Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday...

Well, here it is Friday, where I usually devote space to what’s going on in the land of Nothing to Do, but after today you will note (I think) these pages to go dark for the weekend because I’m about to leave to attend a district conference for our Rotary Club. It will be “interesting” to say the least. I’ll keep notes, and I’ve grabbed the camera.

But, I do want to relate a good experience MFO and I had last night. She had several historical associated meetings today and so arrived home hungry and nicely turned out. We waffled around a bit and finally decided to drive over the bridge and see what struck us. The Dry Dock was of course in my mind, but we instead opted to check out the back door at CD café.

Despite the usual cars lined up along street parking we were able to rest the Flutter Mobile in the surprisingly vacant parking lot behind the building. We were pleased to see that the “back door” was pretty much unoccupied and took a couple of seats at the bar. As an aside here, sitting at the bar in any venue that offers that option is generally rewarding.

After a skirmish with the Dry Manhattan, on the rocks with a twist, initially delivered with sweet vermouth, a cherry, and an eventual apology, the drink was successfully remade and served. And, after assuring the bar keep that the Gimlet was Gin, not Vodka, we were both satisfied. My mission is to make sure all bartenders in the county can make my dry manhattan.

Turning to the menu there are twenty two options for entrees. Pretty much any inclination can be accommodated, vegetarian, carnivore, salad, sandwich, it’s all there.

I ended up with a shrimp pancetta pasta dish, and MFO took the crusted catfish salad. Both were quite good. We were surprised and pleased to see Terry pop out of the kitchen to say hello. He’s another one of those chefs who just stay out of sight and do their job. I believe he started out at Guido’s in Lusby, did a stint at the Dry Dock and now has been here for a number of years.

By sitting at the bar, you always have a built in conversationalist, and we found out that the young (to us) lady keeping the bar has a historic home out near Morganza. So nice to see younger people with a sense of history.

Anyway it was a very pleasant evening that sort of came out of the blue. That’s the best kind. I would put the back door at the CD on your list, especially if it isn’t very crowded. Not much of a view, but fairly cozy and good things come out of the kitchen to your table or copper topped bar.


Other..

Blue Wind Gourmet is featured in this week’s Weekend section of the newspaper.

Celtic Festival weekend for all you wanna be Druids.

Larry Wilmore will close out Mark Twain Year (100th anniversary of death) with a program in the Gym at St. Mary’s College this evening.. free at eight. He’s a comedy writer so I’m told.

Plant sale and exchange tomorrow at Sotterley Plantation.

And although I would rather not tell you because you might take my seat, there will be a concert by the St. Mary’s college Chamber Singers in “my” chapel down at St. Mary’s City on Sunday night at 7.

And here I go

DFC(onference)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Touring the Low Country.... Sort of...

Finally the stars aligned and allowed me to have a convenient chance to try Saphron in Prince Frederick. A friend and I decided to attend a presentation by the state tourism folks in Prince Freddie, and it was slated to end at noon, so lunch was a natural. Plus the event was very close to the restaurant. Done deal.

The tourism thing was interesting for a while, lots of figures and facts, almost 30 million visitors to the state and Southern Maryland (tri county) brings in around $500 million. A big draw for this area is listed as “water”, meaning fishing, boating, and crabs. Surveys indicate that the top reasons given for visiting Maryland are dining and shopping. Many initiatives on the horizon with celebrations and events for the War of 1812, the Civil War, Star Spangled Banner, Harriet Tubman underground rail road. Stay tuned..

As the presenters warmed to their subjects, the clock passed noon easily and so we sort of slid out the back door, and headed for the restaurant. As we drove a little south on Main Street, my friend said “Here it is -- Turn in!”. This can’t be it, I replied, it’s in a wooded area. Well, that revealed how long it has been since I’ve visited the place. What used to be a lovely old Victorian house set against oaks and woodlands is now a lovely old Victorian house set amongst… condos and office buildings. However, once you enter through the screened in porch (where dining is possible when weather permits), it really doesn’t matter what’s around the outside. The inside is lovely, done befitting a stately old mansion. Walls are done in soft warm tones (our room was a deep burgundy) with nicely understated wall decorations, window treatments, and tables covered in crisp white linens with black napkins and placemats. All reminiscent of the departed Brome Howard Inn. The chairs at the tables would meet with approval from MFO (who is very particular) as they are very comfortable kind of woven fabric with blacks and whites. A vase of (real) fresh flowers were placed on the tables, very inviting. As you may remember, Saphron moved in when Old Field Inn moved out, and they carried their “Low Country” theme with them. The décor and setting did remind me of Charleston. Very comfortable.

As we entered the porch, there was a white board with some of today’s offerings on it, a couple of “Po-Boys”, something called “16 Bean Soup”, and a couple of other things, all of which I of course forgot by the time we were seated. We were offered menus which were very attractive, small enough to handle and easy to read. They were printed for lunch service, with choices of three starters (plus the specials), nine entrees, some sides and desserts. Prices were reasonable, with starters under ten, and entrees under fifteen. On the dessert menu, fortunately the “$10,000,000 Bread Pudding” (a low country must) sells for only a millionth of that. The menu contained appropriate dishes, a gumbo, a pulled pork sandwich, shrimp and grits, a catfish Po-boy, along with a burger and a very tasty sounding grilled cheese sandwich. But of course the first thing we reached for was the wine list. As we were looking over that, the server approached and said that their wine delivery had been delayed and she was not sure what they actually had available, but she would go check. Upon returning she informed us they had William Hill Chardonnay, and “That stuff I can never pronounce….Vi-og (hard g) something”. I suggested it might be Viognier, and she said “yes! That’s it, thanks!”. So we ordered a glass of that, which was quite pleasant. I am becoming a fan of Viognier, especially for lunch time or afternoon sipping.

The wine was delivered (in nice large glasses) with another practice of the pronunciation, and we sipped and let the tourism slide from our minds, helped by the peaceful setting. We eventually settled on a house salad and the catfish poor boy, and I had the Caesar salad, and the Low Country Gumbo (Shrimp, Sausage, Okra, served on rice pilaf). After a bit more sipping and talking the salads arrived in nicely shaped bowls (can a bowl be square?), obviously fresh greens and dressed.

But, here I go again. If a salad is listed as “Caesar” the issue of Anchovies MUST be addressed. It’s part of the salad. It’s like serving Eggs Benedict with Mayonnaise. I know some people don’t like anchovies draped over top, but the menu should say something like “anchovies upon request”, or at least “our anchovy based dressing”. The greens were Romaine, nicely cut into bitable size pieces, but there was not a hint of anchovy to be found. A check of the menu described it as: “Crisp romaine lettuce, parmesan croutons, Saphron’s homemade parmesan dressing”, so maybe I got what I deserved. If that is the case, call it something else.

As we were finishing the salads (with me finally calming down) the entrees arrived. The catfish was a sizable piece of fish on a suitable roll (probably a bit larger than the New Orleans version) with lettuce and a sauce, sided by some lovely red cabbage slaw, and house made potato crisps that looked a lot like skin on fries. My gumbo was served in a large (round) soup dish, the rice mounded in the middle with some wilted greens on top, and six largish shrimp at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 o’clock, with a good brown roux based sauce that was almost walnut in color. There were a few slices of sausage in there, but mostly shrimp. The dish had just a bit too much heat for me, (but only barely) and by eating with the rice it was fine and I was able to finish it all. This of course is subjective and I’m sure the majority of people who order this dish are quite satisfied, it's just me. There wasn't enough spice to overcome the taste of the ingredients, just a punctuation. It was very tasty. After re-locating our server, another glass of the V wine was procured.

Along the way the owner, who was acquainted with my friend, stopped by to chat. Things were going well in the “new” spaces, which is good news. She is a charming lady. With all the food, we eschewed dessert although I will return and eventually try the bread pudding. It is, after all, a hallmark of any restaurant based on Southern cuisine. Despite a couple of hiccups (I do think staff should know the wines, the landscaping outside could use some work before long, and maybe some tip of the hat to those anchovies - either in words or substance) it was a very enjoyable experience. I would like to return for dinner (which has a much more expanded menu). The food is good. And by the way, they have a lovely bar, .

