Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pork Fat….


after the protein glut at Ray’s on Saturday night, the FOJTY’s picked us up at the hotel Sunday morning and took us out for breakfast at

Jones Heritage Farms is one of the growing number of small farms "reverting to traditional farming techniques eschewing modern industrial agricultural practices such as animal confinement, the feeding of animal byproducts and the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. The result is better tasting food and more environmentally friendly practices." Must work because they produce a damn good breakfast.

It is apparent that it is a real farm

With real critters

The “restaurant” is located next to the barn

You’re seated in an enclosed patio which can be opened to the outside (and, according to FOJTY, the roaming chickens) with a view of the back pasture housing the sheep, a hog or two, and more chickens. The menu is simple:

After an infusion of coffee, we ordered. I took the “number one with bacon and eggs up”. A little oddity, the server was unfamiliar with the term “up” or even “sunny side up”. I am not sure what the local vernacular is, but eventually my order was understood. And, no matter that FOJTY had twenty ounces of ribeye steak the previous evening, he selected a "number two" with double bacon and a sausage (for the three meats) as his choice. MFO also had a number one, and asked about the “southern potato hash” another semantics oddity to us, but it turns out that they are what we would normally call “hash browns". So she added that to her order.

After a bit more conversation and watching real animals, our orders arrived. It’s so nice to see “real” eggs. Look at those yolks… what a beautiful color and they tasted so good..

And the three egg version was equally inviting (look at that pile of meat!)

Pretty soon my plate looked like this

Everything was so good..

As you leave you walk through their little “store”

Where you can purchase various local items..

On the way back to the motel FOJTY wanted to show us one of his favorite subdivisions:

Complete with catchy street signs. Wouldn't you want that for your address?

What a great experience that breakfast was. We talk about this “buy local” stuff but this is really it. They also occasionally do wine dinners with guest chefs . That would be fun for your weekend in the country! A different life.

So we reluctantly bid adieu (or so long) to younger son, pointed the MOMSTER north toward the big city and FOJTE, where other culinary pleasures awaited…

Different outfits up there for


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


No, not the canoe livery in Grayling, Michigan, nor the actor from Everybody Loves…., it’s the restaurant in Kelso, Missouri.

After our day of driving finishing with water lapping at the wheels of the MOMSTER, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi and arrived in Jackson, Missouri, home of FOJTY and MFOJTY. They are attending SEMO (in Cape Girardeau) and hence are living in the nearby town of Jackson. It’s pretty rural there, about two and a half hours south of the Biggest Little City in the Midwest and our former home, St. Louis. We pulled into the motel under some threatening skies.

After resting a bit, the FOJTY’s picked us up and gave us a nice tour of the Campus of SEMO (South East Missouri (MO)) State University. It is a surprisingly large campus for an “outstate” institution, and is home to around 11,000 students. After the tour, we headed south and turned off on Highway 61 (revisited), into the little town of Kelso. FOJTY had done some research and discovered a restaurant called Ray’s of Kelso. Turns out that there has been a presence of “Ray’s” since the current editions father opened a drive-in in 1964, which was about the first in the area to make Pizza. When the Interstate 55 was completed, so was their business, so they opened a restaurant out of their home in ’67 and added steak to the menu. Ray’s Steak and Pizza remained a fixture for a long time, and when the original Ray passed, his son moved into an old bank building and has been operating it as a restaurant since. Besides the restaurant they have outdoor seating and a separate house for large parties.

The interior reminds you it is a bank with high ceilings, and even the vault (which you can dine in) and the ample walls are decorated with pieces of art. Servers are dressed in white shirts and black vests, a welcoming touch. Tables have no cloths, but each placemat has a brief historical sketch of the place. We were seated in sort of a booth in the front, a nice table. Soon after we were seated we were approached by a server younger than most, and she led off with the dreaded full blown “Hi I’m…care of you” speech. I thought oh, boy, here we go.

Well, wrongo oh parochial bottom feeder. Aside from a few gaffes in service which I put down to inexperience, it was a pretty impressive restaurant. The menu is varied and complete for any appetite and taste. Of course they feature steak in three cuts (filet, strip, and ribeye from seven to twenty ounces) plus a porterhouse (one and a quarter pounds) and 20 ounces of Chateaubriand for two carved tableside. They also offer a pepper steak and an Oscar version. Aside from the beef centric, there are also the (famous) pizzas, as well as a good selection of other things. Like veal piccata, Wienerschnitzel, lamb and pork chops, free range chicken in many preparations, vegetarian options, and many seafood choices, such as mahi mahi, grouper, shrimp, scallops, and even lobster as tails or in ravioli. Appetizers are many, including crab cakes (lump blue crab), baked Brie and grapes, stuffed portabellas, shrimp cocktails and sweet potato fries. Prices for the apps were generally under nine, and entrees varied depending on the size of your appetite for steak, and the other options generally very low twenties to under. Lobster tails a bit more. We decided on wine instead of drinks and the wine list was equally surprising to me as it contained some very nice selections at reasonable prices. Both new and old world were represented. Things like a Paul Hobbs Chardonnay and Talley Pinot showed up and we selected an ‘07 Catena Malbec (from Argentina).

In short, the menu was much more impressive than I expected. While we were pondering our choices, Ray showed up a the next table to carve a Chateaubriand. It arrived on a cutting board, sizzling, and he drenched it with (something) which was then flambéed to caramelize further. Of course he had a shtick while carving but it wasn’t meant for the whole room (as it is in our nearby Jerry’s). Our wine was brought to the table by another server (my guess driven by age for serving alcohol) and he did a nice job of presenting.

