Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Moving On...

With MFO out of town, I am faced with providing food for myself. We won’t discuss cooking for one (on a “gourmet” basis), but it’s a lot of work and there's nobody but you to enjoy it. The previous two evenings were sullied by community obligations, resulting in mediocre foods. So, tonight I thought I would reward myself with a “nice” meal. After a “work day” of frustration at the base, “I’m sorry sir, your access seems to be out of date”. I came home and DFD’d and headed out to the Tides, (satisfying the requirement for “close” and “acceptable food”). I got there to a packed parking lot, but undaunted I went inside. Wrong. Two deep at the bar with “Contractors” and “customers”, I found no seats at the bar. Good for them, bad for me. I turned and left.

So, here I am constructing my DMOTRWAT for myself, and wondering where my next meal is coming from..

Another bit on technology, I am currently still without “blog “email, but am on the track. While I criticize technology, there are some positives. Like “caller ID” on your land line. Phone rings, you look and it says “Unavailable”, or “unknown caller”. Fine ignore.

Travel update: MFO in Wisconsin:Bottom Feeder alone in Pax..

again, she will most definately be


if i am not


yesterday i checked the "blog" mail ( and there were a few messages from alert readers with the usual insightful and clever comments. So, i selected one and wrote a nice reply, hit "send" and got:

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:

'Name' on 3/29/2011 8:46 PM
503 Valid RCPT command must precede DATA

OMG. panic arose. try again. same thing.. OMG OMG.

then this morning i decided to try to post a blog about it, and the first try was "we have a problem with your cookies". clear cookies. same thing. clear browsing history. same thing. ultimately just to log on to my blog site, i had to add Google to the "allow" thing. finally at last, i think i got that whipped, since you're seeing this. as to the e-mail? still hosed.. it's always something..

MFO made it to STL, and today is leaving for the Wisconsin leg. what a gal..even though it won't be required in Onalaska, she will be prepared to


Monday, March 28, 2011


All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…

The dawn is breakin’, it’s early morn
The MOMSTER is waiting
…(fortunately NOT blowin’ it’s horn)

Now the time has come to leave you…

And so, off into the snow yesterday goes the MOMSTER with MFO at the controls. She’s on her way to Wisconsin (via St. Louis) for the annual spring (?) visit to Mom’s in Onalaska. Never mind the snow, just leave the Feeder with apprehension and put the pedal to the metal and off you go…

So, that left the Feeder alone in the snow of late March. But, ever alert for creative photography opportunities, I grabbed the Canon feeling good about myself and set about finding snow shots figuring I’d be able to get some unique images. Well, if any of you check FaceBook or the ilk, you’ll see that damn near everybody who owns a camera had the same thought and the news feeds are full of shots of snow and flowers. Ah well, just to massage my ego some, here’s some of my offerings…(which will NOT appear on my facebook – mostly because I have no clue on how to get them there)

Fun to do, a nice opportunity. You have to be aware of the gifts from Mother Nature…

Maryland Day

The day before MFO’s departure was Maryland Day and we spent a lot of time at Historic St. Mary’s City helping with the festivities. Fortunately our tasks involved ushering people to seats and giving them a program in a warmed tent. Those of you who have experienced the day in previous years know that it’s pretty much known for bad weather. Yesterday by comparison was quite nice, although there was a pretty stiff breeze if you stayed outside. The usual set of luminaries participated in the program, with remarks from Steny Hoyer who always is fun to listen to (regardless of your political opinions), John McCallister who is Chair of the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission (responsible for caring for the City at a State level), and other notables. Although not on the scheduled program, Jack Russell president of the BOC for the county said a “few” words. These are all nice local things that make you like to live here.

Anyway, part of the program was to award the Cross Bottony Award, the highest award given by the City to somebody who’s efforts resulted in outstanding contributions to the City. Sometimes, they are ceremonial in nature, but this year it went to Pete Himmelheber, who is one of the tour guides for the City. Nobody could be more deserving of this honor than Pete. Anybody who has led over 600 tours of groups of 4th graders deserves any award that can be given. I’m sure there will be further awards in heaven someday. Besides his tour guide duties, Pete is also one of the so-called ChapVols, a little group of 5 folks (including yours truly) who have spent several years interpreting the Brick Chapel of 1667 during its reconstruction to Museum visitors on the weekends. Alternatively freezing or sweating, we man (and woman) the Chapel answering any question that people have… how long, how much, why is, when did, who was, where are the bathrooms (see that bush?....)all that stuff. During the years of doing this we have developed a pretty good grasp on the Chapel’s history and reconstruction. Part of the ceremonies yesterday involved the “opening” of the new (so-called) Pavillion, which now contains several signboards for people to read. Of course, they can’t replace the brilliant repartee of the Vols, but they are there 24/7 which the Vols are not. Check it out. Anyway, Pete is a very deserving recipient of the award.

(that's a cake, not the award...)

So, that was our weekend pretty much, I hope you had a chance to get out and do something, and enjoyed the brief snow. key word brief

And you’ll notice I didn’t say one thing about the NCAA’s…

With MFO gone, it might be a little struggle to


Friday, March 25, 2011

More Winners....

Happy Maryland Day, and only nine more shopping months until Christmas

It must be the season for awards. We already covered the James Beard awards, but wait, there’s more! If you live around here (Lexington Park), you can’t help but know that Maryland Life Magazine recently came out with a “best of” list (which they cleverly called the “Free State’s Finest”) for all sorts of stuff, and the local area scored heavily. Here’s the list:

Best Historic Town - Leonardtown
Best Restaurant, Fine Dining, Appetizer and Dessert - Café des Artistes (Four!!)
Best Family Dining - Rustic River
Best Coffeehouse - Brewing Grounds
Best Crabs - Captain Leonard's Seafood
Best Ice Cream - Bruster's
Best Gallery - North End Gallery
Best Park and Ghost Tour - Point Lookout
Best Golf - Breton Bay Golf and Country Club
Best Festival - Oyster Festival
Best Fair - St. Mary's County Fair
Best Historic Attraction and Best Place to Get Married - Historic St. Mary's City
Best Music Artist - David Norris
Best Wine and Best Kept Secret - Port of Leonardtown Winery

Turns out that the awards were done on a “reader’s poll” basis, not an independent objective evaluation by the editors or something. And, the awards were sort of done by county, so there were several winners in say the “Finest Wedding Venue”, or “Finest Fine Dining”. In some of the categories there was included an Editor’s Pick. Like for instance in the Fine Dining group the editor’s pick was Bartlett Pear Inn, which you may have heard of in this column. Anyway, as far as the St. Mary’s County list above goes, all I will say is that there are a few surprises to me. Some I would agree with, others not, and we’ll stop there. Reader's polls can be a fickle thing...