And also by the way, we were indeed

DFL(unch)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Driver Training

Warning: the following contains material that could be classified as an out and out rant

Long time readers will recall that I often refer to the demons that have long occupied the street lights at “my corner” of Millstone Landing Road and route 235. They keep very good track of my position and always arrange to turn the light red just as I approach the intersection. Then of course they go into a coma and don’t awake until ten or so cars pile up waiting to turn, a period sometimes approaching three minutes. Do you know how long three minutes in a car can be? Unless of course you decide to (illegally) check your text/emails in which case it immediately turns green.

So lately, it became apparent to me that I have fallen into a pattern of arriving just as the cars start streaming out of San Souci, signaling the start of the interminable wait. With my keen analytical mind honed by many years of engineering experience, I tried to apply acute powers of observation for this phenomenon and figure out why. It’s just probability, right? Okay, here’s a synopsis of the data. EVERY (well, seemingly) time I round the bend to observe the light, I see cars coming out of San Souci. It gets so that I can tell MFO, okay get ready, and she pooh pooh’s me only to see that it is true an astonishingly high percentage of the time. There have been several times when after starting from the digs, I will forget something and return. Or, along the way, I see a neighbor and will stop to chat a minute. Sometimes, I slow down to make sure that dog doesn’t dart out in front of me, and INVARIABLY I will arrive to see the cars streaming out. What if I hadn’t done any of these things? The only explanation is that there are demons there with supernatural powers that have it in for me.

And, if that isn’t enough a new aggravation has turned up. Those familiar with the area know they have recently installed another light just south of the fateful intersection, allegedly to facilitate cars being able to turn left into WaWa so they can put a house payment’s worth of fuel into their cars. Anyway, the traffic gods have programmed the system such that after you are finally allowed to turn left out of Millstone, you get about half way to that light, and “blink!” it goes yellow. So, you wait again. Besides allowing left turns into WaWa, the light will let north bound traffic cross 235 into Buck Hewitt Road. The light will let anybody that is within visual range of the light to do that. So, another chance to do that email…

And, okay since I’m wound up, here’s another. I have sort of developed a habit of getting a Starbucks in the morning, so I am there a fair amount. In order to go south on 235 from the lot (a story within itself) you must enter 235 via the lane that eventually leads you into First Colony. If you are at all a capable driver and pick your spots, you can enter that lane, and again watching, fairly easily get into the right traffic lane. I of course have to navigate two more lanes by the time I get to Millstone (you still with me?). Well, yesterday I observed the following. The car ahead of me was waiting to turn south, and it was fairly light traffic. In fact that first lane was completely clear as far as one could see. Did he turn into that? Nope. He waited until all southbound lanes were clear (from the light at Rte. 4), then slowly slid into the first lane, put left blinker on, and cruised into the first real traffic lane. About three car lengths later, right signal comes on and back into the turn lane for First Colony. You can’t make this stuff up..

Whew, okay I feel better now (not that the demons care)..

FOOD CONTENT:

Today, I had an opportunity to finally take a meal at the transplanted Saphron, now located in the space that formally housed the Old Field Inn. Since I’m all worked up about traffic we won’t try to do that until tomorrow.

except to confirm that I was

DFL(unch)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eggs stracting a good time!

Those celebrating Easter yesterday were greeted with blue skies and warming temperatures. We had a fairly busy day, all in all. I started it out by going over to Leonardtown to see the revival of an early tradition, the Easter Egg Hunt on the lawn of the Sterling House. Of course it is now home to the Front Porch restaurant, and the owners want to establish more links to its historic past, so this was part of that effort. Their plan was to have two “hunts”, one for the younger crowd and another for the six and older set (no, i didn't participate!). I arrived via the side of the house to be used for the little people and it was apparent that “hunt” was a relative term.



The eggs were not exactly concealed



But the idea was fun, not rooting around in the undergrowth. And, the hosts for the event didn’t neglect the adults, as they provided refreshments in the form of little pastries, coffee, tea, and other appropriate libations.



Which were turned into Mimosas upon request which went well with the warming temperatures.

Decorations used tulips that were trying to awaken





As the time neared to begin the hunt, little bags were made available for the hunt crowd to use in gathering the prizes



And even the easter bunny made an appearance much to the delight of the little kids, who seemingly all wanted to touch his ears. I am not sure of a tradition here or not.



Another feature was that in each hunting area there was concealed a “golden egg” which contained a special prize. For that egg, a little more care was taken in selecting it’s hiding place.



But finally it was time to start and all the kids lined up for the countdown



And the hunt was on!



It was an exciting time and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves, including the winner of the Golden Egg!



Hopefully this nice local event will become another Tradition.

Back Home

For dinner we decided we would resurrect (!) a rack of lamb that had been slumbering in the freezer for quite a while, so I prepared a marinade of garlic, rosemary and olive oil.



And MFO prepared some root vegetables for roasting.



And began with appropriate (probably not very traditional) starters.



We had a lovely time with some good friends, just chatting and enjoying the food. I will, however have to bare my soul and admit the lamb was cooked longer than I had hoped. It turned out “medium” at best. Sigh.. But, as I always say, it could have been burnt and we still would have had a great time. I took a chance and opened a Virginia (eastern shore) red table wine. It was very good, but not over the top.

Okay, enough for today, maybe another look at the MOMSTER and some spring nostalgia that sprung (ha ha)to mind the other day.

Oh yeah, even for medium lamb we were indeed

DFD

Friday, April 22, 2011

MOMSTER Final Curtain....

No, it’s not what you’re thinking (although maybe that would be the best solution), it’s just that you get caught in your own metaphor..

Third Act:

Hearing nothing all day, we called the dealer late in the afternoon and initially they had no idea if the MOMSTER was done or not. But after “checking” they said yes, it was finished, just bring buckets of money. So we got in the flutter mobile and headed over to Leonardtown.

Well, the steering wheel be connected to the upper shaft which be connected to the lower shaft which be connected to some gear box, etc. Except the MOMSTER , which in this case the upper shaft was NOT connected to the lower shaft, allowing the steering wheel to be free. At least that’s the story we got from the service manager. He had never heard of this before and said he was sure it would never happen again. While not very satisfying, it’s probably true – at least the never heard of it part, and we all really, really, hope it will never happen again. Some have said I should have demanded to see the parts removed, but I didn’t pursue that, I’m sure they could have showed me something. So, after MFO wrote the check in one point font to make all those words fit on the “amount” line of the check, she climbed in and did a little road test before heading home. She reported that it was much tighter than it had been previously. And we earnestly hope that this is the final act..just another reason to drive newer cars… maybe.

Final Curtain.

Good Friday/Easter To Do

Although it seemed that every day this past week was “Earth Day”, apparently today (4/22) is the real deal. Slack Winery is having a free event from 4 to 8 today where you can do stuff like meet an oyster rancher (git along, little spat, git alooong), paddle a kayak, hear live music and I’ll bet sample some wines.

Of course there are many Church services, and I also note that there is a Texas Hold’em tournament today. Seems kind of incongruous, but hey! worship how you want to..

Tomorrow will be the annual BOCC Easter Festival, along with Parks and Rec, held at Leonardtown Hall, and there are various Egg hunts. Guess the BOCC will let you find the eggs, and then Tuesday explain how there won’t be so many eggs in the county budget basket this year..

And, Easter Sunday will find of course more services, and there will be a revival of an event that was historically held at the Sterling House in Leonardtown (now home of the Front Porch Restaurant). It will be an Easter Egg hunt for kids (two age groups), with prizes, golden eggs, etc. It appears there might be Mimosa’s for the parents.

