Friday, July 29, 2011

Pickin' and Grinnin'

A couple of years ago, a friend and I got in his boat and went up the (Patuxent) river to the Sea Breeze, and had some great hard crabs. I probably reported about it. We have been meaning to recreate that experience ever since, and for one reason or another have not been able to.

He recently had that “second best day of a boat owner” experience, so river travel wasn’t an option this time, but we finally managed to make good our intentions last night. In the intervening time between last night and the original episode, my mind somehow had changed “Sea Breeze” into “Drift Inn”, so we pointed the flutter mobile north and confidently turned at Captain Leonard’s toward the water and the Drift Inn. After driving a little while, we passed a sign about Drift Inn, but thought it was an advertisement and kept going. And going. And going. Pretty soon it became evident that the car was again heading east with no sign of a waterfront, let alone a crab house. Hmmm, maybe we should have turned back there. So did a 180 and retraced our many steps back to the sign. Sure enough, turn here. We did. And again drove and drove, and by this time the smart phone GPS was activated and showed we were in fact headed for the water, but with only one building at the end. I distinctly remembered that Sandgates was right by the Drift Inn, so was puzzled by that. Eventually we did arrive at the building with the Drift Inn sign, but hey! This isn’t where we were! More consulting with the smartphone revealed we were in fact not at the right spot. More driving (humbly aided by satellite this time) eventually brought us to the Sandgates Inn and the nearby…….. Sea Breeze!! That’s it!! But we did have a nice drive through the northern part of the county.

There were quite a few cars, so while I parked, the possibility of a table was checked and I was waived in. While we were “please wait to be seated”, the young lady at the stand was busily typing something into the computer system (a nice foil to the traditional “crab shack” atmosphere). After quite a few minutes, she started writing something on a clip board, still head down “ignoring” us, although she had set out our menus earlier. Eventually my friend said, “um, are you going to seat us?”. Never raising her head or eyes, she replied “my pen ran out of ink”. Oh. I see.

Finally whatever administrative task she was attending to was accomplished and we were taken to a table along the windows facing the water with quite a nice view. After our driving tour, we were pretty thirsty and hungry. Before she left us, she wrote “Rose” on the brown paper with her now working pen and departed. Soon thereafter Rose showed up and asked about drinks. A pitcher of Miller Light, please, and an order of hush puppies. Off she went to retrieve that while we perused the menu. Of course all we wanted were steamed crabs which were listed as that famous “market price” for a dozen. Market price in the end turned out to be forty bucks, but it’s been so long I really don’t know if that is indeed “market” price. It certainly didn’t deter other diners as there were many platters of the crustaceans on the tables strewn with bits and pieces of shells, dead men, and just plain crab guts. Pretty quickly she returned with a red plastic basket (of course) of the little lumps of dough and the welcomed very cold beer in that cheesy plastic pitcher that is required. We ordered the crabs, and got down to business. Water view, cold beer, hush puppies, and Old Bay in the air. Doesn’t get much better. The hush puppies were steaming hot, and were really very good. They were nicely crisp on the outside, and not heavy on the inside with many kernels of corn. Hit the spot and took the edge off.

And, just before the last little morsel of puppie was consumed, the steamed crabs arrived, all orange and with the requisite Old Bay aroma. They in fact must have just come out of the steamer because you could hardly touch them, let alone going for the meat. I thought that they were not as “Old Bayed” as some I’ve had which let the flavor of the crab come through. So after a cooling off period, we waded in, and began picking. It had been a while since I had done this, so it took a few minutes to recall the technique (thank you Ms. TB) and I did pretty well. Many times I got that whole lump from the backfin. Talking, picking and enjoying and slurping the beer. We did manage to get through all the (13) crabs and split the last one. Just about the right amount. Rose, who had many years on most of the rest of the waitstaff, was pleasant to talk to when she checked occasionally. She said to come back in September or October when the crabs were “really big”. I think we will. I’m sure there are other places around but think you would be happy here. They have a great bar area as well, which is as big as the dining spaces. A “Just Right” place in my book.

I suppose there are similar experiences around the country, but sitting down to a brown paper covered table with that little cardboard caddy of cocktail sauce, malt vinegar, shakers of Old Bay, salt and pepper, and communally digging into a pile of crabs where you really interact with the food is a nice thing. Brings people together over food, and with the tedious cracking of the crabs provides a time to converse and share experiences. A great feature of our region.