Finally we all decided on our food. MFO and I split a shrimp cocktail, FOJTY and MFOJ got an order of the sweet potato fries. For main courses, I figured one should dance with the horse they rode in on, and took the diminutive 13 oz. ribeye medium rare, with choiced sides of a Caesar salad (extra cost) and “loaded” baked potato, MFO did the lobster ravioli (Tender chunks of Lobster, minced Shallots, Cream, and Manchego cheese, topped with sautéed Snow Pea Pods, Baby pencil Carrots, Onions, and Mushrooms, Garnished with our Alfredo sauce and minced Pistachios) along with a baby spinach salad), MFOJTY selected the “Californian” pizza which was also loaded (Fresh sliced Tomatoes, Spinach, Artichoke hearts, Scallions,Mushrooms, Bell Pepper, Onions and Black Olives with Fresh herbs and our 5-Cheese Italiano blend. (a no sauce base Pizza)). And FOJTY being a growing boy, took all twenty ounces of a ribeye, and a special asparagus side.

As this is (as usual) getting out of hand we’ll cut to the chase. All of the food was very good. My Caesar salad was crisp, with a nice tangy dressing and yes, an anchovy was atop. All other salads were large and good. Our steaks were cooked just right and actually tasted like steaks (advertised as Prime CAB). The pizza was covered with the items above. MFO thought all the stuff on the ravioli was a bit much, but none the less enjoyed it. The FOJTY’s enjoyed a Crème Brule.

Our server (again inexperienced I hope) seemed to check on us too often and at odd times, kept wanting me to “keep my fork” between courses – I refused and was given a whole new service wrapped in a napkin, cleared the other three plates and asked if they wanted a box while I was still eating my steak, and wanted to know if we wanted the check half way through dessert..

But, as I ALWAYS point out the above observations are only noted as an objective evaluation. We had a wonderful time with our son and his wife, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Valuable time together..too little of it..

Ray’s was a very pleasant find (thank you FOJTY), and for you STL dwellers who want to have a nice weekend getaway from the bustle, you might consider making a pleasant drive for dinner (reservations highly recommended at Ray’s) and stay over in the country. It’s not a chain, the customers were friendly and DFD’d. And you will want to stay over after I tell you about our breakfast the next morning..

And most people were


Monday, June 27, 2011

working on the road.... day two

on the road again...

In Mt. Sterling, KY, after our nice little “dinner” and some relaxation we turned in for the night, knowing the next and final “road day” would be a bit taxing because we stopped short of Lexington, our original target for the day. So next morning we headed out. After a half hour of driving or so, we entered Lexington, the

And of course if you can dabble in horses, you probably have some cash, and indeed there is evidence of that around there

I wish I knew the story..

Since we were heading for FOJTY’s home in Jackson, MO, we altered our normal STL course and headed down a myriad of “parkways” toward the lower left end of Kentucky. We weren’t the only people on the roads as we saw several convoys of these:

Must have been about 50 in this particular parade, all ages, genders, garb, and cycles, however most were Harleys.

After Paducah, we got to the river(s) and began to see the effects of the flooding.

And then we got to the famous river town of

And over the years a number of factors have made it almost a ghost town. Apparently even the best burger in southern Illinois couldn’t help them stay open

Illinois 3 is the “river road” near the mighty Mississippi and the nearer the river we got, the more waater we saw..

Eventually it seemed that the river lapped at the shoulders..

So, that pretty much ended our day..

But of course there's things on the road along the way that catch your eye... not that I would look of course (Gee honey look at that!! Pull over....uh, never mind)

Despite all, we arrived higg, dry and tired in Jackson Missouri, near Cape Girardeau home of FOJTY. We had a great dinner there, the first of two very nice meals.. the subject of the next Feeder.

And we did need to


Road Work Day One

Traveling and Blogging are not concurrent...

Friday we got on our way about 9:00. No matter what we do, how much we plan, alarms set, good intentions, we always start at nine. I don’t understand it, but it happens. Anyway, the MOMSTER pointed west and off we went. MFO decided to modify our normal route (into VA, 95 south to Richmond, I64, I81, I64 again to Charleston, to Illinois to STL) and after going over the Harry Nice Bridge, we branched off through Fredericksburg, and eventually Front Royal where we picked up I81 south until (are you still with us?)and then branced off on US33 which bridged the mountains over to I79. Needless to say on a smaller "non-interstate" road you have to contend with things like:


But you also benefit from seeing things closer up


And “real” non national chain places such as

And although we were in the “back woods” of West (BG) Virginia, relatively unpopulated and small, there was one constant in a town of any size

always a lot of folk.

Due to the ups and downs and rounds and switching through the mountains we fell short of our intended spot to RON, and instead we got off the road weary and stayed in Mt. Sterling, KY. And also due to the rigors of the road and the hour, dinner consisted of

And I won’t tell you how we were


day two coming up!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Journey Begins...

Catch up, mop up day.

Tomorrow morning we load up the MOMSTER and point west toward St. Louis. We will be able to visit both the FOJ’s and then MFO will continue on to Wisconsin and I will return here via the airline with the funny pilots you may have heard about in the news. Brown notebook, camera, and keen powers of observation will go along, and provide fodder for the feeder. We do have a couple of opportunities for food intake scheduled that sound promising, so hopefully good reports (depending….) to follow. So, for the next few days, publication may be hampered by the vagaries of hotel internet access, signal strengths and so forth. That, and with the installation of MS IE 9, Blogger (my vehicle for publication) has some interface issues. Damn technology!!

And just to leave you with a fashion note, you know that these days camouflage clothing is all the rage. Well, apparently it extends to the insect world as well..

he/she visited our garage yesterday...

So, until an unknown future date…bon voyage!

And we of course packed clothing to support


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Letting off Steam...