If you want to go, there’s a celebration tonight (5 to 7) at the Best Kept Secret Port of Leonardtown Winery. I would guess that after you get an award for the Best Kept Secret, it isn’t so much a secret anymore. Anyway, MFO and I have another obligation tonight so we won’t be there for the festivities. If you want to see the complete list, click here.

And yet more awards, our local newspaper the Enterprise, received six awards from the Suburban Newspapers of America. The national awards were for journalism type things, best headline, best environmental coverage kinds of things. I earnestly hope there was not a category for “best photography”, because I don’t know how anybody could beat our Reid Silverman. He consistently has great shots week after week. I hope they appreciate his work. With me, it’s kind of the reverse of the old saying about Playboy: “I only read the Enterprise to look at the pictures”.

And, in the same newpaper issue they list the local restaurants that received a Gold Star award from the Board of Health. I would just caution you that if you don’t see your favorite purveyor of food, don’t be alarmed. You have to apply for the award which forces you to do certain things that cost the restaurant money, and some choose not to participate. Most of the places the discerning readers of the Bottom Feeder frequent hold themselves to the highest standard of food safety.

and just a note that in the "weekend" section of that award winning paper, the Restaurant Description is about Casey Jones in LaPlata. I keep forgetting that is indeed a fine dining opportunity that is relatively accessible. I also saw that the long time chef (Gary Fick) has moved on "to a new venture". Mild alarm going off there. I have had several very good meals there over the years..

Brunch Bunch Comment:

There has been a continuing thread since I said there isn’t anywhere in the county to have a nice Sunday brunch, with many e-mails of “how about XYZ?”. I would only add that to qualify for a Sunday Brunch, there has to be a separate menu solely for Sunday, not just the same menu used on Saturday presented on Sunday.

To Do:

My goodness, I can’t begin to list the events associated with Maryland Day that’s happening around the county this weekend. Lectures, programs, Inauguration of the SMC president, pageants, on and on. MFO is currently down (freezing her….) in Colton’s Point for the festivities down there..And tomorrow we’ll be at (award winning) Historic St. Mary’s City. Too many nothings to do…

Travel Note:

And speaking of MFO, she’s climbing in the MOMSTER on Sunday to do the spring drive to visit her Mother in Wisconsin, and of course her route includes St. Louis. What a gal..

But, even though away from home, she will most certainly


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And the Winner Is.......

The music folks have the Grammies, the movie contingent has Oscars, and there’s something called the Golden Globes. In the food industry (aside from the silly “top chef” awards) there is the James Beard Awards. I guess they’re not called the Beardies, but they are a pretty prestigious award. They announced the nominees Monday, and they’re too numerous to list here.

There are about twenty (food service) categories, but chefs are divided up by region; mid-Atlantic, northeast, south, southeast, and so forth, and of course NYC rates a category unto itself. There are general overall awards; “Best” new restaurant; outstanding restaurant, outstanding chef, and so forth. The general categories are kind of dominated by New York, San Francisco, Chicago and so forth. DC restaurants did okay, with nominations for best chef (mid-Atlantic) for Restaurant Eve, Komi, and Obelisk (Michel, where are you???), with outstanding chef for Mini Bar..

Besides the restaurant related ones there is a plethora of writing awards as well. If you care to wade through the whole list here’s your chance.

TV Watching:

Last week returning to the digs after sorting books for the book sale, I relaxed a while and turned on the Food Channel. Sometimes in the dead time you can watch older versions of some of the shows while they were still interested in maybe helping you prepare foods rather than “it’s all about MEEEEEEEE!”. As fate would have it, I happened on dear Rachel Ray with a show about 30 minute meals, and endured her extreme perkiness long enough to watch her prepare some egg cup dish. The idea was that you stuffed some ham/prosciutto into a muffin tin, lined it further with spinach, cracked an egg into it and then baked it. I watched as she raved on about how wonderful the food would be and you could cook it real fast, etc. Well, the ham was indeed stuffed into the muffin tin, with odd pieces hanging over the edge in every which way, threw a handful of spinach in it without re-arranging, and then reached for the eggs. She probably made four or so while the camera was on her, and I bet that on at least three of the four, the yolk broke and ran all over the cup. No mention, no apologies, just yammering on about how easy this was. I guess if you don’t give a damn how it turns out, it is easy. And then at the end of the show (as with most if not all of the cooking shows), she plated the things, and ceremoniously took a bite. As if surprised she rolled her eyes and declared it was the best thing she ever ate. IF these people have any talent they shouldn’t be surprised it tastes good (at least to them). Yummy! Wow! This is great! Sigh.

And another thing while I’m on a roll, it’s kind of interesting to see how some of the chefs are dressed on these shows (okay, mostly females). Do they honestly cook in some of those blouses? Nuff said, use your imagination..

Happy Buzz:

There are flyers/fliers (i never know which is correct) around saying that the Dry Dock will re-open on the first of April (with a new menu). MFO will be on another Midwest driving odyssey, so I think I might just go check it out.

On the Brunch front, I was informed that Café Des Artistes and the Hilton Garden Inn feature Sunday brunches. And with the re-opening of the Dry Dock, they are re-instituting their brunch which I have always enjoyed (along with that complimentary Mimosa).