Foodie thoughts on Easter:

Easter Dinner is another one of those “traditional” dinners that will bring you back to your childhood (which is quite a journey for me!). First thing you did when you woke up was to have your Easter egg hunt in the house. Sometimes jelly bean trails led you to the prizes, and sometimes you had to hunt on your own, usually with parental help toward the end – “maybe you should look around the fireplace!”. And when you found the egg, it was a real egg, not some plastic thing that is jointed in the middle. Hard boiled of course, and maybe colored by you the previous day using multiple cups of bright liquids and those little twisted wire egg holders in the kit by Paas... And maybe along the way a box of peeps, or a Cadbury egg. Of course there would be hot crossed buns for breakfast.

Dinner (in our neck of the woods in Michigan) most always was ham, cooked until it was dry, or else coated with some glossy glaze that would make Super Glue proud. Yams/Sweet Potatoes we won’t debate that here, maybe a spring green salad, and I never remember if green beans were part of the mix (or is that Thanksgiving?). Sometimes for dessert would be a chocolate cake with white coconut frosting and maybe a plastic green grass nest for jelly beans..

Of course today, with the Food Channel mania of celebrity chefs, there is a plethora of upscale “cheffy” Easter menus thrown at you now: Pepita encrusted marinated rack of lamb with mint pesto sauce; Hoisin glazed root vegetable tart; spring greens with roasted beet and crispy shallots; you name it. Arguments over the proper wines, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot, soft or hard, goat or milk cheese, ee hah.

But when it comes down to it, whatever and however you cook it, the food serves to bring us together family and friends, a time to remember those who you used to gather with on Easter, or who are far away in lands that do not celebrate Easter. Just be together and enjoy each other. As a friend of mine says: “There is no guarantee of tomorrow”.

And yes, of course you have to

DFD

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MOMSTER Drama Continues...

Well, the intermission between the second and third act is a bit longer than hoped for. Since the MOMSTER arrived sort of unannounced, it naturally had to wait its place in line. We finally got a call yesterday informing us that “a bolt was missing, and the upper and lower steering rods were bent, and should be replaced, along with some airbag stuff”. The estimated cost for all this was staggering, plus of course parts had to be ordered. They promised that we should have the car today. As of this writing (around 1400 local time) there has been no update.

So what’s a person to do? I am not a mechanic, and certainly not familiar with the design of the steering mechanism on a Yukon. All we knew is the damn steering wheel spun like a top. With little choice but to take (tow) it to the only dealer in town, we’re sort of at their mercy. I didn’t notice any bolt on the ground, and how in the world could something get bent? Seems illogical to me. I will have that conversation with the service manager, but in the end will have to knuckle under and write the check. I am not confident of the diagnosis (yet). Our previous experience with this particular dealer was not confidence building.

So we sit and await the final act. Hopefully.

Go Caps...

almost too tired to
DFD

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The MOMSTER Play...in three acts

ACT ONE

Despite feeling like she’d been hit by truck, MFO took her cough and self across the bridge last night for a meeting of archeologists. Seems like she’s always meeting about something. It was held at the little brew pub (oxyura jamaicensis) over on the Solomons, there were libations available, but of course the focus was on the archeologoy meeting. Really! Anyway, upon exiting the meeting, she got back in the MOMSTER with a couple of carryout Pizzas (which are always good from there) for our dinner, started it up, and began to back out of the parking space. Soon after the Yukon began moving she became aware she had absolutley no control over where it was going, because the steering wheel just spun. We’re not talking about turning hard, it just spun free, like a roulette wheel! Start again, same deal. With the help of some of the people in the meeting, the MOMSTER was sort of guided back into the parking spot, albeit somewhat akimbo. I was summoned to retrieve MFO (and dinner) and drove over the bridge and confirmed the wheel was like the wheel of fortune, completely disconnected from the car. Why this happened at rest, although we're very thankful, remains a mystery (mystery music inserted here, answer to be revealed later, hopefully in Act Three). So we returned to the digs and ate the pizza, watched Antiques Roadshow and called it an evening. So, as the curtain closes we see the Feeder tossing and turning in bed, envisioning a morning full of arranging this and that, being forced to endure long waits, writing huge checks, etc..

ACT TWO:

Arising this morning we both remembered that we had arranged for On Star when MFO was starting her cross country journey last year. So, we drove again across the bridge and found the vehicle still there (no worries about that!), fired it up, and pressed the blue button. “Hello, Mrs. Moody, are you having a problem with the Yukon?” How they do this is beyond me. “yes, we are”, and described the problem. “I’m sorry you’re having a problem, I will run an on demand diagnostic and see what it tells us”………………I am showing there is something wrong with the driver air bag, I’ll connect you with the technician, and then I’ll come back and arrange the tow for you at no cost of course” YESSSSSS! The technician couldn’t do much except express sympathy and confirmed the air bag code, and then back to the faceless lady in the radio. "Where would you like the vehicle towed to? Yes, Winegardner in Leonardtown is fine. I’ll go off the phone and we will notify you when the tow person will arrive". At this point, I envisioned a long wait so volunteered to go back over the bridge to Starbucks for coffee. I also filled up the flutter mobile (at now $3.79/gallon for God’s sake!). Got the coffee, back over the bridge again and when I returned (~20 minutes later) I was very pleased to see succor had arrived!!



MFO confirmed that in the mean time, she received three calls, one to tell her the tow was arranged by {...} towing company and the truck was on its way, second to confirm that he was ten minutes out, and the third from the tow driver saying he sees the car.

Without steering available for the disabled vehicle, it was a bit dicey getting it on the roll-back requiring the poor driver to realign his truck several times, but finally it lined up



And with a little help from the owner



We finally got ‘er done!





So, we followed the truck over the river and through the woods to Leonardtown we go..



With a little help from friends,



a resting place was designated, and the momster was desposited.



So as act two closes we are awaiting “the call” from the friendly dealer folks (we may not be able to get to it today, Ma’am, but we’ll call).

Curtain….

As an intermezzo here, I would like to say that without the On Star assist this play might have been a tragedy rather than (hopefully) just a drama. They were very courteous, patient, and did not leave us until they knew we were on our way to the next act. Having just the “emergency” package is not all that expensive, and can be worth its weight if you have a spouse or yourself that is out there all alone. Another luxury that is now a requirement..

Act Three

Stay tuned…and be sure to

DFD

PS: only foodie content besides mechanical woes is that the Pizza's from RD are quite good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunny Sunday, Mother, and Music....

After the rain and wind blew itself out of the area on Saturday, Sunday dawned clear and warmer. Maybe since Mother Nature made her presence known on Saturday, she decided that since the humans wanted to pay more attention to her on Earth day, she would relent.

MFO was still feeling poorly, so I went over to Leonardtown Earth Day Celebration solo and took along the trusty Canon to see what was happening. It was kind of the usual “street fair” with various environmentally themed informational booths set up around the square..





But of course as usual one of the more populous booths was the face painting station



I think there is a requisite formula for these kinds of street things… You of course need the booths (and the face painting), but you also need music:





Fire equipment (new or old)



And of course classic cars (which i grew up with that are now classic, but i am not), although my first car WAS a '53 Chevy):



With open hoods to display the manly engines:



Hey! Wait a minute! What’s that? Upon closer inspection....



Kind of reminiscent of airplane art..

On the foodie side, there was cotton candy, the “hot dog guy”, and other snacks for the crowd. Lots of families, hopefully taking something home with them that will help reduce our impact on the aforementioned Mother Earth. Nice little fair.

I also checked out the new Leonardtown Art Center located on the second floor of a building across from the car dealer, behind the bank..



There are many spaces up there, and at present only about 7 artists have a studio. Eventually you will be able to watch them work, and look at what they are making. The people that are currently there have nice displays of jewelry, some wall art, and metalwork. I was going to take some shots, but there was some reluctance on the part of some of the crafters (who the hell are you? – just an amateur food blogger), so I refrained. They did, however take my card, so if they actually wandered by the blog (and are still reading) welcome. See foodie notes at bottom. Anyway, you might go check it out. Our little Leonardtown is growing - a most convenient place!

