Hey! What’s that little square? Down County folk will know it’s Scrapple! Ever seen that on the Up Town Buffet? Just right. We could do a whole post on Scrapple, but for another time. If you don’t know it’s a “mush” created from pork (everything but the oink) by boiling with cornmeal and flour, formed into a loaf, then sliced and fried. I’ve been told there are just a few places in the county where you can order it: Linda’s, Abell’s, and Quades are apparently the only options. Plus the church ladies..

Although I’ve had it before and been less than impressed, this was pretty good. A little blander than the sausage, but still a unique taste. Feel those arteries closing? Boy everything tasted good.

And if that weren’t enough, there was a table full of “sweets” for those with enough room after the hearty fare...

After the meal we were treated to a little program by David Brown of Sotterley who has authored a book about the plantation and it’s people. Very informative.

But for me, the fascination was with the food. Prepared honestly by real people and tasted like it.

So, “up town” restaurants have their places, but so do little brunches like this. Not that there’s a competition, just two different experiences. One might require a little driving, the other a little looking around.

Just another example of nothing to do “down county”.

Thursday called for


While Saturday we were


Friday, January 21, 2011

Portrait of a good time...

MFO and I joined a group of friends yesterday for an excursion “up the road” for a tour of the National Portrait Gallery, with dinner to follow. There were ten of us, so a little van was arranged for the transportation of the group. It was sort of like one of the STS busses you see around here with a notable difference. The inside was comfortably decorated with plush seating, clever lighting, and well equipped to handle beverages. Which, we had. There is SUCH a difference between driving oneself and just being a passenger insulated from the traffic and DC driving idiots. Just lean back enjoy good snacks, a little glass of something in your hand and good conversation.

So the transit seemed to whisk by, and after a little the requisite flailing around in DC due to some construction and so forth we were discharged right in front of the Gallery. As fate would have it, we arrived at the same time as our “tour guide”, who led us inside. Local (and even national) readers will remember that Dr. Martin “Marty” Sullivan who used to be director of Historic St. Mary’s City was given the opportunity to become director of the Portrait Gallery which he did. So we spent a wonderful hour and a half going into various galleries, hearing stories about the paintings, what they told about the subject, and seeing little details one (me at least) would never see on the canvas without some help. Marty has an astonishing knowledge of “his” paintings, their history, the artists, the subject and the context in which they were depicted, it’s just amazing. He spoke about the (I hope this is correct) “intersection of biography and portraiture”. We saw many famous paintings of George Washington, Katherine Hepburn, Winston Churchill, and so on, but two, no wait, three, of the paintings that I thought were outstanding was one of Tom Wolfe in elegant garb, another of the legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher (“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures”), and one you should really see of Eunice Shriver commemorating the founding of Special Olympics. If you look at that and have a dry eye, you aren’t human. It’s an amazing piece of art.

We also saw the exhibit that sponsored so much brouhaha lately called “Hide/Seek”. The morals cops were quelled by removing a video that got people all riled up. It is an interesting exhibit. When you think of “National Portrait Gallery” you kind of automatically think of graying photos of old white men. While I have to admit there are some of those, there is so much more to see that I highly recommend a visit. What treasures lie just 80 or so miles up the road. It’s a shame we don’t do it more often.

After relaxing a bit, the group went to dinner. Due to the size of the party (now 13) reservations were obtained for us at nearby McCormick and Schmick’s. As you probably know they are a “chain” kind of in the sense that Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris could be called a chain. And, in fact, you might think that M&S is a seafood version of the “steak house”, without the eye-popping prices. Décor is heavy wood, muted lights, banquettes, tables in cloths (and those damn paper squares) with crystal and silver.

Now, because there may be some (believe it or not) new readers that were part of the party last night, I will include my standard disclaimer speech that when I look at a restaurant and it’s food, I desperately try to separate my observations and feelings from the enjoyment of being with friends sharing food. And, when I take notes, it is to help the mushy brain with points to remember, NOT, as I was (humorously) accused last night, to make note of fellow diner’s choices and behaviors. Obviously we had a wonderful time, talked about the food, the tour, and other pertinent topics.

Our table of 13 was handled by a single server who also had other tables to care for. He was bright enough, did a bit of hustling the chef’s special (which was “really good”) but generally did an okay job. He explained about the menu some which was a ponderous large white card, and also about “restaurant week” specials, and said “I’ll be back with water of course”. The regular menu was (duhhh) heavily weighted toward fish and shellfish, but also contained a smallish section of steaks, chops, and fowl (a whole Cornish hen). And like it’s big brother steak houses, there is a section for “sides”, with the requisite mashed potatoes, spinach, mushroom sauté, Mac and Cheese, etc.. Most were 3 – 5 dollars, with the entrees low to mid twenties, although if you wanted to show off, there was the mixed seafood grill (including half a lobster) for $38.95, or on the carnivore side was a Cowboy Steak (with a “cowboy Chili rub”) for $37.95. We were also given a little sub menu card that had the restaurant week selections on it, a three course meal for $35.11 (they always have the cents equal the year) with choices of a starter, a main course, and a dessert. Given the prices on the regular menu, not a bad deal if you wanted a complete meal. Some of the choices on the special menu were not on the main menu.