Okay, that’s it. Please continue to


Monday, March 21, 2011

Gimme some....

Slack!…. After a long weekend at the (successful!) Friends of the Library book sale, MFO and I joined a couple of friends at a little wine tasting event down at Woodlawn, a B&B down near Ridge, now home of Slack Winery. You pass by it on Wynne Road, while on the way to Courtney’s…. It is on the historical property of St. Michael's Hundred, dating back to the early 17th century, and the manor house was painstakingly restored starting in the early 70’s.

It’s a gorgeous setting overlooking a portion of Calvert Bay just off the Potomac river. I can see why the colonists would like it..

The current owner/manager of Woodlawn is Jim Grube who has been interested in wine for quite a while, and still grows grapes on Jubilee Farm. He and his wife Maggie O’Brien along with their two sons have recently started the winery.

We were initially greeted by a rather non-traditionally dressed piper (DFP?), but it’s always a great beginning..

Once inside we started off by sampling a lovely (but I think not yet available) Sparkling Wine served “straight up” and also in the form of a Mimosa. It is a very, very nice wine made in the traditional Champagne method and is from the Chardonel Grape. When it is available, I would get some. We then moved to a white called “Yellow Legs”, made from 100% Petit Manseng, which they purchase from a grower in Virginia (only a few miles by water, but many more by truck!). They also poured a red, called Red Drum Red, a blend of Petit Verdot, Montepulciano, and Barbera. The name incidentally is meant to be a red wine that you might eat with the local fish, Red Drum. The Yellow Legs is quite nice and would go well with food. I appreciate the fact they keep it away from oak. The Red Drum is soft and approachable, it would be nice to sit on your patio and watch spring unfold with it. They also featured their new “dessert wine”, called Danny Boy Danny also from the Petit Manseng, which has a rather distinctive label. The wine is not quite as big and sweet as you would get with a Sauternes like wine, but would be pleasant to finish the evening with..

They of course had food which was quite nicely prepared and presented. Some items were passed and some were on buffet.

They also had a very good selection of cheeses, including some Kerry Gold Cheddar with Irish whiskey…I won’t start waxing about cheese, but good cheese is good.

After supping and sipping you could pass into their lovely little courtyard

Which now has a little gift shop (straight ahead) and the “tasting room” (on the left) featuring the wines.

All in all, a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. They are open from 11 – 6 Wednesday thru Sunday.. Worth a visit just to see the place, and the wines are a bonus. Down here where there’s nothing to do.

And, although we were suitably dressed, there were some that in my humble opinion, that were not

DFT(asting) – or at least commensurate with the setting…

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Friday!!

Hope you all have recovered from any excesses associated with St. Patrick’s day.

The to do list for the weekend might include visiting the Book Sale at the fairgrounds (today one to eight, members only – sign up at the door; Saturday ten to five; Sunday noon to four). I spent a lot of time at the cookbook table and there are hundreds of cookbooks, and lot of those little spiral bound “church” or “ladies auxiliary” kinds of things. I was a little saddened to see the quantity of the cooking light, healthy, fast, easy, cutting corners books and the dearth of “real” cookbooks. On the other hand, maybe it’s a good sign that people are ditching the other stuff and keeping the real books. Anyway, a good time to browse.

Saturday night there will be a Paella tasting event at the Port of Leonardtown Winery, with the Paella supplied by Loic from Café Des Artistes. French Chef does Spanish Dish. Might be worth investigating..not free….

Also Saturday night is an appearance of the “Pax Rats” a local musical group composed of engineers and Navy folk. Yes, they can carry a tune. It’s a the Tides… call for details.

Calvert Marine Museum will host a program by Nick Caloyianis who was the photographer for “The Shark Handbook” Sunday at two in their auditorium, book signing to follow. Free…

A little buzz for you:

There are rumors afloat that corporate Cracker Barrel folk have pulled the plug on the intended site here. Demographics are wrong somehow. Some will be pleased, others disappointed. One loyal reader sent me a note asking where they could go for a good Sunday Brunch/Buffet. I had no good answer for them other than “get in your car and head north to DC”. I assume they were looking for a brunch reminiscent of what used to be available at Brome Howard for instance, not two over easy.

Okay time to go get ready for the book sale..


and i didn't even use the word "Brackets".

Thursday, March 17, 2011


and the wearin' of the green (DFG?)

Hope all have/are/will enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. After our trip to Ireland last year we have had a more special interest in things Irish (except those who live in South Bend). I have read several books about Irish history and its trials and tribulations. If you want to drive yourself nuts, get one of the books and try it. What a history of this faction, that clan, Normans, Vikings, English, Scots, etc. No wonder they “takes to the drink” as they say. Anyway, there are lots of celebrations going on around here, and after a morning of sorting books for tomorrow’s book fair, I decided to stop off at D.B. McMillans, for a wee pint and maybe a bite. Quite a few folks were there in varying amount of green dress, including those currently fashionable “Dr. Suess” style tall floppy hats. The staff was also decked out in beads, flashing things, and goofy headwear. Quite the place. An Irish (?) musician was playing in the corner and I listened to a couple of songs. He spoke a fair amount between songs, and I believe he had an accurate accent. Pretty standard stuff, including the famous song about a sleeping Scot, kilt, and a blue ribbon (which I can't repeat here because this is a family column). But, he was fun. They were serving Guinness in plastic cups, and I had a couple and a corned beef sandwich. Of course you view yourself as an instant expert if you’ve been to St. James Gate in Dublin, but I really think what I was served today was inferior to the “real thing”