And for this menu, for once this is where you can revel in T-shirts, shorts, flip flops and your ball cap on backwards. That is appropriately


PS: normal Friday “to do” is kind of suspended this week due to the weather. Yes there will be a river concert tonight (last one for heaven’s sake), but my “to do” will be stay inside read a book and wait for nightfall.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not much and Nice....

As the heat and humidity goes up the brain goes down. Not much to report/or comment on lately.

They have replaced some of the (appropriately?) dead trees by Texas Roadhouse and I see the neon has been turned on. After Buffalo Wings and Beer arrive, I think maybe a ferris wheel and midway would be a nice addition.

Oh, since I often carp about the inhumanity of people (especially in their autos) I should pass along a good thing that happened yesterday morning. I decided that given the relatively nice day, I would stop by the car wash on the way back from Starbuck’s and get some layers of crud removed from the flutter mobile. This of course meant that I had to muck out the back seat which accumulates “junk” at an astonishing rate. One of the items I found buried was a measuring tape that somehow had found its way in there for some now long forgotten purpose. So I put it on the trunk lid (a very convenient flat space) and went about throwing away the Starbuck’s cuffies, old newspapers, various receipts, empty water bottles and such. Having gotten the interior “wash ready” I got in the car, and headed for Starbucks. You can probably guess what happened. Anyway I was sitting at the light by 235/4, ready for the U turn and looking at text messages (stopped auto, foot on brake), when I was startled by a knock on my window. There was a nice lady there with the measuring tape in her hand and gave it to me with a smile. Now, from the driveway of the digs to that location is three or four miles at least, with many stoplights and those inhumane drivers doing gosh knows what. I was amazed that the thing survived the journey. I thanked her for her kindness.

As it turned out, she was also headed for coffee, but once inside she declined my offer to buy hers. So see, there are some considerate people out there that save me from my own senility..

met some friends for drinks and apps last night at the Front Porch...good cheese plate.

Oh, in closing and without comment I pass on this photo taken at the local grocery affixed to the top of the bread shelves….

watch your step..and


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Little Better Today....

Well, the weather gods that caused my depression of yesterday must have felt guilty as they provided some relief yesterday afternoon. Clouds gathered from the north, thunder rumbled (sending me and John Deere into the garage) and rain began to fall. What followed was an extremely pleasant couple of hours of gray skies, gentle rains and a constant undertone of thunder. Never was anything threatening, just peaceful and calming. Maybe I should move to Seattle, although contacts there say that everybody is up in arms because they have a heat wave, with temperatures soaring into the low eighties.. Here the sun is beating down again, with temps projected into the nineties, but with lower humidity. Is it September yet?

And I did forget one food related snippet from the weekend.. Friday night after we bagged going to the River Concert (which I think stayed outdoors, by the way), we decided for some reason to get some takeout from Monterey, just up the road. Not finding a takeout menu kicking around the counter we had to navigate the website (which is very colorful and festive). As usual a stunning amount of choices and combinations to work through, but I finally settled on “Enchiladas Yolandas" which were described as Three chicken enchiladas topped with special sauce, served with rice and guacamole salad. MFO selected a burrito dish. Called and ordered, and then in a few minutes drove up and retrieved it. It included our orders and of course a big bag of tortilla chips with little dishes of their red and white sauce. I particularly enjoyed the white version, as readers know I am not interested in highly spiced or heat in food. Anyway, my point is that despite some misgivings, I really enjoyed the enchiladas. They were filled with chunks of chicken, readily identified as real cut up chicken breasts, covered with a cilantro based creamy sauce that was quite nice. Salad and rice was, well, salad and rice. I guess I don’t classify Monterey as a “chain”, and we did have a nice takeout. FWIW.

And then last night we watched Antiques Road Show, with the usual parade of people with things from yard sales, Aunt Tillie’s attic, and so on. We always enjoy that, although there is an occasional “That should be in a MUSEUM!” from archivist MFO. And after that we listened to the President and then the speaker of the House. How in the world did we get here? It’s astounding to me. Of course I have my opinions, as do you, and that’s great. But what gets me is that both “sides” claim that they know “what the American People want”. Nobody has contacted me! You know what I want? I want all this stuff to quit and just get it done. It’s like the recent NFL football silliness. Everybody knows it will be done, but we have to do all this posturing, dancing, and claims that only they know what is right. Personally, I don’t really mind nor see how closing tax loopholes for the hedge fund managers hurts, but the House feels distinctly that they must be continued. I’m so tired of this bickering. Surely there must be a little give on both sides (no there isn’t and stop calling me Shirley!). Anyway the dance continues..

And funny, as I’m typing this I’m also watching our county commissioners on Channel 95. No fireworks or acrimony this morning, but a nice contrast to the ritual going on up the road..