Music:

After coming home for a quick lunch, I made the short drive to Immaculate Heart of Mary church just down the road from me (past the demon infested lights and they are multiplying – more later). The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Choir and Chamber Singers were performing Brahms’ Requiem (It’s around Easter you know). They were being accompanied by the illustrious piano duo of Brian Ganz and Beverly Babcock, who loyal readers know are bright lights down here. There was also a special Soprano (Coleen Daly-Eberhardt) and Baritone (Bob McDonald), and Anthony Asero on the Timpani. Another star in our musical constellation, Larry Vote, was the director. Now some of those same loyal and alert readers might remember that such performances can drive the Feeder nuts. Handel’s Messiah is one of those, with endless repetitions of the same phrase, over and over, and over again. So, I was a little apprehensive that I was letting myself in for another of those sessions, but with musical talent like that, who could stay away. Well, guess what? Johannes got it right (take note Georg Friedrich..) there was some of that repitition but not bludgeoning. There were VII movements, and they were sung in German (with English translation in the program). I kind of thought maybe the end should be after the VI movement, but I bow to Johannes

It turned out to be a stirring performance. A full Choir 25 feet away, with Brian and Beverly playing four handed piano punctuated by the drums produced a wonderful experience. I even have to admit the soloists were quite good. There was such good interplay (music fans, I don’t have the words) between the pianists and the vocals, with intricate rhythms and so forth. And it is so enjoyable to watch Brian absorbed in the music he’s playing, with his head snapping up and down, putting everything into the music he’s playing, and I believe I even saw him with a joyous grin at one point. He just so enjoys what he does. He and Beverly work so well together (four hands, one keyboard!). At the end, there were multiple curtain calls (although there was no curtain), and it was apparent that Larry (to borrow a sports phrase) left it all out there on the field. He looked drained.

So ended the soggy and sunny weekend with nary a thing to do in Southern Maryland.

Okay - Foodie stuff..

I had a note from some very palate conscious friends that they had a good experience at Cahil’s Restaurant, the new occupant of the old Antiques Store/Tea Room in Leonardtown. Feeder has put it on the ever expanded list of “gotta go there”.

I didn’t report (and was reminded by FOJTE) on the John Glenn Dinner. For a 300 person plated dinner it wasn’t bad. It was at the River’s Edge Conference Center (aka the “new” officer’s club). They tended to serve ladies first (as they should) and didn’t plunk down the plates. The salad course was the low point, but the main dishes were not bad. If I have the faculties of John Glenn at 89, I will be shocked.

And another reader informs me that there was a cyclist Fausto Coppi in the war years.. Don’t know if he could cook.

and, lest you wonder, John Glenn was

DFD

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Soggy Saturday...

things piling up so fast this weekend we better start!!

Despite the dire forecast for Saturday and even hints of it being true, we headed up the road to attend the Smithsonian Craft Fair, the yearly premier craft event held at the National Building museum. We missed it last year, and wanted to make sure we got there this time. So gassed up the flutter mobile (cha ching!) and pointed north. With no major hiccups we arrived at my friend’s apartment just south of the Mall, and with only moderate driving around we found a parking place - one of the reasons I am glad I DON’T live in DC. Upon entering his apartment I was surprised to see another friend I don’t see nearly enough of. What a wonderful surprise! Even though we all communicate via text, email, facebook, tweets, yadda yadda, there is nothing like seeing somebody in person. As they say, you can’t hug a smart phone.

Anyway, our host served us all a nice little plate of Kerrygold Cheddar, some refreshing grapes, a glass of some very nice Riesling, and some very tasty little crackers. Upon questioning about them, turns out that they are a new product from Kellogg. Go figure. They were really pretty good. As an aside, our sort of normal everyday cracker to accompany cheese, Wheat Thins, have apparently undergone some transition resulting in smaller, and sort of weird looking and tasting items. Maybe they’re going down the list in favor of Kalamazoo (if we can find them)!

Anyway, after sipping and catching up a bit we headed out for lunch and the show. Fortunately we decided to drive, and one of the “natives” volunteered to pilot his car. It’s always fun to sbe with residents who are used to driving in DC. While my experience usually is dead ending, or finding the street to be wrong way, or ending up in some location you would rather not be, these guys are on it. “Let’s go up (for instance) 7th to P, cut over on Wallach, maybe Vermont” (this isn’t accurate but you get the drift). So after going here and there we miraculously ended up across from Coppi’s Organic Restaurant on U Street near the Verizon center, and even found a precious parking place. We all pretty much emptied our pockets into the parking meter, each quarter worth 8 minutes (why I DON’T want to live…). My other friend had been to Coppi’s recently and really enjoyed the place and food, so we’d try it before the show. One of the reasons I wish I DID live in DC is that there are places like this. It’s in an old building, extremely high ceilings, and walls decorated with bicycling memorabilia. Apparently Coppi is an an Italian maker of high end bicycling frames, and I think there is a cycling club in Alexandria by that name. Anyway, lots of signed photos old and new, torn jerseys, certificates, etc. The furniture comes from an old church, dark wood and wooden floors. They bill themselves as a rustic Italian organic restaurant and take pride on their ingredients. We were there for late lunch, hence there was sort of a limited menu, consisting of Eggs, Calzones, Pizze, and Pannini. Since my friend had enjoyed a pasta dish for his previous visit, I was disappointed to see no pasta options on the menu. When asked about this, the server produced the dinner menu which did have lots of pasta choices, and said the kitchen would be glad to prepare any of them. Over a glass of wine we finally decided that MFO would have eggs and sausage, and around the table a Pizze of pancetta, mozzarella, fresh basil, Calzone of mushroom, sausage, and greens (from memory – always suspect). I chose the “Trenette al Fumo” pasta, described as “Housemade pasta in a sauce of Italian bacon, smoked provolone, leeks, cream and Italian parsley”. More conversation, wine, and voila, our dishes appeared











My pasta (just above) was really good, and the leeks provided a nice contrast to the salty bacon. MFO’s eggs were very tasty, and had those orangey yolks indicative of really fresh eggs. The pizze was also good with the pancetta I think applied after the pizze was cooked. The calzone was not as much appreciated as it lacked the zip that we thought would be there. The sausage in it was quite milder than that on the egg plate. However, all in all it was a nice lunch in a great little place, and maybe a bit hasty after one visit, I would pretty much place it on the “just right” list. Informal, easy going, friendly service, no frills. I think it would kind of be what the OG folks might have envisioned when they claim the “family” bit. Go try it. What really impresses me when I go to DC is that this is probably only one of (insert large number here) places like this. How many do we have??

With the body satisfied, we headed out to satisfy the soul and amazingly found a parking place right outside the Building Museum, which was good because the weather was proving the predictions correct. I’ve waxed eloquent about this show before, and we thoroughly enjoyed it again. There are not hundreds of booths like the Baltimore Show, but a manageable number you can cover in an afternoon.



It is just amazing what people can think of to do. As this is getting long, I won’t go on and on. But hundreds of hours are invested in the pieces, and they show it. We saw one layered fabric piece that was like the water lilies at Giverny by Monet. For five figures it could be on your wall. Given the work, the composition, it’s probably worth it.

We did find just a couple of items to bring home a glass vase



And a porcelain “something” (our last quarter shown for scale)



So despite the weather, it was a great day, filled with reasons why and why you don’t want to live in DC. I’m sure glad I have two good friends who don’t mind. What i did mind was the ride home through driving rain, holding my breath as the people who needed to justivy their toys zipped by in their double wides and SUV's..harrowing. But through it all we remained

DFD

Friday, April 15, 2011

Taxes and Tikis...

So many words so little space and time. Desperately trying to make a Friday “to do”, but a rush of things makes me resort to the “have done/to do” approach…

Have Done..

Not much, but did attend a couple of lectures this week. The first was a “last lecture” by Prof. Dan Ingersoll from the college. He is retiring, and the college has instituted the “last lecture” policy which allows their staff to have a chance for a “I’ve always wanted to say this” or to reminisce on their career or whatever. Dr. Ingersoll was in the anthropology department and did a lot of research on Easter Island culture. He gave a very intriguing talk on why you don’t want to be rich or famous..very humorous. Other items like the old conundrum on hanging on to your ties, because wide is fashionable, then thin, then wide, etc..