About this time our server returned and started taking drink orders. The backside of the large menu contains the wine list, and it’s a pretty good one, mostly listed by varietal although there are sections dubbed “Crisp, Refreshing Whites”, and “Spicy, Earthy, Sexy Reds”. I’m not sure what landed what in those bins, I usually don’t think of Viogner as “crisp” although I can understand why Shiraz, Syrah, and Zin would belong there. And no doubt any wine called Ménage a Trois fits the later category. Wonder if the folks that didn’t like the exhibit at the Portrait Gallery know that.. My goodness, what are these people thinking!! A little twist is that with wines by the glass you can choose from a 5 or 8 oz. portion. 5 ounces generally around 8 dollars, the bigger portion in the teens. Another feature was a little icon next to some wines indicating they had received a 90 point or higher rating from the Wine Spectator, although good tap water will get at least an 87 from them. Anyway, when taking the drink orders, our server’s standard statement was “and what are you drinking today?”, which is okay for the first person, but when you’re the sixth person you kind of figure it out. He worked his way around the table figuring out who was drinking what today. I had a Sterling Chardonnay. He disappeared for a while (a fairly common occurance), to return for the food order, but I don’t recall a “what are we eating today?”. I took the “week” menu of fried green tomatoes, prosciutto wrapped scallops, and a chocolate espresso crème brulee. MFO selected a salad with “spun beets”, a top sirloin with brandy sauce, and a baked Alaska. Some people did the “week” thing, others split appetizers and soups, some from the main menu. Oh, I forgot to mention that he said they were out of salmon. Excuse me?

Drinks began to arrive after our food order went in at 7:38. The wines by the glass are served by pouring a little carafe into the wine glass. I can only assume that he knew which person ordered which wine as all the carafes looked the same. An order of hot tea was brought after he was reminded. At around 8:10 our appetizers began to appear and generally hit the table at the proper seat. My stuffed fried green tomatoes (yes, I know it is January)

were properly acidic, and the goat cheese was okay, but it wasn’t a clear winner. MFO’s salad was good, and spun beets turn out to be strands of red and yellow beets which provided a nice visual. Entrees began coming out around 8:30 again placed correctly. Mine consisted of three scallops enrobed in the prosciutto, placed (at 2, 6, and 10) around a mound of risotto. The scallops were nicely cooked, but the darn prosciutto tended to fall off when touched, but not a bad dish. The rice was a bit firmer than I prefer but did retain some crunch. Other people were satisfied with what they had. A second glass of chardonnay ordered shortly after the food order, arrived as I was finishing the last of the scallops. MFO’s steak was okay although a bit firm.

Desserts arrived around 8:15 and MFO’s baked Alaska was nicely prepared

However, my crème Brule was an odd color (maybe because of the chocolate) kind of an unappetizing grayish and a bit soupy.

All in all, I would say it was a good to adequate meal, friendly service but table visits were infrequent, and the food took (IMHO) too long., maybe a result of the large party.. I have had a good lunch at the Inner Harbor edition of M&S.

But, I reiterate and emphasize we had a wonderful day, saw impressive things, had great conversations, and a delightful trip. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Oh, 13 of 13 travelers were


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trust Us....

Just a quick “lite Wednesday” posting today

Sometimes things hit you funny. As I was going into Starbuck’s this morning, I parked near a service van from a local HVAC company. I pretty much view that business as maybe one step above aluminum siding salesmen (although I have found a really good one). Anyway, I thought it was a comment on our society (or their business) that they felt called upon to put the following sign on the driver’s door:

All of our technicians are:

Drug Tested

Thoroughly Background Checked

Well, that’s nice, I feel much better now..

And Paul, Happy Birthday, I really like your paintings, I think you have a future…

anyway, since you're French, I won't have to remind you to


Monday, January 17, 2011

these, those, and .....trees

Well, another weekend has slipped away and we find ourselves on a Monday (by now almost slipped away), which due to the holiday, some will garner another day in which to do…whatever…Our weekend was spent sort of doing this and that, with occasional thoughts popping into the head so today will be just sort of a potpourri..


After our Thursday night experience at Jerry’s, Friday evening was sort of spent at home, watching an episode of Holmes that was recorded whilst at the barn meeting. It happened to be one that we had not seen (a dwindling category), and as usual was a tour de force for Jeremy Brett. What a master of the tilted eyebrow, the pursing of the lips, the pensive stare, playing off the foil of the straight man, Dr. Watson. Great stuff.

Saturday we got motivated by caffeine, and pretty much took down the remaining Christmas trappings, including stripping the tree back to its branches and lights. With a little help from our friends we bundled the tree and managed to get it back in the sling in the garage where it will rest for the summer. We denied that it looked like we had encased Santa. After that labor we fortified ourselves with some juice from the grape, and headed over to Leonardtown. We met another couple of friends at the Port of Leonardtown Winery for the “Chill out with Chili” thing featuring Chef Loic’s bison chili. It was pretty well attended, and the Chili (an American dish prepared by a French Chef) was very good. It had just enough bite to remind you of its ingredients, but didn’t overpower the beefy/bison. We did get a glass of wine, I believe it was called Captain’s Table. A red, fairly dry, but still a little foxy.. Hard to pair wine with Chili. It cries out for beer.

After a bowl or two of the red, we decided to adjourn to The Front Porch for more drinking and maybe more food. The bar wasn’t crowded, so we had a nice table (and also a view of the Packers dismantling the Falcons) and ordered up some drinks. Since there was a different Barkeep (at first) I levied the drink test and I’m glad to say it was passed with flying colors. However, after a bit I did see the normal guy (who I know can get it right) so not quite sure if it was a good test. Anyway, although the “new guy” is in charge, the menu hasn’t evolved much, so MFO had a pulled pork sandwich, I got the Rockfish Bites, and there was a shrimp cocktail along with a bowl of the spinach/artichoke dip. Other dishes at the table was a wasabi tuna over greens, and the chicken fingers from the “junior” menu. I’m not sure if reflective of the new regime, but the service was attentive and the food was good, although the dip is not a light dish. My only complaint was to note that when one of our party ordered a beer, the reply was “Did you want a glass with that?” I know there might be a reason why they don’t want to dirty a glass unnecessarily, but c’mon, just bring the glass without asking.