I got a nice comment from a reader in regards to my noting that half the “landscape trees” in front of the ugly Texas Roadhouse were dead. It was pointed out to me that it was “Just like Texas!”. Point well made!

And, I see that Buffalo Wings and Beer continues moving forward, as does the"new" McDonalds near G&H jewelers.

Go get a diamond, a quarter pounder, and you are


Monday, July 25, 2011


Words I never thought I would utter: "Good news, honey! It's only supposed to be 94 today!"

We bailed on whatever form the River Concert took on Friday, and the Feeder's weekend was pretty much spent cowering on the couch trying to fight the heat induced exhaustion and depression. (Does it show?). When you go outside and your glasses immediately fog up, something is very wrong. Besides the brain going dead, appetites tend to grow dull and a light salad or something like that is all that is desired. However, I did grill some apple wood smoked pork chops on Saturday night to celebrate the alleged cold front that was to produce the "only 94" temps of yesterday. But, in reality the thermometer cruised by that and our backyard was again in the upper nineties..

Last night produced some MNR and lots of thunder and lightning which was a nice change of pace. Maybe today it will "only" be in the low nineties..

In times like these, I always recall the novel Giants in the Earth, set in the Dakota Territories of the late 19th century where one of the characters goes nuts because of the incessant winds. Welcome to the summer of 2011.

Other than that, life is good. Especially if you can

DFD with light colored loose fitting clothing..

maybe the mood will improve with the day...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frying Friday..

After bombarding you with traffic struggles and extreme makeovers for pools, so as a service to the readers, we’ll stay very short today . This heat is stultifying..

To Do:

St. Mary’s College: tonight’s River Concert has been moved back a half hour “for weather considerations”, like an extra 30 minutes would make some difference, but whatever. They are also considering moving it into the Athletic Center. Air conditioning and hard bleachers. I guess look at the colleges web site

Calvert Marine Museum – acoustic folk music concert by Dramtree-O from Norfolk, VA. $5 at 7pm tonight.

Historic St. Mary’s City – the annual Tidewater Archeology Weekend starts tomorrow, 10 to 4. Tours and actual digging opportunities. As an aside, don’t look for your favorite chapel docent to be on station this weekend. He doesn’t want to add to the 500 graves on site.

LeonardtownDowntown Tunes tomorrow night “about six” on the square. Featured band will be Dance Hall Ghost, lead by local talent Gary Rue. Southern Rock, boogie woogie (is that word still used?) and so forth. Free, of course

At any or all of these things, DFW(eather), like buck naked..


MFO and I went up to Jefferson Patterson Park last night to hear a lecture by Tom Horsley, currently from the University of Michigan. Topic was “Revealing Buried Archeological Remains Using Geophysical Techniques”. He described magnetic, electromagnetic, and ground penetrating radar techniques to locate graves, buildings, palisades, roads, etc., that have become “buried” over the years. Interesting stuff. Techniques have been used at Historic St. Mary's City


Kind of beyond our normal range, but of interest to some is a concert by Eric Bibb, the “Blues Troubadour”, to be held Sunday at 7pm in St. John’s Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick. Having a blues concert in a Church is kind of an interesting paradox. Generally the subjects of most blues songs are not necessarily in line with the doctrine of the church. Tickets are a respectable $35, but he is sort of a national figure. What caught my interest is that he is the son of Leon Bibb, somebody I used to listen to in the folk music craze of the


Please make it stop it hurts just to think of


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Our Very Own Carmageddon...

No, not the 405, just our St. Mary's county roads. As local drivers who ply the roads in our county know, there are relatively few “cross county” routes that get you from the 235 corridor on the eastern side of the peninsula to Route 5 that generally goes along the opposite side. Getting from one to the other limits you to a few options. Route 4 (usually most convenient) in the middle, Great Mills to the south, and on the north “Hollywood – Leonardtown” road. That’s about your only choices.

This (Thursday) morning I had arranged to meet a friend for coffee in Leonardtown at nine o’clock and set out about 8:40. I chose Rte. 4 for my cross county leg. About half way across, I encountered signs of “road work ahead”, closely followed by another “one lane traffic ahead”, then “flagman ahead”. And yea verily we ground to a halt near St. Andrew’s Church where they are constructing an intersection to enable you to drive into the woods. Going in that direction at that time only cost about a six minute delay, so I was in the coffee shop by about 9:15.