These things build up, one here, one there, and finally the valve pops, and I have to release the pressure by ranting a bit…here’s a couple that have bugged me lately


The July issue of Food & Wine arrived recently with a photo of eleven folks dressed in chef coats looking generally happy. The coats were fairly long sleeved, but a close inspection revealed no indications of “body art” (although I would be a fool if I thought there weren’t any), and also no studs, rings, or other piercing jewelry was visible. But the reason they were there was because they were this year’s crop of “Best New Chefs” (that word again) which are selected every year. Fine, that’s great; it will help their restaurant and maybe give somebody a nudge into the profession. Oh, did I mention that Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t make the cut?

All that is good. No beef (ha ha) there. But, but, the pressure started to build when I saw the tag line under the “Best New Chefs” cover head line was this tag: “and their simplest recipes”. What’s the matter with these publishers? And even down in the lower corner of the same issue is the line: “Grill like a chef on July 4th”. I guess their general impression of “the public” is that they are a bunch of incompetent cooks, unable to decipher a recipe calling for a sauté or braise or something requiring even the basic of kitchen skills. I can see it now…

Chef Whisk’s easiest recipe:


Medium Sized Pan
A source of water.


1. Fill a non-reactive pan with water by holding it just below the tap to avoid spillage, and fill with cold water to just an inch or two below the rim. Tip: mark the end of a wooden spoon with a magic marker in one inch increments, and use this to verify the surface of the water is an inch below the rim.

2. Place pan on a burner, cover, and apply medium to medium high heat.

3. In fifteen minutes or so, the lid will begin rattling and bouncing. With a pot holder carefully lift the lid. If there are bubbles rolling up on the surface of the water, it’s done!

4. Remove from heat and enjoy your Boiled Water!

Gosh, Chef Whisk! That is so neat! Like, I can’t wait to try it!! I’ll be just like a chef!

Don't tell

And then there’s the whole subject of “secrets”. How many times have you seen the headline or article with something like “Chef’s Secrets Revealed!”, or “Chef Whisk demonstrates the secret to (whatever)”. See, if only you knew this secret, you could immediately become a chef de cuisine in that three starred restaurant! Well, here’s one for you: the “Secret” of making a buerre blanc.

Get yourself a dozen or so eggs, 4 pounds of butter, shallots, white wine and white wine vinegar, and find a recipe. Then, make ten or fifteen buerre blancs, over and over. You fail, you try again. Maybe it takes a day, maybe it takes 20 times, but eventually you will be able to make one confidently any time you want to.

The secret? Hard work and practice. You think people like Jacques Pepin or Daniel Boulud became great chefs by doing shortcuts and “easy” recipes? Don’t think so. Years of miserable work in a hot kitchen learning by doing. That’s the “Secret”. What crap.

Sporting life

And, the “secret” mentality is not limited to cooking. Sports are the same. Ever see those golf magazines with a cover that says something like: “Take ten strokes from your score instantly with this tip!” Sports people tend to use “tips”, but it means the same as secret. One little thing like moving your pinky finger an inch down the shaft will immediately produce a consistent swing like Rory McIlroy.. never mind hitting hundreds of practice balls, just move that pinky..

I agree with H. L. Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public

last rant more sports:

I don’t know when this became “allowable”, but now we see sideline “Reporters” inserting themselves into the action during the game/match. Couple of examples: during a recent College World Series game when the opposing team just scored 5 runs on them, the floozy women sticks a microphone in the manager’s face and says something inane like “How are you going to come back from this?”; or “what was going through your mind when that 5th run crossed the plate?”. Coaches want to coach, not give a deep psychological analysis of themselves. I suppose they have agreed to this or the NCAA/ESPN shoved it down their throats but it’s stupid.

Then in the recent series for Lord Stanley’s Cup, they stationed some idiot “between the glass” who would comment on the play on the ice. “They’re going to have to score more goals if they want to win this!”. Wowee! Or, just before the crucial game seven he asks some player who is obviously zoned out, pumped up for the game with vacant and steely eyes: “how are you going to recover after getting shut out last game”; or to the coach during the game “how are you going to stop their power play?”.

During my years of coaching hockey, if some idiot came on my bench and asked me something stupid like that, I would have received a game misconduct for attempt to injure.. Just cover the game, don’t help

okay, pressure gage reads normal.....for now

And for this I won’t even remind you to


Monday, June 20, 2011

One, Two, and a Surprise on the Weekend


We began a busy weekend by attending the 2011 inaugural River Concert at St. Mary’s College. Perhaps the forecast of severe weather (which was certainly evident the previous evening) kept people away, but we thought it was lightly attended. For instance you could kind of set up camp (at least in the serious listener section) pretty much where ever you wanted, and would have to reach to touch your neighbors instead of being jammed in there. The music seemed kind of uninspired to me, but geez after 13 (!) years, maybe it gets tough. Of course the social aspects are always fun, you get to see lots of friends and chat. Not many surprises on the culinary side with usual set of suspects, although there were a couple of additional caterers with (as I recall) Grizzly Mountain offering yet more barbeque, and Canards with some fresh salads and wraps. We opted for the salads and found them to be quite tasty. On the liquid side of things, Slack and Port of Leonardtown wineries are now offering their wines in the Rotary “beer booth”. At least for this concert (and I think the rest) a representative from each winery was there to talk about the wines. Very nice selections. As it turned out we lucked on the weather and were quite comfortable. Quite weather dependant, but a nice way to spend an evening if you don’t have anything to do….