Then, last night we again went down to the college and listened to Gwen Ifill, host of “Washington Week” a highly regarded news show from DC. She was here as part of the Benjamin Bradlee Lectures in Journalism series. Pay attention to those, they are worth attending. Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward, and even Tony Kornheiser (who thought SMCM was on the eastern shore) have been previous speakers. Ms. Ifill was an engaging speaker who has a great sense of humor and is not full of herself. She spoke a lot about “journalism” as opposed to the onslaught of data now thrown at us through facebook, twitter, and Wikipedia. She was particularly critical of the latter (as was Dr. Ingersoll), although she said that it might provide a starting place, but it was the responsibility of the real journalist to verify, dig deeper. She said her premise was that people were smart enough to make up their own minds if presented with the facts. Questions were interesting. “Is the government broke?” Yes, sort of, with following remarks. It’s obvious why some people get to where they are.. It was heartening to see the audience was made up predominately of students. When I was in college, I wouldn’t have set down my beer to go hear a journalist.

A little diversion here, almost deserving of a rant, but not quite. Of course, Ms. Ifill is a regional if not national celebrity and so there were several photographers present. I always think that the more camera bodies and long gray lenses they have, the more prestigious the publication they are supporting. Anyway there was this one guy with three bodies and lenses dangling off him, one about the length of your forearm. And, he had this flash attachment that emitted enough light that would make a solar flare proud. After the lecture I also noticed that there was a stationary flash mounted in the back of the room. So, when he pressed the shutter it was like a nuclear flash occurred. They were extremely short duration, but it lit up the whole place. I think there wasn’t a minute of the whole lecture that he wasn’t shooting. Front right, back right, left back, front right, in close. All evening long! And once you start to notice….. “Good evening, I’m glad to be here on the campus of your beautiful school”. Pretty much did that the whole evening. Don’t these people have any sense of propriety? I’m sure their response would be “Just doin’ my job, buddy, what’s your problem?” And, although some of my best friends are photographers, I have never observe this rude behavior from them..

After we returned from the lecture we watched a TV show on MPT called Chesapeake Wine Country. It featured several of the “wine trails”, with the notable exception of St. Mary’s County with no mention of Port of Leonardtown nor Slack (or any other local winery). Since I’m getting more involved with beer these days, it was interesting to note that one of the “hosts” for the program was the owner of Clipper City Brewery, producer of Heavy Seas beers. Kind of odd...

To Do:

Today:
File your Taxes by midnight. Hey, the government needs our money.
Go to the Tiki bar opening
Enjoy activities at Earth Day in Leonardtown.
Attend a lecture on the discovery of an 18th century ship at the world trade center (La Plata campus of CSM; 7pm)
Attend a concert by the SMCM Jazz Band and combo (playing Elton John and Steely Dan) at 8pm in Auerbach Auditorium

Over the weekend:

Attend the Smithsonian Craft Show, Building Museum in DC, awesome stuff.
Saturday – SMCM world fair; Annual Fun and Run for Hospice;
Sunday - Grand Opening of the Leonardtown Art Center (sort of our version of the torpedo factory) 12:30 (more earth day stuff as well); Larry Vote will direct the Choir & Chamber Singers of St. Mary's College in the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms. Brian Ganz and Beverly Babcock will accompany. 5pm Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Lexington Park. no fee

Enough?

Okay, just one food note. Last night when we left the Ifill lecture, we decided to order CiCi pizza for pickup on the way home. (please, no comments, it’s cheap and convenient). So, I call on the cell phone. Hello, this is CiCi, can you hold. Yes. …………….. Okay, what would you like?
A large pizza, all pepperoni, half black olive and half mushrooms. Okay, so you want a pizza with half pepperoni, and half mushrooms and olives? No, I want pepperoni all over and then half mushrooms and half black olive. Got it pepperoni on the whole pizza and then mushrooms and olives on the other half? Well, almost, I want the mushrooms and olives on different halves. Oh! Mercifully when I got it, it was what I wanted. Did I miss something? Is this hard? Am I speaking the wrong language.. sigh.

Well, maybe two foodie notes. I always read the “Around Town” section of the Friday insert to see what restaurant is described. This week it’s a new restaurant in Port Tobacco called Crabby Dick’s. I believe that the old Copsey’s in Charlotte Hall is now Crabby Rick’s. Not to be confused. Anyway hard on the heels of last week’s (?) description of crab wrapped around chicken over mac and cheese finished with more cheese, Crabby Dick’s features one of those Crab Pretzel things. Why do people do that? It’s silly!!! Oh, it’s a signature dish. Sheesh.

DFD

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wet Wednesday...

I wasn’t going to burden you today (being so-called lite Wednesday, and the fact that I am pretty much without thoughts), but things have changed some.

There were two “contractors” that were supposed to come over to the digs this morning to see if they could convince us to spend money, and both have called and said they couldn’t make it. One of them called from Leonardtown and said he was experiencing a “right rain”. That’s the kind of county talk I like. Sounds like a keeper.

Anyway, that cleared my schedule so I am just sitting staring out the windows at the river. A little squall just passed with mist and light rain, sort of shrouding the Solomons with a cloak of gray. The occasional Osprey (the feathered kind) floats by, the grass is green (and freshly mowed, thank you), the buds are about to explode on the trees, the dogwoods are finally getting their chance after the exuberance of the cherries and magnolias fade to green, and it’s just darn peaceful. I have often said that fall was my favorite season, and I won’t change my mind, but it’s nice to see nature repeat itself with renewed life once again. The flowers flower, the leaves turn green, and they don’t know there’s maybe a long hot dry summer ahead, they just do it. Somehow I do enjoy these kinds of days more than the glaring sun. Whew, what brought that on?

Okay, almost enough. Just one more observation (gotta get food in here somehow). I received the May/June edition of Cook’s Illustrated yesterday. As you recall, it’s that kind of cooking for engineers magazine edited by Chris Kimball. Chris always has some homey stuff to say on his editorial page, and mostly it’s about the simple life in Vermont. Skinning rabbits, planting corn, visiting with elderly neighbors, that kind of thing. Sometimes it’s pithy, and sometimes not. This time it was given over to "Vermont" jokes, generally the country guy outsmarting the city one. Anyway, then I started through the magazine, with articles telling me how to make the perfect “Pub Burger” or grilled scallops, each with details on eighty or so false starts. But what struck me with this issue is that with each recipe, there is a little box that says something like “See how to caramelize the shallots by going to www.cooks....com”. Or “watch how … prepares the dish at www.cooks....com”. Is there a dichotomy here? The simple home life, back to basics, and they practically drive you to the web and their site. Something is wrong here.

Tonight I am going to the “John Glenn Dinner” supporting the Naval Air Museum here in the park. Report tomorrow.

Tiki weekend approacheth…

Okay, time for a nap, there's always time to

DFD

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cleaning up...

A few more items to clear off the desk..sort of a “this and that” approach.. or, as one loyal reader advises: “Of This and That” is more elegant.

Hot Food:

We were in the McKay’s Grocery Store the other day in Leonardtown gather rations for the evening meal, when MFO picked up a little tub of something called “Pico de Guaco” which had what looked like fresh Salsa resting on a bed of Guacamole. Hmm, we like both, and the idea of mixing them sounded good so we pitched it into the basket. That evening as we were settling into cocktail hour, we dutifully mixed the stuff and put it in a little (attractive) bowl and got some little crostini crackers to spread it on. Appropriate libations in hand we prepared to enjoy cocktail hour, sometimes including schedule coordination sessions, sometimes reading the plethora of foodie magazines, and even, get this, conversation! Anyhow we began relaxing and I took a little cracker and spread some of the salsa/guac on it and popped it in my mouth. No sooner did I do that when a searing burning pain started on the tongue, and migrated to the back of the neck and forehead. I downed nearly half the DMOTRWAT before the pain subsided. MFO who has a little more tolerance than I, said: Wow. It went back in the little tub.