Sunday we went down to St. Mary’s College to see an exhibit in the Boyden Gallery (located in Montgomery Hall), called “facing fences”. Part of the exhibit is on loan from the Smithsonian, and other pieces were created by local agencies exploring “boundaries” and delineation of “spaces”. It is a nice exhibit, probably worth a visit if you’re a local Pax dweller. The rest of the day was spent supine on the couch observing the Bears reveal why the Seahawks are a sub “500” team, and the Patriots befuddled by the defensive coverage of the Jets, to the point of letting that idiot Ryan fulfill his prophecy. Now I’m a Steeler fan..

MFO made a really nice meatloaf (they’re different every time—recipes?...for amateurs!) which helped me get over the game..


The overwhelming response of a huge amount of readers (4) on the subject of “would you rather use an oven or microwave?” was unanimous. Oven every time! And, although few in numbers, all 4 respondants are discerning cooks…

Afterthought on Jerry’s

After being in the Front Porch on Saturday night, I had another thought on Jerry’s (kind of). As readers should know by this point, I am in favor of “harmony” for lack of a more descriptive term. While eating a burger and fries at St. James Tavern (for instance) is “just right”, somehow eating a similar dish in the grand old Italianate Sterling House (Front Porch) just seems sort of out of balance. The thought occurred to me that the reverse is somehow true at Jerry’s. Although MFO’s Scampi wasn’t a good example, a 35 dollar entrée should carry with it suitable presentation, surroundings, and decor. It was out of place. Call me silly and old fashioned.


Are nice. They help the air. In the summer they are green, are interesting to look at with gently nodding leaves, and provide homes for animals and birds. In fall, they have the colors of autumn and prepare us for a winter’s slumber. Even in winter, the bare limbs silhouetted against the gray sky are pleasing to look at. And in death, they can provide fuel for warmth. One of the reasons we like living here is that even in “the city”, there are still quite a few of them around. Scattered patches of woodlots do survive, and they help to break up the monotony of cookie cutter homes and box restaurants. Some are non-descript, but they still are living things and are nice to look at. Such a patch was across from the “5 Guys”, behind a local jewelry store. Kind of tucked between a couple of malls, they were just a nice little patch of woods. Here is a picture of that lot today:

The trees were a “necessary” sacrifice for a place where you can get a “number two with a coke”. sigh...


Friday, January 14, 2011

Hey Ben! Hey Tom! what happened to....


Well, he’s found a home in Prince Frederick at Jerry’s Place. I have been hearing good reports about the restaurant for over a year or so, and finally last night a chance fell in our lap to have dinner there. There was a meeting up there regarding tax breaks for restoration or renovation for historic barns and farms which MFO wanted to attend, so we combined that meeting with having dinner at Jerry’s Place. Our friend advised we wanted to be there early because it would fill up rather quickly so we were in our seats at 5:00 , and she was correct; tables were already occupied and filling up fast.

Jerry’s is located next to a Mr. Tire as you approach Prince Frederick from the south, and it requires a bit of maneuvering to turn around and then find a place in kind of a limited area dedicated to parking. But, MFO deftly maneuvered the MOMSTER into a spot and we headed for the door. I suppose it’s not by accident that once inside the restaurant, there is no clue you are in a strip mall next to a tire store. I don’t believe there are any outside windows, and the walls are nicely (newly?) decorated with murals composed of caricatures of what I assume is Jerry and his extended (?) family and friends. There are also some nice carvings around reminiscent of Kingfisher’s in Solomons. The bar has a sort of lanai affair covering it, which is also where the entrance to the kitchen is. Other than that, it is just a large single room.

Anyway, you are greeted at the door by either (what I assumed was) Jerry or a relative and shown to your table. To borrow a phrase from another place, it seemed that when you were there, you were family. Most of the guests at least knew Jerry, most of the wait staff, and each other. He continually prowled the room, bringing little bits here, joshing with that table, asking about things, etc. He is very visible. Dressing for Dinner was kind of spotty, as there were appropriately turned out folks like us, but there were also non-removed Steeler’s leather jackets and such. Just sort of ordinary people enjoying a night out.

All of the waitstaff were dressed in black, which I like and all were very friendly. Our server approached the table, asked about drinks and went and fetched them. Non-alcoholic drinks are served in a large glass with a carafe brought to the table for refills. When she returned, she said “may I tell you about the specials?” Nice touch. And then she did, of which there were many, both appetizers, and main courses, along with which fish selections were available. The menu only references “featured fish”. Hopefully because they change daily depending on the what the day's catch was. The menu is a two page laminated affair with appetizers, sandwiches, and soups on one side and entrees on the other. Prices for appetizers on the menu are twelve to fourteen bucks, sandwiches are all fourteen (but you get chips and a pickle). Crabcakes take first billing on the entrée side with regular, junior, senior and grand dad (for two) sizes, ranging from $18 to a respectable 42 for grand pop. A note at the bottom of the menu says the crab dishes are “all meat with absolutely no filler”. Be interesting to see how they are fabricated, but that and an order of them will have to wait for a summer visit. Other selections included fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, and chicken tenders. With those entrees you get to do the famous southern Maryland “Choose Two Sides” which are composed of “Mom’s” cole slaw, her stewed tomatoes or cinnamon flavored applesauce or fries. Prices were mostly just under twenty bucks, with some of the off menu specials $35. Quite a jump.

Our friend selected the fried shrimp with a (off menu) baked potato and slaw, MFO took an off the menu Shrimp Scampi (described as prepared with a cream sauce), fries and slaw, and I went with seasonal fried oysters (on a tip from a friend), the same slaw and fries. Jerry brought a little amuse bouche of haddock bites (you can’t escape “bites” these days, very trendy), which were lightly battered and fried and quite tasty.

More people arrived greeted most part with familiarity and the tables filled up. I suppose there’s about 20 tables or so which get separated or combined to accommodate the size of party. Quite informal.