Oh, in an episode of “There is a God, Volume II”. I was leaving Leonardtown on the “Hollywood Leonardtown Road”. As locals know, the speed limit along by the first section of the road by CSM and the Library is 30 mph. I know this seems like walking, but that’s the law, and a lady two cars ahead of me was obeying the law. The car between us was another of those little windup cars with a huge exhaust pipes and a hand made wing on the trunk. The driver was taking issue the the law abiding citizen’s respect for the regulations as he swerved left, then right, slowed down, zipped up, the behavior we’re all too familiar with. Well, somewhere along by SMECO, the lady turned off. Pent up frustration apparently boiled over as the car rapidly accelerated, tailpipe buzzing. Of course by this time the speed limits increase to 40 or so, but I think that was a small percentage of the actual velocity attained by the little vehicle, and it disappeared around a corner far ahead of me. Then, when I finally got up to that bend, through the trees I saw flashing red and blue lights. Saint Patrick, thank you…have one on me…

And if you go out tonight, remember to be responsible (as they say) and


and at least keep them on...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Although I really don’t have much to relate, I guess one must post on the Ides of March. And speaking of dates, I find that there is some traction for calling yesterday “Pi Day”, I guess because it was 3/14. And just think what happens in 2015 when it will be 3-14-15! And here’s another date thingy for you. Somebody sent me a note that this July there will be 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. Okay, that’s neat. But then there was also the statement that this only happens every 823 years! (there’s always these kinds of statements somehow). Well, I haven’t given it too much thought, but I believe July will always have 31 days in it, so every time July 1st is a Friday we’ll get the triad. Seems to me that that might happen more often than 823 years. Of course it doesn’t matter anyhow because the Mayans say we won’t make it past next year anyway…

And even more stuff about dates, yesterday (3/14) was the fifth anniversary of the burning of the Lighthouse Restaurant on Solomons Island. Obviously it has not been replaced. Time has dulled the memories, but I remember a few good meals in there. I do remember they had this thing of pouring coffee by gradually lowering the hand with the cup and saucer while raising the hand with the pot, eventually causing a stream of about three feet. Funny what you remember..and then there was the bar that was a boat was a bar was a boat..

This daylight savings time is still killing me…it’s even hard to


PS, tonight is the so-called first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. What a joke. Teams that should be on the golf course are in the dance. You think this is being done for the student athletes, or maybe, just maybe, could it be for more TV revenue… you think? And now ESPN coverage is cut out entirely (except for the women’s side), so I guess (good or bad) no Vitale, no Jay Bilas (whom I really like), no Bobby Knight (ditto). Instead we get Charles Barkley? Excuse me? And oh yeah, until I looked I didn’t know TruTV existed. Sigh…

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Shortest Day of the Year....

No, it’s not December 22nd, it is the first day of daylight “savings time”. I don’t know about you, but I was a wreck all day yesterday. You wake up, mess around and boom! It’s one o’clock! Then about twenty minutes later it’s dinner time. They always talk about “losing an hour of sleep” how about a week of hell? Maybe it’s a function of advancing age, but I find it hard to adjust. Kind of like that traveling east or west kind of thing. I drive MFO nuts with comments like “well, it’s really only x o’clock”. The only positive I can think of is that cocktail hour comes around sooner…

The previous day was a busy one, MFO was involved with the genealogical stuff at the college, and I took the Momster to help move books for the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale. The objective is to move the mountain of accumulated books from the Leonardtown Library to the site of the sale at the fairgrounds. So the process starts with loading books (with help of younger folks with muscles)

Into the Momster

Then a short drive to the fairgrounds and back up to the proper building (fiction, non-fiction, childrens)

And unload

Repeat steps above until all the books are at the fairgrounds.

Then begins the sort and display tasks which will happen all this week and the sale opens to members only on Friday at one, with non-members welcome at ten on both weekend days. You can join at the door on Friday if you want that cherished first crack. You do, however have to stay out of the way of the commercial folks who are like sharks on a wounded fish. It’s quite a sight. Elbows fly, tubs fill indiscriminately, but it’s a quick bunch of bucks. Anyway, keep it in mind. There are a great selection of books, usually a lot of cook books as well as wine reference. And more damn Tom Clancy books than you knew were in print…

Meanwhile, MFO was engaged in helping people scan their records and stuff regarding churches in the area..

The day ended with us attending a gala down at the college to benefit the River Concert Series..probably the last black tie (at least for me) event of the year..

And back to miserable yesterday, having some basketball games to watch sort of provided an anesthesia of sort to pass the time. All leading up to “selection Sunday” wherein the (now) 68 (?) teams are anointed for participating in “the big dance”, which CBS has been hyping since the first basketball game in August “Welcome to the road to the final four!”. Never mind regular seasons, it’s all about the PLAYOFFS!. But, I’ve griped about that before. I was surprised (probably along with Tom Izzo) that the underperforming Spartans got their ticket punched. And, I’m not going into the furor about whether Va Tech, Colorado, etc., didn’t and UAB did. And I did notice that the Terps didn’t even get a bit to the JV tourney, the NIT..

Oh, and today started off with shaving from a mixing bowl of hot water from the stove, as the water heater packed it in yesterday. It’s always damn something..But, it will not deter me from making sure we are (even if a bit unkempt)


Friday, March 11, 2011

There is a God...

Today as I was guiding the flutter mobile into the gas depot to purchase product at $3.45 per unit, I noticed a local gendarme with lights flashing also turning after me into the driveway of the facility. I purchased my fuel and when I was leaving the arm of the law was still there, head down writing what I assumed was a ticket. And you know what? The car ahead of the officer was one of those annoying little black buzz cars, and (Yes!) atop the car was one of a little tent with the name of a locale Pizza purveyor. How many times has one of these people cut you off, passed you on the right, often laughing at the speed limit, or generally behaving poorly? Sometimes (not nearly enough) justice is served!! Oh, the name of the pizza seller? I probably shouldn’t say, but the owner prides himself as being “in the House!”