Saturday, we attended the annual Sotterley Plantation's “Gala”, which was dubbed “Picnic in Paris”. It was catered by Ken Upton of Ken’s Creative Kitchens out of Annapolis. That is the same outfit that does the annual Hospital Gala in November. One feature I particularly liked was a tray of assorted pâtés, both smooth and “rough”

Accompanied by cornichons, baguettes, and mustards as it should be. There was also passed apps of crostini, little tarts, the usual selections. And, you can’t miss on an open bar. Being a fund raiser, there were “oodles” of items both silent and “live”. The auctioneer was Dan Raley, our retired County Commissioner. He is quite talented with a microphone in his hand. Anyway he finally inveigled the flutters to part with some retirement cash, and we got a pretty sparkling opportunity. Details to dribble out. Our local Parisian, Chef Loic was also there. A pretty nice event. Consider it next year..

The surprise

And then yesterday on Father’s day, we met a friend from DC for an early dinner. Neither of us wanted the full monty drive up or down, so it struck me that we could compromise and meet at Stoney’s on Broome Island. And, that’s what we did. I am not fond of the two arms of Stoney’s over on the Solomon’s, but hadn’t been to the mother ship for a long time (years?) and thought this was a good way to revisit. I must admit, my memories of previous visits revolved around “smelly”, “flies”, “ugly”, and “so-so food" (including the award winning crabcake of the 80’s) so I took the little brown notebook and prepared for the worst.

Well, once in a great while the Feeder is wrong in his expectations. I am happy and pleasntly surprised to report that all of those issues no longer apply (well, we’ll get to the food). The oyster house that gave rise to the first three objections has been removed and replaced with a lovely little landscaped park area with water features, that also has an event tent on it. It’s quite an attractive area and provides a much better view for diners at the bar/restaurant. Would be a nice venue for a reception or even a wedding.

Since I was interested to see if Rory McIlroy could hold it together and win the US Open, we opted to sit in the bar in view of the flatscreen (yes, yes, I know, but it WAS Father’s day), but later moved to the enclosed portion of the deck. Memory fails, so I don’t know if there has been a “makeover”, but the place is light and airy inside, with many of those gorgeous carved fish and birds that adorn all of their properties. Our friend preceded us, and was halfway through his glass of wine by the time we joined him. He had already struck up a conversation with one of the (many) servers, an attractive young lady who was a student at nearby CSM-Prince Frederick.

Probably this is a good a time as any to tackle this observation. It’s kind of a delicate subject, but a good restaurant food writer has to report what he observes and this was very obvious. The above description of our server pretty much characterizes the entire wait staff that was there. I think they were entirely female, “young”, attractive to look at, very friendly, and all had the “uniform” of a Stoney’s Tee Shirt and khaki shorts. The rest is left to the speculation of the readers. I am not sure that is totally a coincidence.

Our version approached the table, and although all of us were much older and MFO was with us, we must have heard “you guys” with every conversation we had. Hi, can I get you guys something to drink? Are you guys ready to order? How is everything for you guys? Can I get you guys anything else? It is common and probably ordinary parlance for their generation, but it gets old (ha ha) and is innacurate. The bar seemed to be the rallying point for the staff, and I think it was shift change because there was a lot of conversation to the tone of “Brittany, are you working Tuesday?” “Are you guys coming in tomorrow?” And, with the flat walls, it was pretty noisy.

Okay, let’s leave that phase of things and move to the food. I won’t dwell on the menu, it’s a pretty standard one for a waterfront place, sandwiches, salads, baskets, and platters of the usual stuff. I didn't see hard crabs go by, but did hear whacking from outside so they must have been available We started out with an order of crab dip: “I’ll go get that started for you guys”, and we all ended up with a baby crab cake dinner including the ubiquitous choices of two sides. Onion rings, cole slaw, French fries, and potato salad in combinations made up our six.

The crab dip came out and I thought it was very good. It was a nice creamy consistency with big hunks of lump, hot but not scalding and an adequate supply of crackers and bread (a common failing). About the time the cakes arrived, it was apparent that Rory was not going to crack, so we moved out to the enclosed porch. Better view, but a six top of “contractors” and more flat walls provided another sound issue.

Of course Stoney’s built their reputation with their crab cake, judged the “best”, my favorite word, by the Washington Post many, many, years ago. Since I rant a fair amount about “best” I won’t argue that point. You like which crab cake you like and I’m happy for you. Personally I have never been much of a fan of theirs. The spherical shape makes it hard to get it hot inside, although the outside was a nice golden brown. It was about the size of a tennis ball, maybe a little smaller. I thought it lacked much lump, and had little binder and almost no (to me) discernable spice. So it's very dependant on the flavor of the crab, and although okay, I thought it was a bit short. Not bad, just not special. A hint of old bay, or a pinch of paprika would help for me. You like what you like. The single crab cake dinner with (Sysco like) two sides was $18.50 (Market price on the menu)

Anyway, it was an acceptable meal, the servers were friendly and their service was what it was, (a request for another napkin went unheeded), but the setting is nice, I would try to sit outside next time to avoid the noise, and personally I would return there rather than the closer Solomon’s versions..

And there certainly isn’t much issues with



this is only a test. been having some technical difficulties lately. If this was real, there would be insightful, penetrating, informative content. That is in work..

Nice job Rory!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Q2 and ToDo

Happy Friday...