Our food arrived fairly quickly. My oysters were along side the fries, with a separate dish for Mom’s Slaw. I counted the oysters and there were 16 of them, fairly small but nicely prepared, and were tasty. The shrimp were just barely fried, more like sautéed as you could see the shrimp, and were quite large. I thought the slaw was very good, lightly dressed, crisp and crunchy. The fries were, well, fries. I think next time I’ll try something besides them...

Then we come to the off menu Scampi dish for MFO. It was served in a white pasta bowl with I think rigatoni (ribbed tubes), the shrimp were discovered with some work because there was so much sauce you couldn’t see much. The sauce was like what you get on chicken fried steak, glutinous, heavy and not evenly distributed, with a large dollop on one side that spilled onto the edge of the bowl. White on white on white. It was not lightly seasoned either. Were we not in a bit of a hurry, it would have gone back to the kitchen and (IMHO) probably should not have left it. For what turned out to be a $35 investment, I would expect more. I didn’t look around much to see how many people were dining on 35 dollar dishes. Pretty steep pricing all around I think. If you’re willing to spend that much on one dish, there are other options around (although dwindling as we know).

Based on reviews from a good friend, I will return – maybe when crabs are in season. Now, I will freely admit our experience was one time, one night, one dish and that does not always reflect the overall picture of the place. Judging by the volume of people, a lot of them enjoy Jerry’s. Maybe I had too high of those darn expectations…But if you go, listen closely to the recitations and pricings...

Other Others:

This week’s “Weekend” does have a list of upcoming “Cultural” things, and mercifully they have dates a little further out than “tomorrow night”. This week’s featured restaurant is that “Skull” place. Sounds like just another Mexican restaurant for Chimi’s, Burritos, Enchiladas, Fajita’s, pretty standard stuff. And I repeat, what were they thinking? Let’s name a restaurant based on death! Nice..

One thing which I knew about but failed to relate is that tomorrow night (yes, I know, but what can you do?) there will be an event at the Port Of Leonardtown Winery that sounds interesting. Get this! It involves a French Chef (Loic from Café Des), bison meat, and chili. “Chill out with chili!” That combo is enough to make me want to go! 10 in advance, 12 at the door, apparently including some wine tasting..6 – 8.

Enough. Good weekend, no matter what you do, think about


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ding! Dinner's Ready (?)

Well, after stunning you yesterday with probably more than you wanted to know, we’ll go lighter today (remember lite Wednesdays?) and pose a question that’s been lurking in the back of the brain for a while.

The question revolves around that ubiquitous appliance of modern culinary hardware, the Microwave Oven. Around in some form for about 65 years (like me), it seems to find enough usefulness that it is now part of the standard kitchen suite. As a quick aside, as I was trying to find out when the thing was invented, so I googled “when was the microwave invented” and of course about the time I got to “micr…” it anticipated my query and popped several suggestions. If you want an interesting little read, do that and read one of them. The story sounds a bit urban legendish, but the history involves a chocolate bar in a pocket (read, but don’t forget to come back here).

I guess we all use them for various things, with popcorn probably leading the way. How DO they make the popcorn button work perfectly every time? Although everybody probably assumes that the Feeder dines on gourmet food every evening, the sad truth is, not. I freely admit that sometimes due to schedule pressures or just plain laziness, we resort to having frozen meals of some sort. No defense, just putting fuel in the furnace. Our standard used to be Marie Callender’s, but lately even they have gone downhill.

My dilemma arose again the other night when we decided to have a Beecher’s Mac and Cheese. Alert readers may recall that Beecher’s is a cheese maker in the Seattle region (which we've mentioned before) that makes so-called “artisanal” cheeses, although they pretty much mass produce them. They are good. Anyway, they also make the “world’s best” Macaroni and Cheese in a regular and more spicy version. We have friends who make semi-regular trips to the area and are kind enough to keep us supplied with both the cheeses and Macs.

So wanting to treat the dish with respect, we read the directions on the package. As with most frozen products you’re given two options: One, “Conventional Oven”, and Two, “Microwave Oven”. The conventional approach has you preheat the oven to 375°, (maybe 10 minutes or so), cook until bubbly (stirring half way through) and golden, around 50 minutes and then let sit for another 5. So the product is ready in roughly a little over an hour. Or, alternatively you can use the little Micro set on high for 6, stir, 3 – 4 more, sit 5, and voila! Dinner is served. So your choices are eat in one hour, or 15 minutes.

So therein lies my dilemma. Like the oven, I tend to be conventional. So when we have selected most “frozen” situations, unless strong pressure is mounted (by the other half of the kitchen team), I tend to use the oven. Or in other applications, I’ll boil the little pouches in water for 30 minutes rather than bombarding them with electrons for 3. After all, I’m a cook not a button pusher!

So here’s the big question: Do you get exactly the same results with either technique?

Okay, dear readers, what do you think? If you have an opinion, you can e-mail to the “bill at billsbottomfeeder dot com” address or if you know the local one, that’ll work also..

If using the micro, I usually don’t bother to


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Today's Date is......

31!.. do you know why?

(more normal post tomorrow)

but you still have to


Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekend Ramblings and Buzz....

After our sketchy holiday period with goods and bads, it's nice when you have some experiences of good and good. Such was our last weekend! When you’re “retired”, your weekend can begin whenever you wish it to..however Monday must always be faced so we’ll (try to) be brief today.

Anyway, I called Friday morning the beginning of my weekend, and kicked off what turned out to be a great day (and rest of the weekend) with a coffee with a good friend at the Coffee Quarter in San Souci.. I like that venue for meeting somebody where you might like a little private conversation. Coffee and service is another story for another time. After that, I went over to Target and actually procured a Yogi mat (what’s that? Yes, I am going to try Yogi to help the body age more gracefully). In the process of doing that, discovered that Target has a quite large “food market” section with fresh fruits, veggies, frozen stuff, and packaged meats. As I was gawking around (where the TV’s used to be) what turned out to be the manager of the section approached me and gave me a little tour after observing my gawking… Nice lady. Maybe feeling pressure from the “Mart’s” Clean and nice, check it out sometime..