I did stop in today at our newest liquor/wine/beer store (Twist) in the location next to McDonald's across from San Souci since they were having a tasting. They are the second (?) occupant hoping to make a go of this particular type of retail store. Although they have been open for a while, I had not been there despite being on my daily route to the digs. There were quite a few cars in the lot, and once inside there were a fair amount of people, mostly gathered around two tables doling out tastings of beer and wine. The beer was a Shiner, and the wines were from Maryland's Linganore Winery which features a lot of (non-grape)fruit wines – plum, strawberry, raspberry, and so forth. I’m sorry, I’m busy. Anyway, the space is quite large with shelves along the walls, a couple rows of racks in the middle. In the back is a large refrigerated room, which I briefly visited and found it pretty much too cold to peruse the beer. A quick survey revealed a pretty nice selection of Maryland Beers such as Heavy Seas, and Flying Dog. Wines are currently kind of limited to “popular” brands, such as Yellow Tail, with maybe a Layer Cake here and there. A fair amount of Maryland wines are on the shelves. Spirits are also available. We’ll see how they grow..

Today’s edition of our local paper, the Enterprise, besides featuring a (much more professional than mine) front page photo from the Fat Tuesday Dinner that MFO and I attended (but first covered in this space!), has some options for your upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Our local leader of things Irish, D.B. McMillan’s, will feature Guinness and Irish Music. Festivities will start at 11:00. I may do that with my leisure time and increased appreciation of Guinness (since I’ve visited the brewery at St. James Gate, Dublin)…. The same issue features a description of Saphron which now occupies the spaces in Prince Frederick vacated by Old Field Inn, who’s chef now occupies the spaces in Leonardtown vacated by the (first administration of the) Front Porch which originally occupied the spaces vacated by Corbel’s.. got it?

The usual Friday “to do” list is a bit vacant this week, although you can look at aforesaid newspaper for some of those dinners by VFW’s and so on. No, wait! MFO informs me you can bring your “Church Life in Southern Maryland” memorabilia to the Building A of the Leonardtown Campus of the College of Southern Maryland. It’s an effort to preserve stuff in the Southern Maryland Studies Center. Or, if you’re in the mood to be helpful, you can show up at the Leonardtown Library at ten, and help move books over to the Fairgrounds for the County’s premier book sale on the weekend of the 18th..

for that, you need to be


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ho Hum....

Just another boring evening last night in the land where there isn’t anything to do.

We started out by meeting a friend at Courtney’s for dinner. I really don’t have anything much to say about Courtney’s that I haven’t said before. That’s because you can go there last week, last month, next month, next year, last year, and it will be the same. Same Bud Light Lime banners hanging from the ceiling, same tropical fish poster on the wall, nobody in the bar, tables in varying states of readiness, the same menu, and the same service. The same. And, that is the joy of the place. When our friend asked Tom if clam chowder was still available, he said “I’ll check” and went back to the bowling ball hot pot, checked and came back and said “there’s about three bowls left, and it’s the good stuff at the bottom!”. How can you not like that. When asked about the fish, we were told the rock fish is the best, and then a little story about how he has a license in Virginia which enables him to keep supplying fresh fish. So there was an order of fried and broiled, and I took the oyster platter. Good, says he, I shucked them fresh this morning.. we did get bowls of the chowder, and it was almost gone which meant it was also pretty glutinous but pepper helped that. MFO took the crab soup which was reported as spicy. After more conversation and watching other food come out (part of the expectation, so okay) our food eventually arrived. Once again, the same. Both rockfish dishes were cooked just right, the fried with a crispy batter yet creamy and moist inside, the broiled nicely displayed on a bed of a buttery sauce, but again the flavor of the fish was the star. It’s so rewarding when the main entree need no help. My oysters were plump and cooked just enough to let the batter crisp while the oysters remained tender inside. Presented on a nice bed of lettuce and maybe some home made cocktail sauce. Very enjoyable, tasty food in a "just right" setting. Be sure to go, despite our wishes nothing is forever (as much as we may wish it so)..

After that, we high tailed it up the road to the college and Cole Cinema and barely made it in the door for the movie “Fresh presented by the Maryland Department of the Humanities. The film took a look at food production in America, from the “mass produced” feed lots, pig farms, poultry factories that produce thousands of “products” on a single farm, to the newer (and really older) “sustainable” and organic farm approach to farming that are gaining traction. The film was pretty one sided in favor of the latter approach with many clips of farmers who do (for want of a better term) natural farming, involving rotating pasturing for beef, letting them eat grasses instead of feeding them grain, free ranging chickens, pigs, etc.. This was contrasted against pictures of unbelievable numbers of chickens (cows, pigs), all jammed into close quarters, feeding on antibiotic laden “unnatural” feeds etc. There are two sides to every issue, like can the (relatively) smaller farms “feed the world”?. Being on the side of nutritious and flavorful food (those “natural” pork chops had actual fat in them….imagine that) the approach more aligned by how nature wants its creatures cared for seems best. There was interesting discussions after the meeting with a lot of (to us) “young people” involvement. This is good…Buy Local...

Anyway an evening of food for the body AND soul. What more can you ask for down here in Godforsaken Southern Maryland.

Watch out for the flooding today, and when evening comes,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Large Tuesday..

In the never ending quest to experience “real” food and culture, MFO and I went to the “Fat Tuesday” dinner last night at one of the local historic churches.

I have to admit I was intrigued by the “New Orleans Style” tag line. Somehow to me, Pancakes are a morning dish, not a supper item so something other than those were another draw for us. As I have mentioned upon other occasions, these kinds of things are not Sysco truck food, but things usually made in the kitchen of the social hall by the “church ladies” (which includes the gentleman of course). We found a spot to park, and followed the elaborate signage

and purchased tickets at the table which was decorated for a Mardi Gras theme

Turns out that you made a choice between the “traditional” Fat Tuesday dinner of pancakes, sausage and applesauce, or the New Orleans Style which included jambalaya, a salad, and bread pudding..we of course got one of each.

Prior to sitting down to eat, I was admitted to the kitchen (press pass) and was able to get some shots of the food being prepared. It’s always fun to be in any kitchen, and all the “volunteers” were having a great time trying to keep up with the demand “I need 2 cakes, and 3 jambalayas!” scramble, scramble, but all in good fun. I started on the traditional side, seeing the “batter guy” at work with a rather messy job

Which were then transformed into the cakes

And when ready to be plated, the sausage was added

and it was ready to go out.