No more than had the “Q” issue hit the ether (with my N things taken….) when I got a comeback from (math teacher) FOJTE “reminding” me that combinations of “r” items taken from “n” items is n!/(n-r)!r!. Of course that is what I meant. So, I got to thinking of a barbeque sandwich. There’s bread, meat, sauce (or not), condiments, toppings, at a minimum. So for the sake of argument, let’s say you have 5 bread choices of common white, regular bun, hoagie roll, corn bread and those whole wheat pancakes.. 6 types of meat, 4 preps (sliced, pulled, chopped, etc.) 8 sauces, 4 rubs, 5 condiments. Then I wasn’t really sure the formula applied (don’t want a sandwich of all bread, for instance). So then FOJTE recalled the fundamental counting rule, m*n*p*q gives the number of results possible, which might be more appropriate. So in above, we would have 5*6*4*8*4*5 different sandwiches. That’s a whole lot of sandwiches!! No wonder there’s such a variety. Now I’m hungry again.. Oh, before we leave the ‘cue, I wanted to pass along a little paragraph sent to me by a loyal (U of I alum) reader that I thought caught the essence of what this cuisine is all about :

“After an evening out, a carload of us would go to a diner down near the railroad tracks in Champaign. It was called Po Boy's and was operated by a huge African American guy named Arnie and his lovely wife who we just thought of as Arnie's woman. You could have your beef at just about any heat level you wanted, or just dry with no sauce. I think that many people think of barbeque beef or pork as shredded meat totally immersed in sauce but this place served up dry meat which you "slathered" with how ever much or how hot a barbeque sauce you wanted. They served it opened faced on one of two slices of white bread so you could eat it that way or try and pick it up.”

Just right, thanks for sharing!!

To Do (rhymes with Q 2)

A few more options this weekend, beginning with tonight’s inaugural River Concert at St. Mary’s College, the place to see and be seen. The kickoff event will be “A Wintry Mix in June” which I guess arises from the fact that it features Finnish and Russian music. With Mr. Silberschlag involved one never knows. There will be food available from vendors of course. I hear that Canard's Catering will be there, which is the same people that used to be Brome Howard Inn. That can only be good.

On the liquid side of things, my local civic organization will be offering a selection of adult beverages. A new wrinkle this year is that wines from local sources will be offered by us. The Port of Leonardtown Winery will have a couple of their wines available, and Slack Winery from Ridge will also have some offerings. Both of these sources are supplying better and better wines. Port of Leonardtown's wines tend to be a bit lighter (and a bit sweeter) than Slack who is putting out (IMHO) some very impressive wines lately. If their Yellowlegs is available it's worth a taste. But, you should taste around and see what you like.. MFO and I will see you there!

Another very local event is happening tomorrow (Saturday), the Juneteenth Celebration, paying homage to the Nation’s oldest celebration of the end of Slavery in the United States. It dates back to 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston Texas to announced the end of the war with news of emancipation. Locally it will be held tomorrow in Freedom Park, generally just across the street from Linda’s in Lexington Park. There is always wonderful locally prepared food, great music, and dancing. No cost, noon to 8:30.

And although I’ve never attended one there is a Sanford Concert Series event tomorrow evening (7:30) at St. Andrews church in (our) California. A small fee is charged. Two Rivers will be presenting doing choral works from religious to popular.

And lastly the Graywolf Vineyard in Avenue will be hosting a “Summer Field Day” from nine to four. They will feature presentations on growing, pest management, and starting a vineyard. I think they’re part of the Cooperative that includes Port of Leonardtown.. looks like a fee applies.

Tomorrow MFO and I will be attending Historic Sotterley Plantations annual fund raiser, this year dubbed “Picnic in Paris”. Advanced reservations required. I hear the caterer is the same one who does the Hospital Banquet, so of course it’s our duty to investigate.


I noticed in today’s local newspaper there’s an article about the goats at Historic St. Mary’s City which of course was debuted in the Feeder way last week. No doubt spurred on by my coverage.

And to close out, readers will remember that a few blogs ago I wondered about where one could live with a wardrobe of a sweater. The votes rolled in and both of them recommended Seattle.

go forth and


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It’s funny about food. Brilliant, eh? There are all kind of articles and recipes published for the “best” (something) . As much as I harp about the dumb word “best”, there are probably some items that you can roughly apply this to. Like maybe a steak where there aren’t too many variables. It’s done or not done, grilled or pan fried, but out the other end is a cooked piece of meat that maybe you can regard of as “best”. People don’t much go out of their way for this steak or that..

But there are some foods that people really get excited about, and I kind don’t like the word, but passionate is probably appropriate. A lot of this kind of food is regional. There are devotees of Chicago Pizza, New York Pizza, Imo’s from St. Louis, that kind of thing. Crab cakes are another example, although somebody needs to explain to me what “Maryland Style” crab cakes are sometime. Coming up the passionate scale would be Chili – beans, no beans, meat, no meat, beef, venison, and the folks from Cincinnati who put cheese on it no less. And actually I would put chili almost as a subset of the king of regional foods, Barbeque!

Every year, the food magazines will devote a whole issue (usually June or July) or at least include a major section on barbeque. I gathered some as few and went through them, Saveur Cover: “BBQ Nation”; (STL's) Sauce: “Barbeque”; Cook’s Country: “Guide to the perfect ribs”; Food & Wine’s “Grilling Issue” with articles including “Learning to Barbeque helped make me a man!; Pit Master Recipes Made Easy – Cheater’s Barbeque, and also recipes including: Country-Style Ribs with Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce (trite); Rob Walsh’s Texas Barbequed Brisket”, on and on. We already know Bon Appétit’s June issue featured a grinning Gwyneth Paltrow, a far cry from barbeque, although I guess she does have ribs. And finally Garden and Gun, my current fav, has a cover picture of a pulled pork sandwich and a major article inside called “The South in a Sandwich – BBQ”.

The latter does their usual great job of blending photos and substance, with some 36 places (Bear’s Restaurant, Covington Louisiana; Bunn’s Barbeque, Windsor, North Carolina, etc.) and sandwiches. Saveur focuses on not only the places and sandwiches, but has wonderful pictures of the people. It’s worth the price of the issue for them alone. The feature story is by John T. Edge, who alert readers will know is head of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and knows his culture and stuff.