So, I took a look at the container, and sure enough, sort of hidden on the lid in red (most of the lid was red, picturing the Salsa) was a little thermometer about a quarter of an inch high, with liquid spurting from the top, and in 3 point font the words “hot”. We never even thought to look. So, okay, our fault.

But, that once again brought to my mind (and I have expressed this before) why do people eat, and even seek out this stuff? We’ve all heard stories about “more hot”, and jalapeno eating contests, and the famous “Too Hot” story from one of the old ITT members. There seems to be a cult around “hot” food. At least to me, serious heat in food overcomes any flavor, nuance, or enjoyment of the ingredients. All there is, is a sweaty neck or forehead. I am just not into masochistic eating.

Another example was a recipe for a Bloody Mary I came across in a supplement to Sauce Magazine. Bloody Mary’s seem to bring these people out of the woodwork. First of all, it has 14 ingredients (so it HAS to be gourmet, right?), among which are whole black peppercorns, tomato juice (thank goodness), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, prepared horseradish, and Pickapeppa Sauce, plus more standard things like celery seed and salt. To begin with, you muddle or crush the peppercorns and add them to the “high-quality” Vodka (a subject for future feeders) and shake every other day for a week, and strain when ready to mix. You then use that combined with the other stuff to produce the drink. Can you imagine the result? This feeling that a bloody mary has to be highly spiced escapes me. The basic cocktail is highly touted as a hangover cure. I don’t know about your hangovers, but the few I’ve had would not be improved by putting such things in my stomach. Another example of “the hotter it is, the better it is”. I don’t get it.

And before moving on, I will remind myself that I am a fan of “eat what you like, there’s no absolutes”. So enjoy hurting yourself and leave me out of it..

Good Food:

The latest edition of Saveur hit my mailbox the other day. They seem to like the approach of devoting a whole issue to a singular subject and this one featured a couple of huge sandwiches on the cover proclaiming “The Sandwich Issue”. I’m sad to report the little squibs about the articles within used the words “perfect” and “best”. Sigh… Anyway aside from that it’s a great issue treated in depth as they usually do with little articles about how the first bread slicing machine was invented in Chillicothe, Missouri, by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Where are you gonna find stuff like that? There’s a full two page spread (ha ha) on types of breads, (30, count’ em 30), and a nice little article on the famous Croque Monsieur, the Cubano, grilled cheese and about 85 more. Also a nice little piece about Philly entitled “Sandwich City” which is not devoted cheese steaks, although they are mentioned. They of course have a list of shops, and to my surprise, and their credit (?) Pat’s King of Steaks is not on it (although the founder Pat Olivieri is mentioned). Plenty of recipes..

Good Places:

I was given a publication by a friend who was recently in Seattle called Voracious, “Seattle Weekly’s Dining Guide”, and they listed their “favorite” restaurants (which turns out to be 107). In the little editor’s corner in front he says: “on a good day some of us will be faced with the question “So, what’s the best restaurant in the city?” several times before lunch”. I was pleased to see he further said: “the answer is never a good one, because the answer will be different for someone who really loves fish, or for someone who just wants a hunk of prime rib; one thing for the cutting-edge molecular-gastronomy enthusiast and something else for the moss-stomping locavore”. So the list contains restaurants that cover the range. I know a friend who lives there now said he likes Canlis, and that’s included, but so is the Cheese Cake Factory, and a bunch of Pizza places.. Always nice to have these things at your fingertips.

But, whatever your tastes, be it hot or mild, fin or fur, flat or tall, be sure that you consider that you are:

DFD

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Long Heritage....

There are several definitions of that word, here’s one - Heritage: “something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inherited lot or portion”. Most people have sort of a working definition of it, a long time inheritance, or descended from a long association with history. So I was a bit surprised by an article forwarded to me from the National Restaurant News, regarding the Olive Garden. They (Darden Restaurants) are apparently going to remodel several of their properties (remember the yellow stucco models?) so that (and I quote):

Olive Garden said it is remodeling 400 of its more than 730 locations in an effort to reinforce its Italian heritage with consumers”.

Excuse me, “Italian heritage?” from a stupid box store that claims “when you’re here you’re family!” Never mind that they have squatted their store on previously nice woodlands, and serve food prepared elsewhere and frozen for your consumption? Pave that parking lot…Good Grief..

But wait! There’s more: “Called “Via Tuscany,” the new interior and exterior look draws its inspiration from a Tuscan farmhouse, Olive Garden said in a press release, and will feature upgraded seating and window treatments in the dining rooms and bar areas. Outside touches include new front doors, Tuscan stones, a brick arch, freshly painted walls and newly planted Cypress trees”.

They’re such selfless folks. Gosh, I want to go there so I can pretend I’m in Tuscany. This may not be totally fair, but I would like to take a poll of diners some evening asking “Can you point to Tuscany on this world map?”

Those folks at Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52) are just trying to make us feel good. "Our brands are built on decades of learning from our guests. Their culinary inspirations come from the fishing villages of Maine, the family tables of Italy and the American West – icons that reflect the rich diversity of those who visit our restaurants”. What crap. Dine local.

And speaking of restaurants, most readers will remember that I have carried the torch to Dress For Dinner (DFD) for a long time. Well, guess what? The rest of the nation is waking up that things they are a’ changing. There’s an article in the Wall Street Journal last week called "Jacket (not) Required" lamenting the changing dress code at high end restaurants.

the majority of the iconic old-school restaurants that once mandated jackets and ties for men have replaced "required" with "requested." At the iconic Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel—a second home to Hollywood's elite since 1912—the once strictly enforced dress code is now "no tank-tops after 10 p.m.”

They quote several restaurateurs citing that economics is driving them away from “jacket required”. People just don’t dress that way anymore.

They also quote the famous Tom Wolfe (always pictured in his white three piece suit) as saying: "The death of dressing accordingly isn't the end of civilization," said Mr. Wolfe, who is now 80 and universally identified by his white three-piece suits. "But it is the end of courage—men being afraid to be caught in fancy clothes, or even a jacket….., the benefits to formal dressing outweigh the negatives. "You'll look terrific, and miles above those slobs. And you'll get more respect. Formal dress really has social impact. You'll be treated with greater deference than the 45-year-old guy dressed like a rock drummer." Thanks Tom…

Or the general manager of the “21 Club”: “Mr. McGuire, now in his 23rd year at '21,' seems to lament the new leniency, and the inelegance of it all. People still care how a person is dressed to the left and to the right of them,"

I certainly do. You need to respect the food. At some places there are people in the back that work hard to present you a nicely arranged plate with good food. You should appreciate that effort and look respectable when you receive it. But I guess if you’re in your Tuscan Farmhouse, you can look like a farmer..

Openings:

Last Friday I braved the rain and cold and stuck my head in at the opening of “Twist”, the new liquor store located next to McDonalds on Millstone Landing Road. They’ve spruced the place up and had several tasting stations sprinkled around, and they even brought in Dexter Manely who apparently would sign an autograph for you if you had 20 bucks. Guess they got to make a living somehow. Twist has a fairly nice selection of craft beers, but at present the wines are restricted to more, um, “popular” brands.






The Sports Report:

Finally, I can’t let the weekend rest without mentioning the Masters golf tournament. What a display of intense competition with I think eight golfers in or part of the lead during the final round. Memories of the Greg Norman melt down were re-lived when young Rory McIlroy blew up on the last nine and soared to a round of 80. He’s such a darling kid, it was pretty painful to watch. He seems to have a marvelous outlook, I hope he can do it one day. Phil, who never had it, was off the course before the coverage began almost, and of course with Tiger resurgent, the media was in its usual frenzy. Despite his 31 on the front nine, the putter deserted him on the back, and he could only manage par. Adam Scott and Jason Day threatened, but it was a relatively unknown South African who birdied the final four holes who put on the green jacket. At least he won it, he didn’t back into it. Some say golf is cruel sport, and as you watched Tiger lip out 2 footers, or Rory playing from the front porch of Butler Cabin, who could argue. There's no place to hide...

so next year at the Champions Dinner, all will be in green

DFD

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary!!