After (a Latte and) great conversation solving various problems both global and local along with assessing anxieties, it was time for me to head back home. So I left Leonardtown around 11:10, and decided to go down Route Five in order to check the Oyster Festival sign at the Fairgrounds and verify what dates it had posted for the Festival(they are still last year’s). As reigning King Oyster it is my responsibility to get these things straight. Anyway, my plan was then to go down 5 to Great Mills, then across to 235, turn left and stop at my office for a while.

So, with a little blue Toyota fastened to my bumper I headed south. I could appreciate his frustration, as I was only exceeding the legal speed by 6 mph or so. Anyway, as I crested the hill by Little Flower School, I observed some heavy equipment at the bottom of the hill by the Brass Rail at Flat Iron/Indian Bridge road(perhaps a mere 500 yards from where I wished to turn left on Great Mills Road. As I got closer I saw one of those electric signs with a big blinking arrow pointing left! That was because they CLOSED the road in front of Friendly Tavern to work on the wires over the road. Not one lane, not wait, CLOSED. So I was urgently directed by the nice man in day glow jacket onto Indian Bridge which takes you back north, eventually intersecting Route Four. It takes you WAY back north. Okay, so me and my fellow travelers went past Cecil's Mill, through the country side for however miles, and Whoops! What’s that ahead? A string of 50?, 60?, seemed like 100 cars completely halted. My keen reasoning powers immediately figured it out: Indian Bridge intersects Route 4 WEST of the one lane operation. So most likely the (ticked off) drivers on eastbound 4 would rather die than let anybody in ahead of them (you can’t do that for God’s sake, you’d LOSE!). Hence the huge long backup. So several of likeminded folks and I did the 180 and went BACK down Indian Bridge and X miles, to arrive again at the Brass Rail to find Route 5 still closed. What the heck are these guys doing? No matter, turn right onto Northbound Route 5, retrace all Y miles, back to Leonardtown almost at the point of origination.

While I was enjoying the scenery I saw on the southbound leg, I decided to avoid Route 4 altogether with its one lane restriction, and drove up to Hollywood Leonardtown road (adding a few more minutes and miles). That eventually took me over to 235, and a right turn and more driving eventually got me back to Millstone and the digs. The time was now 12:27, just a little over an hour to complete what should be about a 20 minute trip.

How much is gas?

I was so aggravated it didn't occur to me how i would


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lightning and Lagoons....

What a day...

Here at the digs, the oppressive heat of yesterday was capped off with a storm that in official meteorological terminology is rated as a “Doozy”. Strong winds, stronger gusts, driving rain and lightning and thunder occurring almost simultaneously (translation…damn close!). It apparently struck a house not far from us, and the people who own the adjacent house called us from their vacation home asking about the one here. We went and checked it out. Sure enough the usual gaggle of "equipment"

We couldn't see the alleged victim of the lightinig strike, but fortunately our friend's house appeared not to have suffered damage, which was confirmed by a walk around this morning...


Of course as things go, yesterday was also the day that the “pool guys” finished working on our gray lagoon. After years of having the pool works dominate our view in all seasons...

We decided to have them moved off to the side. What the heck, it’s only money. So that engendered a lot of digging and dealing with piping.

And, since we’re only, oh say, 6 or 7 weeks behind a normal pool opening date (usually memorial day), and an equal amount from the normal pool closing date, we decided to buy water to fill it. Key word, "buy"’s only money

But finally it is tucked behind the “grassie bed” and out of view.. it's only money

Little Bits in no particular order.

Half of the “Landscape Trees” in front of Texas Roadhouse are dead.

There is in fact a new owner/renter of “The Willows”; plans not known at this time.

More activity at the old “Charlie’s Deli” on South 235. Am told there is a rooster in the window.

I was traversing south this morning on Rte. 235 toward the base. Since I wanted to turn in at gate one, I got in the left hand lane. Knowing I would be considered a driving hazard I set the cruise control at ~50 Mph. As I was passing “my” intersection at Millstone where the awful accident happened, cars routinely rode up on my bumper, darted into the middle lane and cut me off again getting in front with the loathsome stare as they passed. Easily had to be 55 or 60 mph. Speed limit – 45. “we don’t consider speed or alcohol a factor in this accident”. Yeah, right.

And lastly, before the usual admonishment, please expunge the phrase “shout out” from anything you say or write. Enough is enough with that one… I'm sick of it. "Let's give a big...." c'mon people. it's history


DFD (and slow down!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not a Chicken..

But a Weekend Wrap...