And out of this comes an astonishing variety of preparation of such humble beginnings, with basic cuts of beef, pork, and yes, chicken..(we’ll ignore the salmon of the northwest ). Just to hit a few: Pork Ribs, Chicken parts, pulled pork, beef ribs, brisket, sausage, burnt ends, tri-tip, on and on. The method and preparation of all these tends to be extremely geographical. There are major differences between east and western North Carolina for instance. In Memphis you can get barbeque spaghetti or bologna. In Kentucky there’s chopped mutton. Texas? Beef territory. Preparations vary. Chopped or pulled? Shoulder or whole hog? Baste or rub? And after you chop or slice or pull, you can make a sandwich. Bread? How about sub roll, regular bun, corn bread, white bread, potato bun. At Papa Kayjoe’s you can get your shredded Boston Butt between cornmeal pancakes. Now, what do you add? Slaw? Bacon strips? Pickles? Onions? And then there’s the side fixin’s… cole slaw (Lexington style red or Sorth Carolina vinegar?); hush puppies, banana pudding (??).

And, of course there would be another whole volume about the holy sauce. Heavy tomato (in the Delta region and Texas); Light tomato (eastern North Carolina; Georgia); Mustard (South Carolina); Vinegar-pepper (East Carolina, Western Kentucky); White Sauce (Northern Alabama, notably Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur AL). All of which are of course personalized according to the secret family recipes, tradition and so on. And of course Rubs, basting sauce..

In reading over above, I come away with “holy cow, feeder, you’re all over the place – it’s confusing!” And that is precisely the whole point. How in the world can there be a "best"? What a variation.. If I remember my statistics class, there was some formula like “N things taken N at a time” that will give you the number of combinations. Think about all the stuff above and that’s exactly what happens. It’s the melting pot in America in action. People arrived from different cultures with various eating traditions and translated them with what was familiar and available. How cool is that?

I’m not sure you could make a case for Barbeque being our national dish, but pretty close. Right here in good old Southern Maryland, how many barbeque places, trucks, stands, caterers are there? Many. I have a friend who says “I could eat Barbeque every day”, and FOJTY has been known to drive hundreds of miles just to get his fix in Kansas City or Memphis.

Just keep your eye out as you travel around the country, find the local places and enjoy. Meet the real people.

And maybe just this once you can

D however the heck you darn well please

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Heat goes on....

Apologies for no Friday edition, but I sort of hit the highlights (with the exception of a couple of Crab Fest related items, one of which is today at the fairgrounds) of “to do” on Thursday’s edition. Friday went by just staying inside, although I did make a nice turkey melt for supper (with that horrible bread – which when toasted firms up a bit).

Yesterday was a bit more interesting because I had “Chapel Duty”, and if you remember it was also “Goat Day” at Historic St. Mary’s City. So, on the way out to the Chapel, I stopped and visited the little critters who were busy doing their jobs of clearing out the undesirable undergrowth.

Although some weren’t quite as enthusiastic about it..

While others sort of gave me the evil eye

And I guess one sort of thought I was funny

But then, I trudged out to the chapel

And it’s welcoming door

As the day wore on, it was apparent that people like goats more than chapels, as I had two visitors while I saw many more gathering to watch the goats. I think I mentioned that there is an industry for these animals.

And by the time I headed home after over three hours of sitting (and the two intrepid souls) I noticed a marked difference in the amount of growth that had been consumed..Great idea.

While at the chapel I had other visitors besides the two legged ones.

A fun day, albeit it got kind of hot in the afternoon.

Sooo….in order to keep the food aspect included (although I guess technically the goats were dining)

We supported Restaurant Week last night by visiting the Front Porch for apps and sips and one of the “local” apps was a very nice crab spring roll, which we urged to be put on the menu permanently, and think there’s a shot..Then after riding out a nasty thunderstorm (why, yes, I believe I will have another), we got our passports out and ventured deep into the Seventh District to dine at Morris Point where local rockfish and perch were on the menu. It’s always an interesting experience at Morris Point. I think long ago I mentioned you feel like you’re in their home, not in a restaurant. Minimal separation between dining and kitchen spaces makes you feel like you just dropped in for dinner.

And we were appropriately


Thursday, June 9, 2011


As hard as I know it will be, because you’re so eager to dive into the Feeder, stop reading right now! (If you haven’t already) go look at today's google’s doodle celebrating Les Paul’s birthday. I’ll bet you’ll be gone for a little while. It is very engaging. They’re so smart… Go on, I’ll wait right here..

Dum, de dum..........Welcome back! As it’s so miserably hot outside you probably don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on me, so we’ll be kind of brief (for me).

A quick rant…esoteric, but as usual it’s the little things that get you. Now that I’m retired, I often fix myself a sandwich here at the digs for lunch. Normally I get Boar’s Head deli meat, like corned beef, or some variety of chicken, and sometimes bologna. I try to steer away from anything that has that annoying little “skin” on the outside that you have to peel off to avoid getting it stuck in your teeth. Anyway, my beef (pun intended) is not with the filling, but with the “bread”. Why can’t somebody open a bakery around here that makes nice French Baguettes or Country Loaves? Yes I know there is the St. Louis Bread Company (Panera’s) and the Wildewood place (usually out of bread), but it’s kind of a pain to make special trips. So, I have done research on “commercial” breads and eventually settled on Pepperidge Farm’s Original White. It has some texture, is not wafer thin, and stands up to the mustard or whatever. Problem is, it never seems to be in the stores. When it is, I usually buy a couple of loaves and freeze one. More often than not, there is none on the shelves. So, yesterday being out of bread entirely and finding the cupboard bare in the store, I took little loaf of Dark Pumpernickel. I figured that a dark bread might have more substance than the plethora of “light”, “very thin” and (what a joke) “sandwich breads”. So, I got it home and did the usual struggle with the Pepperidge Farm double wrap, only to find an airy, pithy slice of dark something. It even tore the bread when trying to gently spread the (warm) butter. Wonder bread of the dark world. Sheesh…