First there’s nothing then there’s a lot..

Exactly three years ago today, I was in this location (with an extremely rare picture of the feeder to prove it). Do you know where it is?




Got it? here’s another clue.



You’re correct, it’s the hallowed grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club. (and the famous 12th hole on amen corner). If you EVER get a chance to go to the Master's, do not pass it up (unless of course you don’t care about golf). It is an experience you will never forget. Actually, I take that back. Even if you don’t care for golf, it is a lovely place just to be. As I probably said in a long ago bottom feeder, people somehow behave civilly, and you sort of have the feeling of being in church. And there is a requirement to eat a pimento sandwich. You have to. Sigh…it lives up to its reputation..

Have Done:

Some of the “to do” has lapsed into the “have done” category. Wednesday, MFO and I had a chance to “review” the new tour at the historic Sotterley Plantation. They are revamping the current tour of the manor house and wanted to do a “dry run” before going public. I did learn some new things about the place including a new appreciation of Herbert Satterlee and his approach to decorating the place, along with Mable Ingalls. Sotterley Plantation and Historic St. Mary’s City are worth visiting and revisitng…

And, speaking of the latter, last night we went down to the Annual Archeology Lectures at the Visitor Center. Of course everybody knows that April is archeology month, and the City sort of honors that with lectures on various topics. Lecturers were Ruth Mitchell (senior archeologist – in position, not age!); Tim Riordan (Director of Archeology); and Terry Brock a PhD Candidate from Michigan State(!) Ruth and Tim spoke about ongoing projects around the city and what they are learning about early life in the colony. Great stuff, it's nice to see what's under our feet and what we can learn. Terry spoke more specifically about his research into “community” in the African American community during slavery and after emancipation. There is so much neat stuff to do (but I haven’t mentioned this before).

Can Do:

The normal Friday feature is a bit lacking today, although (speaking of history again) there will be a program tomorrow (if the stupid government stays open) at Thomas Stone National Historic Site near Port Tobacco. Our own Aaron Meisinger the multi talented re-enactor (and did you know one of the original servers at Brome Howard Inn?) will be portraying Leonard Calvert (first governor of Maryland). Aaron is always entertaining no matter what hat he is wearing. Things start at 2pm.

Sotterley Plantation kicks of this year’s lecture series with a program about Frederick Law Olmstead, a famous landscape architect and urban planner. There will be a film. No charge, begins at 3pm (exactly when the coverage of the final round of the master’s begins!!). Depending on the status of the golf tournament, you may or may NOT see the feeder..

Jefferson Patterson Park opens this weekend…

Speaking of openings, the new wine and liquor store “Twist” is having hoopla today as part of their Grand Opening. Ribbon cutting at 4:30, food samples, and for all you die hard Redskin Fans, Dexter Manly will be there from 6 to 8.

Tiki bar opens on the 15th. Plan to either attend or stay away…

Quick Foodie Notes:

I note that todays “Around Town” insert in the Enterprise that (how did I miss this?) our “tea room” in Leonardtown has shed its little old ladies who eat cucumber sandwiches (not that there’s anything wrong with that) image and has become – for want of a better term – a “real restaurant”. It’s called “Cahil’s Café” . Unless I missed it (always possible) the derivation of the name is not revealed. Owner is a Hilburn, and chef a Turner..but I am always a fan of alliteration. Anyway it'll go on the list for a feeder visit...

I see iron is coming out of the ground just north of the Olive Garden, which I suppose will eventually turn out to be the Texas Roadhouse or Texas Steakhouse or whatever. Wonder if they had any pause for thought after Lone Star shuttered…

I had another couple of topics, but we’ll save those for another day..

If you go out this weekend, remember you MUST

DFD

Ps: Go Phil!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Missing Muses...

Sometimes the muses are cracking at your brain, filling the cells with brilliant ideas and sometimes they seem to be taking a break. Like today, which reduces one to talking about banal things like ….

Weather: I know that the Mayans think the world is ending next/this(?) year in December. Some days I think they may be on to something. Have you noticed the increasing trend of violent weather lately? Big snowfalls all winter, tornadoes in March, heavy rains, strong winds, no let up. And, concurrently with this, the weather guessers seem to be sort of unable to call the shots anymore. Like last week they forecasted big storms, and we get nothing. Or light rain predictions fill up your rain gage… Eighty degrees one day, middle forties the next. Go figure.. and what do you know? we’re coming around that season that sends coastal dwellers reaching for their martini glasses, the time when storms are given names in case they want to come calling..it’s always something…

Or, you can talk about that old reliable….

Sports: Please pass the salt and pepper so I can apply it to a large serving of crow that I have to eat. After ranting about the state of women’s basketball, the men do me proud in their highest showcase of college basketball, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's National Championship Basketball game. Not. One of the teams doesn’t put 50 points on the board and both teams give a pitiful example of throwing bricks and dinner rolls at the basket, with the losing team shooting under 20 percent!! Awful. And, mercifully after tonight, both genders can put away the basketballs for a while as the women’s version of the same will determine their champion, with the pre-season favorites of Stanford, UCONN, and Brittany Griner watching on TV with the rest of us. Another benefit of the end of the Road to the Final Four, is that we don’t have to suffer Charles Barkley anymore.

And, leaving Sports, that leaves my first love

Food: As you might remember, I get the St. Louis food newspaper/magazine “Sauce”. I got another version in the mail on Monday. Okay, and also as you might remember I have taken to sort of look at Facebook without doing much posting there. I have “liked” the Sauce page (wall? Whatever the hell you call it) and glance at it occasionally. Well today, they have a thing about Tony’s (St. Louis’s long time premier restaurant – IMHO) with a title something like “Ever wonder what the trick is to keeping customers happy?” and a link to an article where Vince gives his top five tips for good service, because Open Table gave them an award in Best Service category. Well, that caught my eye as I can attest to that distinction. So I clicked and that whisks you to another place with the article..snippets:

Know the pulse of the party - Is it a business meeting? “Seat them where they can talk their business.” Date night? “Give them some walls…

Keep notes - keeps track of guests, preferred tables, favorite dishes, even birthdays

Call guests by name - staff at Tony’s is trained to speak to the guest by name at least four times during the course of a visit

Have a long-term, devoted staff - Some employees have been at Tony’s for more than 20 years.

Always look for ways to improve - ..."crew find one thing to improve every month at the restaurant and strive for betterment on a daily basis. “We earn our reputation anew every night with every guest.”

Notice that none of these have to do with the food service itself, it’s about making the diners happy.. food is only part of the equation. If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing here.

When I first saw reference to the article, I thought I would go look at it in the magazine… guess what? Nowhere to be found. Only online. I find that a disturbing trend. More and more print media is being “obsoleted” by the social media. If you don’t do Facebook you may not know. Where will this all end?

The Mayans know… wonder if they would

DFD

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Rant or not to Rant...

What should I do? Rant then do nice, or vicey versa… hard to tell.

To kill a little time did you go to Google’s home page today? Those guys amaze me. Silicon valley somethings, dreaming up stuff for us to see in their “Google Doodle”. This week they celebrated the birthday of the Bunsen Burner guy. Did you have physics or chemistry class memories with one of those? Long time memories. And today they celebrated the 119th anniversary of the “documented” ice cream Sundae (always “ae”) not the 100th, not the 125th, but the 119th. They are very clever those google somethings. I type about three letters and Boom! Suggestions. And by golly they are 95% right. How do they do that??? I guess they are smarter than me.