The New Orleans line started with the jambalaya from the pre-made pan

And then the bread pudding was added

And with the addition of the salad, it was ready to be served. Having seen the process, we picked a table in the hall. Seating in the room was around big tables so you got to meet some folks and chat during dinner. Of course a lot of the diners were church members so it was a pretty friendly crowd. Community getting together with food as a convener is always fun. Service was provided by the church people so was enthusiastically taken care of..(no names given!!) they brought your drinks and cleaned the plates.

Here’s my Big Easy style

And MFO beat me to the punch with her pancakes before I could get a “plate” shot…but you get the idea..

So it was a good evening of neighbors and friends gathering around food. As for the food itself, it was good, solid sort of homemade. The jambalaya was a bit sticky for my tastes, but did have nice sausage and real hunks of chicken in it. The bread pudding was quite tasty..what a nice place to live…

Quick buzz:

It appears as it appears… Lone Star has folded its doors. Depending on what happens at Damon’s, that’s two chains that have fallen victim of……location? There is pretty good lunch business in “the Park”, but dinner? Not so much. A stringer reports that lunch at IHOP (after finding LS closed) was less than satisfying… chicken fried steak please… “Sorry we’re out” alternative selection of eggs, sausage, and potatoes was okay, and when biscuits were selected from toast or biscuits, they were out also. There are times when certain menu items are unavailable for whatever reason, but why can’t they tell you up front? Before you order sir, I have to tell you we’re out of chicken fried steak and biscuits. Instead, “maybe they won’t ask”.

Quick to do:

Tonight at Cole cinema (8pm, SMCM) is that movie “Fresh” about food production plus a discussion to follow. No charge..

And we plan to attend with perhaps a "pre theater" dinner at Courtney's, where there’s not much pressure to


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Muddling Monday, and Large Tuesday...

Muddling Part:

Yesterday I went down to St. Mary’s College to attend a faculty seminar entitled: ““Last Minute Date Raptures” Cookies, Transcendence, and Poetry”. It was presented by Karen Anderson, a member of the faculty in the English Department. Hey, anything with food in the title attracts my attention. So I settled into the (old) back row in the Glendenning Annex. I think there were approximately 30 people there between (I think) faculty and students, with the preponderance of students. I listened hard, and took notes where I could for approximately the hour of the presentation and questions. And, after all that time I will freely admit that I pretty much have no idea what she was talking about. In fact, I’m a little reluctant to speculate because I probably will be so far off the mark and maybe in the process expose myself to ridicule (mercifully, the chances of anybody there seeing this are pretty slim to non-existent). However, as near as I could figure out, she was talking about how early cookbooks (late 19th and early 20th) and recipes denigrated the “housewife” and “housekeeping” in general, and reflected the attitude that women weren’t organized enough (or capable?) enough to perform the tasks. So, they were filled with "how to's" and helps. She presented a page from the first (?) Betty Crocker cookbook called “Special Helps”, which led off with a poem:

If you’re tired from overwork,
Household chores you’re bound to shirk.
Read these pointers tried and true
And discover what to do.

Then there were several little boxes with “tips”, like: Harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make every task lighter and pleasanter; or: Do head work while you’re dusting, sweeping, washing dishes, paring potatoes, etc. Plan family recreation, the garden, etc. She then went on I suppose on how this relates to society, worked in some Dickenson poetry about housework and domestic work which she analyzed, using terms like “watcher” and “doer”. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue. Then she read a few poems of her own, which I believe will be published in a little volume called “receipts”, the historic term for recipes.. She even talked about those words and their deeper meanings…Most of her poems were free verse (I think that's the term), but again, they sort of went over my head. No mental images invoked...

I guess I was in the distinct minority because most of the audience (especially the faculty) listened with half closed eyes, nodding knowingly at points, with little “know it all” smiles. During the Q&A session, one person mentioned Cook’s Illustrated as an example of “we’ve done all the research, and here’s the best way, you don’t have to think”. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it in those terms. At the end, I was kind of bummed out. Not sure why. But it was an interesting hour or so. Just another lesson in how little you know about some things..

back to food!

On more familiar ground, today is “Fat Tuesday” (Mardi Gras) the last day when you can indulge in excess before the rules of Lent kick in tomorrow (Ash Wednesday) and last until Easter. One of those occasions where I’m sort of glad I’m not religious. Every day is Fat Tuesday! Anyhow, most of the Churches around here hold dinners, announced by hand painted signs stuck in the ground by the road. Lots of pancakes featured. One of the local Churches not far from us also had a tag line: “New Orleans Food”, which could mean anything. At any rate that’s where MFO and I will be going, and I’m taking along the trusty Canon so there might be a story tomorrow…not sure what is appropriate, but we will attempt to be


Rest well, Buddy (FOJTE's family pet and companion of many years)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Wamblings..

I think the economy must be recovering.. yesterday the line at Starbuck’s was back to the end of the counter, with the usual crowd awaiting their triple foam, soy double shot, extra hot, hazelnut macchiato (whatever the heck that is). Being Sunday, I toughed that out and then decided that a bagel and a cream cheese Danish might be nice so veered into Panera. Line was literally into the foyer to get into the place. No thanks. On the way back to the digs, I noticed Dunkin’ so veered across three lanes and went in there only to find another line, but with three people working the counter it went fairly fast. $3.45/gallon for gas? No problem, just pass the crullers..

And, at the risk of another round of “welcome to the party, stupid” we also went into BJ’s so MFO could get some bulk cookies for an upcoming historical function. We eventually wandered around to the meat section, and I was impressed by the variety of meats and cuts available. Sure enough, you could by a half of a steer, but there are also many selections of a few pieces of beef, veal, pork, poultry, in lots of different cuts. Short ribs, veal cutlets, chicken in something other than boneless, skinless pieces, legs of lamb or chops, ready cut filets of beef, and so on. We got some fairly nice pork chops (can you find any with actual fat marbling anymore?) which I grilled with apple smoke chips. And, I believe that there is a human that will actually cut some meat for you if you want thicker steaks. Who woulda thunk.