I then took a late lunch at Blue Wind Gourmet where I enjoyed a bowl of the white bean soup, a Firestone Ale, and was able to lounge my way through the latest edition of “Sauce” the great foodie paper from St. Louis.

In the evening, MFO and I went over to Leonardtown for the first “First Friday” of the New Year. Lots of folks enjoying art (and wine) at the North End Gallery (celebrating their 25th year), shopping a bit at Quality Street, looking at stuff in the Stichery, enjoyed a few tunes by John Shaw in Fenwick Street Books plus a nice conversation with Joe the owner, always fun to talk to. Lots of familiar faces to see, and spend a little time with. We finished all that around 8 and decided to get a bite. We headed for the Front Porch (see note below!), but it was pretty packed and we decided to pass this time. Besides, I had recently noticed my “oyster tank” was empty and so we went over to Thompson’s Korner Kafe where I figured I could get a nice refill. It was toward the end of the evening, but there were a few tables available so we sat down. When we went to the counter to order (menu or white board choices) I asked what the “oyster cup” was, and was told it was “about half a dozen fried oysters and fries”. Okay, fine. That, and a Bud Light (a great pairing). MFO decided on the vegetable crab soup and a egg salad sandwich (still kind of recovering from our “Wisconsin scourge”). When our dishes came out I found out my “cup” runneth over. There were 14 (I counted them!) large golden brown, crunchy coated oysters that were just “set”. Boy they were good. Of course everything is served on Styrofoam, but that’s okay, it’s just right (of which I am a fan of!). Kevin came over to check. That’s a nice place. I like it..

So that was our first weekend day. For our second, we started off attending a joint meeting of the St. Mary’s and Calvert County Education Association. They have an annual “Legislative Meeting” where they meet with delegates to let them know about needs and wants and the legislators tell them there is no money. Pretty much that was the norm for this meeting, although it’s always fun to fun to listen to the silver tongued delegates dance around the questions. Part of their equipment I guess. The breakfast was at Lennie’s, and was the steam table buffet one might expect. A little culinary note here, I have noticed that lately it has become fashionable to serve sausages that (I hope are) Maple Flavored. What they turn out to be is a slightly sweety, medicinal chemical taste that isn’t too good. I think.

After that, we came back to the digs (in the snow), loaded up the MOMSTER, and headed North to attend the holiday party hosted by the outfit that pays me money to be smart about flutter. They have the “corporate” offices in Falls Church and they were having a wine and cheese reception there, and then we were to go on to dinner. Life in the private sector is good. They reserved rooms in the nearby Marriott for an overnight stay for all the Southern Marylanders. So we arrived as the temperature dropped, checked in, relaxed and got DFD’d and met one of my SOMD co-workers in the bar for a pregame drink. I ordered the drink test, and the only failure was that it was put “up” instead of over the rocks, but I shut up. We then dashed across the parking lot to the “offices” had had a very nice glass of wine and some cheeses. Lest the impression comes across of a huge crowd, this is a small business so there were only maybe twenty folks there including significant others.

After that we were to meet at “2941” a restaurant pretty highly acclaimed by Sietsema and (FWIW) 18th on “best 100” list just published in the January issue of the Washingtonian. It was relatively close by, but further than walking could support, especially in that weather. So MFO and I got back in the MOMSTER and said we’d meet others there. We had not been to this restaurant before, but no matter, I had its address in my trusty little GPS in the Droid. In the car, on with the system, called up the address, got navigation started and off we go in the dark following the lady’s demands. The GPS did its thing and expertly guided us to an empty parking lot in front of a dark building that no way resembled a restaurant. Uh oh. Technology failure! However with a couple of phone calls, more GPS work finally found us at the entrance to 2941, the nice valets took care of the MOMSTER, and we went inside. 2941 is a cavernous place, with lots of chrome, décor, and gleaming white tablecloths and silver in the main dining spaces. However, we were led to a side room, one of many, as they are well equipped to handle parties such as ours.

Our group was in the “waterfall” room, and due to our tour of northern Virginia, they were already into the wine and appetizers, so we had to make up for lost time. The room had a view of an outside water feature (hence the name and was very pleasant). A full bar and passed appetizers such as Satays and crab balls made a nice start to the dinner. Eventually we all sat around a large single table set with silver and crystal. In front of each plate was a napkin cradling a menu for the evening. There were choices for each of three courses, Appetizers, Main Courses and Desserts. There had nice options, with appetizers offering a wild mushroom mille feuille or crab salad, main courses of chestnut ravioli, beef tenderloin, or grilled swordfish, and finishing with either a warm chocolate cake or sticky apple pudding. Each course included a little description of the dish. For instance the swordfish was with butternut squash, celery root, cauliflower, truffle sauce. A bit difficult to imagine, but at least you knew what you were going to get. I chose the mushrooms, the fish and the cake, with MFO going opposite (for tasting) salad, beef, and pudding. Meanwhile the conversation and wine flowed profusely, and try as I might I was unable to see the labels on the wines, but they were quite nice. They also had those sort of oversize glasses you get sometimes when ordering off the “cellar” list so that was nice. Baskets of tasty bread helped sop the wine. Eventually dishes began appearing, and I didn’t really take close notice, but it seemed that the appetizers came out with the “all mushroom, then salad” approach rather than by seat. I am not sure if that continued throughout the meal, but with a small party it wasn’t so bad, or at least I didn’t get agitated. The food was quite good. The mushrooms were pungent and earthy, the swordfish was meaty and the sauce tasty. I thought the sauce was a bit “bright” in that it was a real orangey, which on a white plate with white fish was a bit much, but the fish was good. MFO’s tenderloin came with a “short rib dumpling” which was kind of unique. Anyway, for a group setting I thought they did a good job. I would go back on our own, although a small loan would be appropriate if you look at “regular” pricing. A nice touch was that when we left, there were wrapped baguette to take with you if you desired. We did, and it was good car food the next day.