Getting a jump on “to do”…

This Saturday there’s a couple of interesting opportunities being made available at Historic St. Mary’s City. On the culinary side there is “Colonial Cooking Challenge”. Don’t think we’ll see Bobby Flay for a throw down, but it will be a unique opportunity to learn about food preparation in the colonial times. Being held at the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, the Spray family members will help you prepare your lunch, from building your own fire from scratch, to making a pie. How fun is that? A great insight as to how the first colonists got along. Starts at ten, and there’s a $20 fee for supplies which includes admission to the rest of the museum. To reserve, call 240.895.4489.

The Feeder would be there, except he is signed up for “Chapel Duty” out at the reconstructed Chapel. Which is great, because I’ll have a ring side seat for the other event Saturday, witnessing “Goats Vs. Aliens”! Little green men in suits? Nope, in this case the Aliens are non native, invasive plant species. They tend to “take over” the native plants (such as the colonists would have seen) and are a general nuisance and the Museum would like to be rid of them.. well… eco goats to the rescue!! Turns out the critters love to munch on the bad plants and that enterprising individual is going to bring his herd of goats to the “City” for battle Saturday (12 – 2) Monday (11 – 1). There will be light refreshments, including what else: Goat Cheese. How can you pass up an opportunity like that? Goats (like butterflies) are free. I’ll have the trusty Canon along to document (yes I’ll leave my post for a bit). My mind reels with scenarios..

So that’s about it for a Thursday.

Oh, the new folks down on St. George’s Island have dubbed the makeover “Island Bar and Crab House”. I have heard some encouraging words about the direction of food service. Stay tuned while you


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heat Wave and This and That

Well, here we go again. Temperatures are projected to reach the upper nineties tomorrow and Thursday. It’s only single digits June for goodness sakes, and we’re already suffering.. Where can you live where all you need is a sweater year round?

Anyway, the weekend passed without much notice, we did go over to Leonardtown for First Friday, and hit the usual spots. We didn’t think that it was as heavily attended as sometimes we’ve been, but we were on the early side..

So, with the brain getting ready to shut down to allow the body to be more cool, just a few things have caught my eye lately that might be worth passing on..

I saw a little blurb on TV about some restaurant was going to replace servers with I-Pads. They would contain the menu, specials, and so forth, allowing you order directly from your table. I can see it now: “press one to see the drinks, two to see the appetizers, ….” And so forth. I suppose they can even have a little audio recording that says: “Hi, I’m I-Pad 65289, and I’ll be screwing up your order tonight..”. Might lower tips I suppose.. what’s the world coming to?

Somehow I seem to be noticing Bon Appétit lately (the folks who brought you cook book author and celebrity Gwyneth). On the cover of May’s “The Italy Issue”, there was this tickler for an inside article: “Cook Like a (Real) Italian”. Say what? What the heck does that mean? Alternatives might be: Cook Like a (Fake) Italian, Cook Like a (Dead) Italian, or Cook Like a (Bad) Italian. Not sure where that magazine is going..

Don’t know if you saw Tom Sietsema’s review of an addition to L’Auberge Chez Francois: Jacques’ Brasserie. L’Auberge has been a fixture on the DC scene since the fifties, and serves mainly Alsatian cuisine (which, as you know tends to be heavy). They have now opened the brasserie downstairs as a less formal (but you still have to DFD) and less expensive alternative. After describing some of the dishes, toward the end of the article there is this sentence: “Looking for a lighter choucroute? The Brasserie can replace the meat with seafood – smoked trout, salmon, and maybe rockfish”. I read that, and thought Hah! Gotcha! He meant charcuterie! I even logged on the Wash Post site and sent him an email. But, after doing a little looking I think maybe he is correct. It is left to the student to see what I’m talking about. You need to know the difference between those two words…

And for extra credit, what is a “turophile”? you need to know that also..

Changes and makeovers;

I learned last week that the current owners of the “Island Bar and Grill” and associated Inn on St. George’s Island will be be replaced by Cherry Cove, the local firm that managed the defunct Daugherty Conference Center, and currently runs the Hilton properties in town and on the Solomons. You might remember that the place has had various owners and makeovers (like adding decks). Long time county folk will remember that location started life as “Evan’s” the now legendary home of “Family Style Seafood Dinners”. When I first began to come to Pax River for various test programs in the late 70’s, a highlight of the trip was to get a bunch of folks and go there for dinner. Overlooking St. Mary’s River on one side and the Potomac on the other, you sat at long tables covered with brown paper and had a feast. Piles of hard crabs (or oysters depending), were followed by bowls of chowder and soups, trays of broiled and fried rockfish, crab balls, shrimp, scallops, fried chicken, hush puppies, coleslaw, and stuff I forgot. And they just kept coming until everybody was sated. Pitchers of beer were passed. It was a wonderful experience. I remember sharing an evening with Gallagher the comedian who had relatives down here or something. If you didn’t know all the people at your table when you sat down, after passing the hushpuppies and wearing flying bits of crabshell, you would by the end of the evening, giving true meaning to “if you’re here you’re family”.