And yet another publication crossed our door, a little magazine called “Imbibe” which is all about, well, drinking. Many articles on boutique beers, cocktails, spirits, wine, coffee, teas, etc. This issue was “the Southern Issue” concentrating on the “south” which includes Texas and Virgina, but no mention of Maryland. Very trendy, the “south” these days. Anyhow there was a pretty informative article about “bourbon” with some very nice photography and the history of the drink along with the recent resurgence of popularity. Their glossary contained some interesting entries: “X” years old – if the bottle bears an age statement, that’s the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle; Special Reserve or Family Reserve or Reserve – Sounds nice don’t they? That’s their only function, this term may be safely ignored; Old Special or Old – see “special reserve”. Anyway, it’s a down to earth article. There’s a time line on the bottom of the pages and there are names like Hayden who settled in Bardstown, KY. MFO informs me that a large number of people who left St. Mary’s County settled in Bardstown. There is also a nice little Q&A column with John T. Edge, the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, a group dedicated to the food and culture of the south.

And lastly, somebody sent me a link to a film clip of Julia Child making an omelet. In these days of celebrity chefs (Bobby Flay has a new reality show about the next big restaurant and appears on the cover of the Wash Post TV guide for God’s sake) it is pleasing to watch. I include it for your viewing pleasure. Not so much about the chef as about really teaching about food. Refreshing…

and we finished the weekend by attending the Spring Concert of COSMIC, our local orchestra. Nice as always to hear real music. came home through driving rain, but was rewarded for our harrowing drive with a DMOTRWAT before we got


Friday, March 4, 2011

Done, Dining, and To Do...

Well, before we rocket all over the place with this and that’s, I have to report that “TV Guy” eventually showed up, and I now have a new (?) Motorola DVR replacing the suspect “Pace Box”. And, last night the TV froze on me again. More to come…

Anyway in no particular order, off we go!

I swore to myself I wouldn’t report on the “Piano Talk” yesterday at the College, I’ve done that so often that readers are probably tired of it. Well, I can’t help it. Yesterday’s edition was not only the ubiquitous Brian Ganz, but Beverley Babcock who usually does the orchestration part (see, I’m learning) who also played some solo pieces. Very nice to hear. And, although we’ve pretty much had a Chopin diet lately, this one featured the music of Edvard Greig, namely the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, and some “Lyric Pieces” (7 plus a repeat). It goes without saying that the music was great, although the Concerto was a bit “crashy” for neophyte me. I did very much enjoy the Arietta, Op. 12, No. 1. Treated so delicately by Brian, a lovely piece. But, that’s not why I’m writing….As Yogi would say, “you can see a lot just by looking”. These concerts are such a great community event; they bring together all sorts of people from the college and the community, and sometimes the audience is as much a show as the musicians. Shortly before the concert began, three young ladies arrived with a little red headed boy (4 or 5?). While the young ladies enjoyed the music, the kid was being, well, a kid. Back and forth along the aisle, out in the back, up and down, all over the place. Shusshing by the ladies had no effect. He wasn’t loud or anything, just being a kid, but it was distracting. Eventually, “Mom” arrived and reigned in the young lad who settled down. I always wonder why people bring youngsters to things like this, hopefully out of necessity rather than choice. Or, there was the college kid (my term) who had his right leg propped over his left knee and used his thigh as a keyboard, fingering along with the music. And, at one point there was an aroma of food wafting over me. Hmmmm, I thought, must be the wind direction. Nope, it was a lady student a couple of aisles over, enjoying a Chick Fil A… So, there’s more to the music to enjoy. As I have reiterated over and over (I think that’s redundant), if you can spare an hour in the middle of the day, and have even a passing interest in classical piano, it’s time well spent. Yesterday was sort of like you sitting in a living room with Brian and Beverly, chatting about the music and enjoying hearing them play..

And, before veering back into more familiar foodie territory, a quick note about my recent ear surgery (Oh noo! He’s not going to get graphic is he?). As you might remember this was a “Moh’s” procedure which involves scraping, analyzing, scraping again, repeat until done. And, my last adventure on the right ear took three cycles and a skin graft to complete the job, so I wasn’t looking forward much for a repeat of that. So I went into the office expecting the worst (so you’re not disappointed). The surgeon who specializes in this stuff turned out to be a grad from the Naval Academy (just celebrated his 15th year reunion) and still serves. I was called “sir” a lot. He was a great guy, and I enjoyed talking to him about flight test, Pax River, F-18’s and stuff. Of course he was a medical guy, not an aviator, but of course being in the Navy you can’t avoid it. So, after I got the first scrape and waited the requisite 40 minutes or so I was eventually called back in for “the results”. When I got back in the room and he returned, he just smiled and said “One Shot, One Kill” (a time honored fighter pilot phrase), and I was released. Apparently he didn’t keep his head in medical books all the time!!