So a leisurely ride home on Sunday morning after an okay breakfast (with more of those odd sausages) in the Marriott concluded the “out and about” portion of the weekend. The rest was spent on the couch observing the Ravens and Packer’s victories. Nice weekend..

The times, they keep a changin..

It’s funny about the restaurant/food service trade. The only thing that seems common is change. Things open, things close. She leaves, he comes in. I haven’t kept a good record of changes around here, but now we hear that there will be more changes to the Front Porch in Leonardtown. You remember that after Corbels went dark, it opened as a “more accessible” (for want of a better term) place with reduced pricing and a more varied menu. It now appears that the Chef (Brendan Cahill) who was lately from The Old Field Inn in Prince Frederick will bring his talents to the space. Maybe a better fit as he is familiar with dining in historic places. Too early for any real substantial changes, just wait and see what works out. We'll hope for the best. I also have heard that they may take more stock of the historic aspects of the space (The Sterling House) which IMHO would be a good idea. Harmony in all things… MFO did have lunch there today and appreciated the roasted red pepper soup.

maybe more pressure to


Friday, January 7, 2011

Returning to "Of This and That"...

No pictures today, just lots of words....

As the "holidaze" begins to be replaced with attention to normal life (definition subjective) we can return to more usual stuff in this column. Things of interest randomly entered in the “Of this and that” category:


I went down to St. Mary’s City last night to hear another in the series of Brian Ganz’s performance of Chopin pieces. You’ve heard me wax eloquent about his abilities before, so no use going over those again. What struck me last night that there was only one piece of about ten he played for which he used the score. Even took “requests” from the audience.. I had my hand in the air for “Misty” but wasn’t called upon. Instead he played a beautiful Etude which had a string of opus and numbers and keys on it which I can’t remember. I always sit in the second row from the back, second seat in on the right side, a hallowed seat of some friends. I sort of do that so I don’t get carried away looking at his hands on the keyboard and can concentrate on the music. The little Etude he played was lilting (if that’s a word) and somehow the music just sort of seemed to be in the air rather than emanating “from” the piano. His first “big time” Chopin Series will be the 22nd with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Bethesda.

The “Weekend” section of today’s Enterprise (the one with another great Reid Silverman shot of a kid in a pool) features a cover photo of Tom Chapin (those of us old enough to remember him) announcing that his “act for grown ups” (he does children’s stuff as well) is coming to CSM (College of Southern Maryland). And indeed reading inside, it is. But in true frustrating Enterprise fashion, the concert is NEXT MONDAY. Now I don’t know about you, but I like to schedule at least two weeks out. Next Monday is three days away. C’mon folks, you must have known about this earlier than today!! Unfortunately that is right up against the BCS championship game which I am committed to. I suspect sports do not weigh as heavy in some musical circles so maybe that’s okay. It’s in La Plata at 8 in the Fine Arts Center.

More locally, there is a concert in Tribute to Tom Wisner at the Calvert Marine Museum. And hey, for planning purposes, it’s TOMORROW night. Maybe I missed the earlier notices..think it’s also maybe at 8

On the event side even closer in, tonight will be the 2011 inaugural First Friday in Leonardtown. Usual stuff.. I think the book store will feature John Shaw musically..

Speaking of the Weekend insert, and the inevitable Mr. Mercer’s column, today’s entry features Pope’s Creek Restaurant, a waterfront dining (NOT a crab house) spot in Newburg. As usual it’s the typical recitation of the decor, menu and prices, all good info, along with high praises of everything he ate. Occasionally though, gems creep in whether intended or not. In describing a steak entrée, he passes on that the server “noted that the kitchen currently had a particularly good cut of strip steak at its disposal”. Perhaps this is a veiled warning that typically they don’t have very good cuts available? Maybe a call ahead asking as to the quality of the food available for the evening might be warranted.

Anyway, where I was going is that there was a little box to the side noting the closing of several restaurants. Mexico’s Lusby Location, a Bilvil in North Beach (one of his “top picks” in 2009 ~ fame is fleeting), and more notably the Naughty Gull in Solomon’s. That place was here forever and in the “old days” was very popular. Always a bit difficult to find, but was good in the “old days”. I had not been there in years.. And, in the same box there is announcement of the opening of a new Mexican Restaurant in Prince Frederick. The name is (I am not making this up) Skull Mexican Restaurant. What were they thinking?

Over the holidays he published a “Year in Dining” weekend edition. As this is getting long I won’t dissect it, but it was interesting reading. A listing of his “favorites” (which from week to week seem to include anyplace he went) locally included: Emily’s; Laughing Buddha; the Mixing Bowl; Café Des Artistes; and I’ll give him credit here, Courtney’s. I don’t have a quarrel with any of those. A list of changes strangely didn’t include the closing of Brome Howard Inn, (IMHO) the best restaurant we’ve ever had here.


What did he say? Politics? Feeder! What’s up with that? Well, while I endeavor to and will stay a-political in these postings, I do observe. I am not taking any position here although it might be misinterpreted as that, but watching what’s going on in Washington is making me depressed. I have never in my long (and getting longer) years of observing “the scene”, seen such venom and anger between the political parties. Now, in the House the party that spent two years saying “no” seems intent on dismantling everything that happened over those past two years. Regardless of your viewpoint, is that what we elect people for? Tearing down? I suppose rule number whatever will kick in (never as bad or good as it seems) will kick in and business will return to usual. It will make interesting if depressing viewing..OK, I'll shut up.

And, on that note we’ll go do something else. Tomorrow night MFO and I are going up the road to a dinner party held by the firm that employs me. Will wait until Sunday or so to recount. Am enthusiastic about prospects… we will have to take enough clothing to make sure we can


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two Bucks worth of Cheer...