My point being that this unique experience was well worth the thirty minute drive from Lexington Park, and you would love doing it. With the passing of “Bugs” the restaurant began to decline, they cut back on the family style, raised the prices, and eventually folded. Then came a series of makeovers and finally a complete gutting and rebuilding, adding the “Inn” and so forth. But what they couldn’t recreate was the experience of “family style” that made you want to go there. It was just another restaurant. You could still get seafood there of course, but it wasn’t anything better than what you could get in places much closer. And, like it or not, with the growth around the Base, many more options became available. So it is against this backdrop that I do hope the new team will be able make a go of it. But I am fearful that that old bugaboo of “location, location, location” will be hard to overcome. Make it unique, and I’ll go more than once..

And yes, I will still


Friday, June 3, 2011

A tale of two lunches...and Friday??!!

Gosh another Friday…

Lunch One

I have oft extolled the pleasure of a good lunch and the benefits of taking a break in the day. I’m not talking about a work-a-day “grab and go” experience, but a chance to share some time with a friend, take your time, and hopefully enjoy food. Being “retired” affords me more chances to do this. So this week I had not one but two opportunities to lunch. The first was with a friend at CD Café on the Solomons. I don’t go there often, but it is a reliable source of above average food. I will still not forgive their “no reservations” policy, and there are a few understandable reasons for it, but they seem to be more for the benefit of the restaurant than its customers. So, even though we arrived at the little late lunch hour of one, we were forced to sit on the hard benches in the hall for about 15 minutes. And, I couldn’t help but noticing through the doors that there were quite a few vacated tables while we waited. I think maybe if they would employ somebody whose sole job it is to clear and clean, it would help to turn the tables faster. Making the servers bus the tables in addition to their main task slows things down. And when we were seated making the room full again it was quite noisy. The fact that there was so much hubbub going on somehow enables your conversation to remain private since the din is such you can’t hear what’s going on at the next table even though they are quite close. And while commenting on the spaces, I still don’t particularly care for the view of the street.

But, there is a reason that people sit on hard benches, put up with the noise and the (lack of) view, and it is the food that brings you back despite the aforementioned hassles. It’s not spectacular or innovative, but you can pretty well be assured that you will receive a good meal, and there are plenty of choices available on the menu (one might say too many) plus there are usually specials for first, second, and dessert courses. My friend chose an off the menu crab cake sandwich (hold the bread), and after waffling some, I settled on CD Chicken a staple on the menu for years. The only criticism that could be offered was that the side salad with the crab cake was kind of dry. My chicken was a plenty, breaded and crunchy outside with moist and juicy inside. The greens on my salad were nicely dressed with their green goddess dressing. As conversation flowed other customers were leaving (it was well after two now), and by the time we finished our key lime pie and cheesecake with coffee, we were the only table occupied save one of the servers whose wife and kid came in. We chatted for a bit more and left contented. Time to sit and chat and share is good.

Lunch Two

The second lunch was enjoyed at Café Des Artistes in Leonardtown. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t very crowded yesterday (Thursday), and once again by the time we left, the only other people in the place were staff, folding napkins and preparing for the dinner service. In my younger days, I would have been self conscious (for both lunches) by being the remaining table. I’ve gotten over that, and feel quite comfortable. Besides that, it is quiet, and you can have nice conversations. Since the last time I was there, the wall art has changed, some of the paint has been freshened, and I understand a new floor rug is on the way. But, it’s still kind of eclectically cozy (although the plastic flowers hanging from the ceiling are wearing old), but again, you know what you’re going to get and consistency is good. That applies to the menu which has been honed over the years (!) to a set of choices that have proven popular. There are always daily specials on the “pink sheet”. After nearly an hour of sharing this and that (plus a glass or so of wine) we did get to food, and we both selected “today’s quiche” and both a side Caesar. The quiche was mushroom, cheese, and spinach. Alert readers will remember that I have a thing about Caesar salads, and also know I’m a bit conservative. Don’t mess with success. Don’t “de construct”, don’t add shrimp or chicken, don’t use vinaigrette, don’t use fried polenta croutons, and for God’s sake anchovies are an essential ingredient. So, when I ordered I asked if chef could put a couple of anchovy filets on top. When I got the salad, it had sharp creamy dressing, lovely shredded parmesan, eatable pieces of romaine, and what my friend described as “a school of anchovies”. There must have been eight or nine of the salty little guys. A great salad, and the quiche was equally well prepared. Café is as close as we can get to a French restaurant down here, with some classic dishes, and always French approach to the cuisine. I think I can count on one hand the times I have been in there when Chef Loic was not in the kitchen. Always there, and that’s why it is consistent.

Friday Notes:

I am not going through the “to do” litany for the coming weekend. As I said, temps going up, schools are out, and there are less events. And, as (I hope) you know, next week will be the start of restaurant and wine weeks (go out and consume!) and there is plenty of publicity around about it.. Check it out. Today’s Enterprise pull out section “Weekend”, has a story about Chef’s American Bistro and Chef Ahmed, but also more information about the participating restaurants. They all will feature local stuff which is starting to roll in now.

Also in the newspaper there is another pull out called “Stay-Cation Guide ~ 101 things to see and do (and eat) this summer”. It’s a pretty good list of museums, parks, wineries, some eateries, and so forth. Good idea… As some will know MFO is a volunteer at the Historical Society housed in Tudor Hall in Leonardtown. So naturally I wanted to see if it was included. Sure enough it’s there as number 97 (I am not sure how the list was ordered). But, it’s at the end of the page, and the description stops in the middle of a word, and…… that’s it. Ads, then the end of the section. List stops half way through number 97 and goes no farther. Nice job folks..

Of special note is that today is First Friday in Leonardtown. Usual options of food and fun there..

Also note (in the link above) that there is a fund raising event to support on of our soup kitchens this Sunday, at two in the community room at the Brass Rail. Naturally there will be food related items for auction. Only twenty bucks

So, have a nice weekend figuring out something to do, and if dining figures in of course you will