Foodie Section

Not a whole lot here, and once again, here’s a repeat. You recall that I found that “Charleston” was rated number one (by Baltimore Magazine) for Baltimore fine dining. Well, I just got Issue 198 of the Wine Avocate, published by Robert M. Parker, the iconic wine critic who can drive the industry. It’s that little publication that lets you know that there’s a hundred point wine that you will never see let alone taste. But, I also will admit there are reviews of wines that we can access, for instance in this issue he “reviews” Northern California which includes products from Kendall Jackson, Dehlinger, Kalin Cellers, Ridge, Ch. St. Jean, and other familiar wineries. Occasionally in the back there are articles about “memorable meals”, recounting special events and tastings that he and other contributors attend. For instance, there is a report of a meal at Del Posto Ristorante in New York attended by Antonio Galloni who is on his staff. It was a 7 course dinner and it lists a staggering 36 wines they tasted. Hopefully they spit (a technique to avoid passing out) some. Anyway, another dinner was attended by none other than “the man” at….(wait for it….) Charleston in Baltimore! This was a 6 course meal plus cheese and dessert affair, and “only” 18 wines. However, it contained a ’96 Ch. Lafite Rothschlid, a ’90 Cheval Blanc, and a 90 Ch. Petrus. Which wine folks might recognize. Besides the (legendary) Bordeaux wines were domestics such as ‘02 Screaming Eagle and ’97 Harlan Estates cabs, both 100 point wines (In his opinion). However, comma, what I really wanted to relate was his comments about the food..”Cindy Wolf’s cuisine was, as usual, sensational with every dish a terrific success”. He goes on to recount the menu which I won’t repeat here (“unbelievable version of her Beef Wellington with Ubrian Truffles and seared Foie Gras in puff pastry”, etc.) He concludes by saying Cindy is the best chef in Baltimore and her restaurant is known for “impeccable attention to detail and service”.

Which is a good springboard to paraphrase a couple of stringer reports on our local La Tabella. While most people call the food “acceptable” what is reported are those annoying flat screens and Keno boards in full view and hearing, and another mentioned that despite having a reservation, they were seated at a table with no silverware or glassware. Plus the server’s dress was not exactly DFD: “food stains everywhere, hair in disarray”. As I’ve said many times, food can carry you only so far, and what you walk away with is that word “experience”. Hopefully they can tighten up the operation bit…

TO DO section

Obviously tonight is “First Friday” in Leonardtown, and the Calvert Marine Museum offers free admission throughout the day. In Leonardtown, most of the usual haunts will have music or tastings, and generally social frivolity..

COSMIC’s spring concert will be tomorrow night in Great Mills High School (7pm; $10); or 4pm on Sunday at Huntingtown High School. A great incubator for musicians of tomorrow.

A little heads up for next week. On Wednesday, there will be a movie in the Cole Cinema at St. Mary's College called “Fresh” A film celebrating the farmers, business people and other individuals who are “reinventing the food system’. A representative of the SOMD agricultural development commission will lead a post move discussion. Starts at 8pm, no charge.

A longer range heads up, the Friends of the Library annual book sale (see today’s Enterprise B section) will open two weeks for members only (hint, hint) with all others free on the weekend.

So wherever you land, make sure you are


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TV's and Time on my Hands....

So, here I sits…

When I took advantage of a post “Black Friday” sale and got a second HDTV to be up in the loft, I of course had to get a DVR instead of the “regular” cable box I had there for the CRT Sony. There is nothing that can’t be made cheaper and chintzier, so the “new” box was made by Pace while the old one (with zero trouble for over three years) was a Motorola. Soon after hooking it up we began to have trouble with the system. You’d switch it to ESPNHD and it would freeze the picture on the current channel, pause a bit, and go to black. Sometimes you could channel up and back and it would work. Sometimes when you turn it on it would just have a frozen picture. This resulted in several phone calls to the Metrocast Tech line, and always with a “reset” of the system, it would come back. Then maybe it would behave for a couple of days or a week, and then black. Call, fix. Call, fix. One of the people on the other end of the phone agreed and said “we get a lot of troubles with the Pace boxes”. So we limped along until last weekend when I could get virtually nothing on the HD end, and accepted the offer of a tech coming out to “check the system”, and replace the box. Okay, how about next Monday (yesterday) no, that didn’t work for me. Well, how about Tuesday (today) then? Yes, that’s fine. “Okay, we’ll have a tech out there between sunup and sundown”. Not really, it was more like “for your convenience we can schedule around you. Would morning or afternoon be best?” How about ten in the morning? “Good, he’ll be there between nine and one”. Knowing I was doomed I said not closer than that? Long string of “don’t know how long jobs take, geographical issues, yadda yadda.” So……here I sits.

Which, allows me to burden you with a few snippets..

Chains: I see that Damon’s has still not reopened from their fire two (three?) weeks ago. In fact, I’ve heard some buzz that “management” is considering NOT reopening. I suppose we won’t be that fortunate.

Service: The other night, after returning from the nice little reception down at Historic St. Mary’s city, we decided to have a pizza to watch a Holmes episode, and maybe just a little bit of the Oscars. Since it’s convenient, cheap, and close, we phoned in an order to CiCi’s. We did our standard order of “large, all pepperoni, half mushroom, and half black olive” Okay sir, that’s a large pepperoni, half mushroom and black olive. “check”. Ready in ten minutes. Fine. So I launch in the car in about five, get to the store (after paying three minute homage to the demons in the light at 235/millstone landing), the pizza is waiting (how do they do that?). Get it home, fire up the pizza stone in the oven (much improves the fast food pizza), open the box, to discover: large pizza – all pepperoni, half mushroom, half olive – on SAME SIDE. Sigh…

Restaurant Ratings: The latest issue of Baltimore Magazine was in my mail box yesterday, with the banner proclaiming “67 Best Restaurants”. We’ll defer the discussion of obsession with “Best” and the apparent American desire to know “who’s number one?”. No need to have taste, all you do is look at somebody’s list and the pressure is off. “It has to be good, it’s number one!”. Whew, sorry. Anyway, their twist is that they decided to rank the restaurants in categories so as not to try to compare restaurants that have markedly different cuisines. Not a bad idea. One of the categories is “Fine Dining”, so with some trepidation, I turned to that list, and guess what? The number one (in somebody’s collective opinion) fine dining restaurant in Baltimore is………Charleston!! Alert readers will remember me waxing eloquent about our meal there recently. And, not only that, here’s a short quote from the review: “The two or three elements in each dish are chosen with such care that you’re inclined to try them separately, then together, and once again to savor each texture and taste”. Hmmm, seems to me the Feeder had much the same comment. They must have been reading the Bottom Feeder….Anyway while certainly not infallible; these kinds of lists provide you with a guide against which you should measure your own tastes. Just so happens they liked mine!!

waiting for that doorbell to ring..