Okay, we need to put a wrap on Christmas (get it? Christmas?….Wrap? only us highly trained professional writers can come up with material like that!!).

Anyway, after 2800 miles, 10 states, untold gallons and dollars of gas, angst over weather and roads, accommodations, pretty good andnot so good pretty meals, stress of moving MFOM, and dealing with various illnesses, we finally saw our welcome home sign.

I suppose it might somehow have shown through that aside from seeing our family, this time of year is NOT the feeder’s most joyous season (for a lot of the reasons above). But, but, this year, I found that a little two buck investment brought a nice glow to the cold heart of the feeder.

For two dollars at the “Family Dollar” (however that works) store, I purchased this little cheapy Santa Hat before we left.

I took to wearing it around town as we prepared to leave. What the hell. Amazingly it sort of took on its own magic. For instance, one morning standing in line in Starbucks with a bunch of caffeine deprived grumps in the morning, a look at the hat brought smiles to some. People would say, “I like your hat! Merry Christmas!”, and actually smile. Which made me smile and lifted my spirits some. I didn’t become Santa, but it did make me feel good..

I also wore it on the road on our travels, and some passing autos (those going slow enough to see anything) would occasionally give me a thumbs up. I wore it around St. Louis before Christmas with equal effect. I even wore it to our visit to he sleek and chic Niche (after a couple of glasses of wine) and as we passed the open kitchen, a server awaiting his food said “nice hat!” I got several similar reactions around town.

But the memory that will stick in my mind for a long time was in a gas station/convenience store in the middle of flat corn country in Mount Vernon, Illinois. I was going in to use the facility (as usual), and as I neared the door I noticed a small girl (about three feet) of apparent Hispanic descent on the other side of the glass. As I approached, her eyes got as big as saucers, an astonished look came over her face, and she turned and ran from sight. As I entered, she was dragging her Mom along by the hand yelling “look mommy, look mommy!” and pointing at me. My eyes met Mom’s and we smiled. I said something about an early visit, and wished her a Merry Christmas. And I got one too…best two bucks I’ve ever spent.

So there you have it. A bow is on the 2010 Christmas package. Some highs, some lows, some new things – the Waterfront Tavern in La Crosse, the discovery of Leinenkugel’s “Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout”; some old – Piggy’s, the Hungrey Peddler, but always unique. Tops is the chance to be with the FOJ’s and families, and seeing some joy in a 95 year old lady’s face who can live on her own again.

Okay, 2011 here we come. Fearless and unafraid, but always


Monday, January 3, 2011

La Crosse Dining For Three, and a footnote.....

almost done folks, hang in

One of the ways we try to cope with the (mostly self imposed) stress when visitation MFOM and S in Wisconsin is at the end of the day to try to have a good meal or at least a lunch and find some consolation in the food. And so it was with this trip, with an interesting note at the end. We tried three places, two we had been to before and a new find which I don’t know how escaped my eagle eye for restaurants.


Alert readers may remember that when the “family” gathered to celebrate MFOM’s 95th birthday earlier this summer we had a meal at “Piggys” a restaurant in downtown La Crosse. It is pretty much a carnivore’s heaven (hey those winters are cold in Wisconsin), and proudly proclaims: “A hardwood smoker on property is always stoked with hickory and Minnesota apple wood from the surrounding hills and bluffs. Prime Rib, Baby Back Ribs, Pork Chops, Salmon and Chicken are a few of the menu entrees that are smoked to perfection”; and in fact it does flavor the air around the place. We had enjoyed an evening in their bar this summer so we thought that after a day of schlepping boxes this time, we’d try again. Mercifully this time there was no live music (Monday night) so conversation was easy. Servers were again friendly and casual, no names, just drink orders. I did the dirty martini and MFO had a glass of something from Lyeth. Menu was same as last time (including the “soup of the month”), sandwiches, salads (including Ice Berg Wedge), and beef, pork, chicken and fish. There were vegetarian pastas available. We talked a while and then each ordered one of the 6 (?) choices of burgers, along with fries, and we ordered a starter of “Dairy Fresh Cheese Curds” – basically fried cheese but a good bar starter. It got to the point that the server had to assure us the burgers would be out shortly. That’s not good. Anyway the burgers were served, nothing special, just a burger on a plate and fries. And, although we ordered the burgers “medium rare” as we always do, they were gray throughout. And, no wonder it was only slightly (or not) thicker than a quarter-pounder. And, my “five cheeses” would all lift off the burger intact, not exactly melted. But what the hell you gonna do, we ate them as served and they weren’t bad. When the server asked how everything was, I pointed out the “well done” medium rare preparation. She was sorry and would let the kitchen know. No, we don’t want another. They did offer a complimentary dessert, but we were past that.

Something about that burger stuck in my mind, so I dug into my little brown notebook for notes from 3 July and what do you know? “Burger very overdone”. I suppose it’s a problem to the kitchen to deal with the “undercooked meat may be a source of….” Which always shows up on their menu. I guess we’d go back but seek another source for burgers. Maybe one of those smoked things. So that meal was not too satisfying, although the dirty martini and Glarus Spotted Cow was quite fine.