Okay, I guess I’ll out and out rant first. I think I may do this every year about this time, and hopefully I don’t get in any more trouble than I usually do. Last night I watched the final four of the men’s basketball tournament. Exhilarating stuff. Up and down the floor at breakneck speed, long range three’s (please expunge the “three ball” from the lexicon of sports reprorting), rocket passing, soaring dunks, great stuff. Anyway, it’s played at a tempo that’s exciting. Okay, tonight I am watching (there’s no Holme’s dammit) the women’s version of the final four is on. After a half of play (of the first game) the number one and two seeds have amassed the huge totals of 50 points between the two teams. Twenty minutes of play and there’s 23 points on the boards for one team. Missed chip shot layups, front rim free throws, dribbles off foots, tripping on own feet, loss of controls for no reason. Maybe I should not consider this the same sport. Maybe it’s my problem. I should consider it a different sport, like say, Cricket, Horse Polo, and don’t compare to another sport by the same name. And who is that women on ESPN? that hokey accent-- "They bin aplayin' fer a long taame"...along with Holly Rowe who starts every interview "what were you thinking...." great job Holly.

Okay, let’s move on

I met some friends today for Brunch at Café Des Artistes in Leonardtown. We have kicked around “Brunch” lately so this was a good opportunity to check out an opportunity. Café is a pleasant place to enjoy a Sunday interlude, kind of a frilly, semi formal place to enjoy Sunday casual dining. I have gone on record as stated that “brunch” should include a special menu, and they have a “light offering” section on their menu that might qualify. We were surprised that there was not an omelet or a quiche option today.

First,long time readers may remember that an experience at his same CDA gave genesis to the DFD campaign. Well, today we repeated that same experience. As I was arriving at the restaurant, there was a white pickup parked past the restaurant the disgorged three people in ball caps, sweats, tee shirts, hooded sweatshirts, and torn jeans. I thought well, there must be remodeling work today someplace. Nope, they crossed the street and entered the restaurant. Of course they were seated.

During our stay, I might speculate that at least half of the patrons were not what I would consider appropriately dressed for the situation. People came in dressed in jeans, sweat shirts, and generally shabby clothing. There were several tables more of my generation clothed in appropriate dress. What the hell, am I missing something? "C’mon honey, let’s go in here and get some chow".

I have considered this phenomenon, and have mixed feelings. Dress to respect the food and the establishment, or just go in to pound food in the mouth. Who cares about ambiance, sense of place, I’m just going in to shovel in the food.. In the end, the money in the cash drawer looks the same, but geez, do I have to share my experience with somebody who looks more like a construction worker than a diner? The most I could wish for is some dim awareness that “hey, I’m not dressed like these other folk”.

So, lack of some ambiance aside, how was the food? With Chef Loic in the house it was good. Our table had two Eggs Benedict, and a Strata (kind of an egg casserole). I am happy to report that the Eggs Benedict (which calls for poached eggs), was presented with the eggs poached in the classical manner of swirling them in boiling water to form a little pouch rather than the one eyed offerings coming from a “cup”. Where else do you get that? And the egg yolks were properly cooked with a lovely orangey/gold color. They were also just coagulated, not runny, just right.

So, a good day and MFO will arrive tomorrow. She’ll probably be road weary and we might not be able to

DFD

Friday, April 1, 2011

SOMD, how do I love thee....

let me count the ways, I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.....:....well, maybe that's a bit strong.

Anyway, counting the ways in my life today:

1. I was notified of the opportunity to procure some special goat cheese which I have enjoyed in the past.

2. As part of picking up the goat cheese, I ran into a good palate friend in the parking lot of the local gourmet store (Blue wind) who had purchased some wine. Nice conversation.

3. I went into the store, picked up the goat cheese (Cherry Glen Monacacy Ash and Chipotle (award winning, I’ll let you know, an odd combination)). with more nice conversation...

4. Came home, selected the DFD costume, and drove over to the Dry Dock.

5. Up the stairs to the just reopened place and thank goodness, no flat screens, still just an inviting space overlooking the harbor.

6. Saw a friend at the bar with whom I don’t get to spend enough time, and sat down. Great to catch up over cocktails.

7. Same barkeep as last year, silent but efficient, served a nice Gray Goose dirty martini, up.

8. Enjoyed seeing many friends from work and around the community. All, I might add, appropriately DFD’d.

9. The “new” menu is pretty much the same, salads with toppings (crab, shrimp, etc.), appetizers (mini crab cakes, mussels tonight), entrees including chicken, steaks, salmon, and so forth. The only variation I remembered was no duck. A new offering was a lamb shank. Lamb Shank is an odd choice for a seafood restaurant, eh?


10. Ordered a cup of crab soup along with the lamb shank. The soup was less glutinous than I had remembered which had a nice bright color.

11. The lamb shank with creamy polenta was very good, pleny of well done flavorful meat, and i paired with a glass of a Louis Martini (now resurgent) Cabernet, which belied your preconceived notions of Louis Martini...

12. More mixing with friends.

13. A I was leaving, I “crashed” the kitchen and talked a bit with Ben and Beth, long time inhabitants of the line in a small kitchen space. They’ve got it under control.

14. Thank goodness, another opportunity for pretty nice dining.

15. And I didn’t go over to First Friday in Leonardtown. Many options.

16. Tomorrow awaits. Chapel duty and maybe a chance to help with food events.

17. Why we love and live here.

depending on events, i will be

DFD

I'm no Fool!!

Well, here it is Friday… there is always a lot to talk about on Fridays..

Like what to do..

Tonight is the First Friday of the month, meaning the Calvert Museum will be offering their Free Friday, Leonardtown will be buzzing with the usual First Friday hoopla (North End Gallery, Quality Street, Fenwick Books, antiques center), and a special event for me will be the spring opening of the Dry Dock on the Solomons. As related in this column, the rumors of closing have proven false. I myself will a least be starting out there. It’s a special place for the Feeder, as I began my stint here at Pax River by going there most every Saturday night (we worked Saturdays in those days) with dinner at the bar in the old upstairs at the original block house location. You could get a good meal there, and it was before the box stores took over. They were a special bunch, cook, bar keep, and servers. Now that was a place a single diner could fit. Maybe more on that subject later.. Sigh, you can’t go home again.

This morning’s enterprise informs us that tomorrow will be “Solomons Island Kite Day” at the foot of the bridge on the Calvert Side. We always appreciate the show from the digs..and for you outdoorsy types there will be a river clean up held at Myrtle point park from 9 to noon.

There’s a very nice article about the Sotterley speaker series for this year on the front page of the “Community Section” of the aforementioned newspaper. I am so glad that I was able to establish that for Boeing during my community relations life at Boeing. Not that I’m proud or anything. They are usually very good. First one is a week Sunday (4/10) at three. Had I anything to say about it however, I would not have scheduled it during the final round of the Master’s….

Surprisingly, that’s about all the cultural stuff I can ferret out, don’t think there are any concerts or lectures this weekend. Perhaps a post Maryland day lull..

Other other’s

On the technology front it appears my issues with the “Blog Mail’ were caused by the fact that my space on their server was full. Bad things happen when computer things get full. Wouldn’t you think that will all the measure, quantify, instant information, and communication technology that a little message could be generated? "Bottom Feeder, your mail box is about to exceed your limits, please address this problem". Nope, just let the damn thing fill up and all of a sudden you’re helpless. Anyway, a fix was made such that it enables me to once again to see your always informative, interesting, and penetrating comments to the blog. I value those.

And although I’ve sort of shied away from doing much commentary on “the Final Four”, this weekend will put a wrap on college basketball for this year. Then, all there will be left is the NHL playoffs, and sometime in August maybe the NBA version. Although I must admit the Frozen Four college hockey is always a great watch. Minnesota Duluth, Michigan, North Dakota, and (gulp) Notre Dame are in the hunt. I must say (pay attention Domer) that Notre Dame has excelled in sport this year with men’s and women’s basketball doing well, as well as a respectable football showing. Anyway, the hockey is next week.

So, pick out something to do and enjoy the weekend. March certainly did NOT go out like a lamb. But here’s a sure sign of spring..



So given the weather you may have to keep out the sweaters for a bit when you

DFD