So the next evening we decided not to go back there and instead carried out a threat to “We gotta eat dinner there sometime” as applied to the Hungry Peddler. If those alert readers are still awake, they may also remember that I love the breakfast(s) we have had there on earlier trips. The place is a museum of the past, great pictures on the wall, dark paneling, beer cans over the bar, servers with thick Wisconsin accents (don’ cha noooo). Breakfasts were always great so we were anxious to see what they would do with dinner. Well, to be fair, ours was awful. There was a little plaque from some distributor about how many steaks they have served. I think it was over 10,000. The blackboard special was sirloin tips with mushrooms. As we were seated there was a little plate of radishes, carrots, and pickles, laid side by each. There was also a little dish of (dried) toast squares and a basket of rolls. In honor of the place, I ordered a Brandy Manhattan, and I guess it was okay, although I’m certainly no judge of that drink. I ordered a T-Bone and selected the side of shrimp prepared scampi (or coconut, fried, or chilled). We each had a cup of soup, chicken vegetable and a fairly passable French onion. Our main courses were brought out smartly. The “steak” I had was probably the worst attempt at the noble T Bone I’ve ever seen. A pallid gray hunk of something with islands of “meat” in between rings of fat that were somewhat impervious to the knife. Taste was not present. MFO’s “tips” were tough little hunks of meat that had some very odd seasoning on them. Maybe over thymed, or something. On the good side (or bad) is that the portions were huge. Most of the tables were occupied by what appeared to be “locals”, so they probably make a good living. We would not go back for dinner, but in no way would it deter a visit for another breakfast.

and Three....

So when Wednesday, our last day rolled around, we planned to celebrate Christmas with MFOM & S in the evening so we decided to have a nice lunch. Good idea, but where. On advice from both of the FOJ’s I used the “Yelp” app on my phone and it came up with The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern. It had great reviews with words like “I never knew there was a fine dining restaurant in La Crosse, but there it is!” Turns out it is in one of the sleek new buildings on the downtown waterfront. We were even more surprised when it turns out that it’s been there five years (!) and we never knew about it. The space was done in muted wood tones, and several partitions that gave it some sense of privacy. We were seated at a half banquette with a couch on one side and chairs on the other. MFO gave the chairs a thumbs up for comfort. The menu was brief, but contained several luncheon salads, sandwiches, some appetizers (calamari rings, for instance). And what I thought was really a nice touch. There is a section called “you pick two” and a list of nine choices:Turkey, artichoke and spinach wrap; Italian Club Panini; Cranberry cashew chicken salad croissant; Albacore tuna salad croissant; Waterfront house salad; Pear and Gorgonzola salad; Classic Caesar salad; Fresh Seasonal fruit; and Soup du jour. And it was only $7.75. The other choices on the menu were pretty fairly priced. The most expensive of which were “land and sea sliders” for $12. We decided to celebrate with a split of bubbly, but it was Korbel’s (the value priced one not the classic). Severs were dressed in white tops and black slacks with aprons, very tasteful. Other guests in the restaurant were adequately DFL, although a young couple next to me had a T Shirt, but with a logo and they had a young child in tow, who was very well behaved. I decided on the classic Caesar and Italian Club Panini, and MFO decided on the cranberry chicken salad croissant and the gorgonzola salad. I was not given a wine list, and sort of accepted a suggestion of their 14 Hands Merlot. Eventually our plates came out, and were very nicely presented

My salad as you can see had grated parmesan, a very nice lavosh “crouton” and although there was no physical anchovy, it’s presence was apparent in the dressing. Those greens were as crunchy and fresh as they look. The sandwich although a bit dry (it did have some zesty dressing, just not quite enough) but was ample and had good ingredients. Not just bologna, for instance..

So there, under our noses was apparently a very nice restaurant, and upon exiting we went through the bar which was quite classy. Dark wood paneling overstuffed chairs, an elegant bar, a great place to have drinks. Next time..

Unfortunately there was a little footnote to our lunch. Our celebration of Christmas was to start off with a dinner at the local Olive Garden (MFOM is queen and we go where she says). After getting her and the wheel chair out of the Momster, navigating MFOM to the door and getting her inside, MFO said “I don’t feel very good” and headed for the rest room. We did carry out and went back to the apartment. MFO didn’t have a very pleasant evening, to say the least. Early in the morning the “symptoms” seemed to have slacked off, and we loaded her into the chock full Momster and headed home. Although she felt like heck, there were no panic stops and we held up early in Lafayette IN instead of our usual Richmond Indiana stopping place. Was there food poisoning? Who knows, it’s hard to prove although we did file a report with a nice man at the La Crosse Health Department. I would hope a restaurant like that would have proper food care procedures, but you never know. When we return, we’ll definitely go back to Waterfront, just maybe no chicken salad for old time’s sake.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

On Wisconsin...

After Christmas with our family, the next leg was to head north to Wisconsin.

MFO’s Mom (MFOM?) was going to return to the duplex next to MFO’s Sister (MFOS). Imagine being 95 and going to live solo again. She had some health issues earlier in the year, and she has made a remarkable recovery and wants to live alone. So besides celebrating Christmas with them, we were going to help with the transfer.

So we load up the Momster with gifts and stuff and a couple of huge speakers on loan from FOJTE, and headed north. Usual route through Illinois, with all the usual sights

Along with reminders that we were going north which usually means you see lots of

Eventually after going through Rockford we got the welcome

And invitation for dining—

As an aside here, we did have lunch with MFOM and S, and M likes the soup at Culvers, so we went there. Staff was friendly, place was clean, and food was better than Mickey Dee’s – although I had a salad rather than a butter burger.

Anyway, La Crosse was pretty buried in snow that had accumulated for the season

With things we don’t see here much-

La Crosse is a nice town, they're so friendly and helpful, but they DO like their taverns and a certain football team

We did have a chance to dine by ourselves, and that will comprise the last edition. I’m tired and I want to go watch football—and speaking of football:

And I guess I have to confess I still have a depression hangover after the MSU Spartans who were ranked number nine for the Capitol One bowl yesterday could probably have been beaten by a good JV high school team. Mercifully Mr. Sabin took pity on his old employer and played second stringers most of the second half.. what an embarrassment. And the other team from Michigan looked equally inept. Probably good bye Rich Rod

So we’ll look at some new and old restaurants we visited in La Crosse tomorrow and almost close out the holidays.. we noticed that when in the great white north, there is a different standard of