Friday night… River Concert, Then, Saturday, we took the opportunity to go up to Waldorf to obtain food for ourselves and also the birds which have been starved lately. I use seed from a bird store in Waldorf (what the wild bird store has morphed into) so it requires a trip north to replenish. Another benefit was to visit Nick’s of Clinton to get some beef protein. Despite the questionable rating of beef from Nick’s, we enjoy it and find it fairly tasty (and very affordable). It might be “no roll” which means it can’t be USDA graded for some reason. For those of you who have not been able to enjoy Nick’s it’s worth a trip to Waldorf (Nick’s of Clinton) or now Prince Frederick (Nick’s of Calvert). Generally the employees are friendly and helpful. At the meat counter, you have to take a number to get service. So, on this visit, I was standing in line behind a couple of gentlemen who eventually got their ticket, and I was next. Suddenly, a lady darted in ahead of me and grabbed the next ticket. “Excuse me” I said, to be greeted with a fixed stare communicating a “what’s the matter with you, idiot?” message. Thank you ma’am. But Saturday night’s dinner was a nicely (charcoal grilled) T-Bone Steak with local tomatoes and lime basted grilled local corn. On the way up we stopped at the Amish Market at Charlotte Hall library to get the home grown tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. That’s a trip in itself. Thank you cut in line lady..

Sunday was the day that the black lagoon got power washed after we decided to move the filter equipment from the view to the side. Picture to follow. Since the pool remained “closed” until the moving operation, it was pretty much a slime pit. So I decided to drain it and start over. Sunday morning was spent watching and monitoring the power washing of the interior… Hey, how about this spot? “thank you sir -- shut the F…k up”. By the end of the day, it was pristine and ready for water. Which happened today. Hey, it’s only money.

Last night (Sunday) we prepared a dinner for the family of our friend who was in the auto accident. We did a cold herbed poached salmon (a preparation I highly recommend) with some cumin roasted potatoes and a local vegetable salad with feta cheese. There is neither encouraging nor discouraging news. Her condition has not deteriorated, that is hopeful.

Back to the River Concert series, Friday's program included some Spanish music. Namely, Summer night in Madrid by a Russian composer, Mikhail Glinka. But then they played Nights in the Garden of Spain, by Manual DeFalla. In a little diversion here, I spent three months in the eighties in Spain, helping the Spanish Air Force learning about flutter testing. During the time there, we toured the country on the weekends, from the mountains of Segovia in the north to the plains in the south. In the course of those tours, I was able to experience various provinces in Spain and came to love the cuisine of the country, from the legendary lamb in Segovia, Paella in Barcelona, and the wonderful tapas around Madrid. Jamon, gambas, Chorizo, garlic, all served in little Cazuelas as you were ready. What a lovely concept. We also dined in Paradors, the government run pinnacle of indigenous cuisine. Beautiful meals, wonderful wines at reasonable prices. Local restaurants serve dinner from ten o’clock on. We saw the windmills but not Don Quixote. And, I experienced the art of the Prado, and other places.

So, back to the recent River Concert. When I heard the music of DeFalla, it transported me back to Spain. Haunting, tension filled pieces recalled all those memories. Aside from those, Miles Davis cut of Concerto de Aranjuez on Sketches of Spain is one of my all time favorites. You must listen.

And today, I got a response from “anonymous” that allowed how lately I have been “grouchy, lots of complaints about eats, music, traffic and all those things that aren't really important and occur almost everywhere”. Fair enough. I might argue that those things are somewhat important and even if they occur everywhere, that doesn’t make incivility acceptable. And, I’m not sure what is important if we can’t behave toward each other appropriately, or serve food correctly. But in that vein..

I will close with this incident for “anonymous” that illustrates that there are people out there who do care and perhaps an instance of what is really important. When we were camped out at the River Concert on Friday, a man walked up who, on the surface, appeared to be “challenged”. He had food for several people in his arms, but looked very lost. Gazing around in an attempt to see a familiar face and seeing none, he just sort of stared off into space. In a minute a man arose from his seat, and approached the gentleman asking if he could help. Relieved, his offer was accepted. Soon a cell phone appeared, a number was called, and a friend recognized the location of the man and food, and he was soon helped to the appropriate place. I thanked the man, and he said it was all he could do. There are people out there that care. Thank you.

And with the heat closing in, there will be issues with


Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday it be...

Well, here it is Friday again, and with the 2nd round of the British Open in the background, just a few this and that’s:

The “to do” list:

is fairly short this week, with the River Concert being the Friday staple. Today’s edition is “European Vacation” and not surprisingly features selections from “across the pond”. MFO and I are planning to attend. Use this weather when you can!!

And this gets included without comment. On Sunday, at Leonard Hall in Leonardtown, a couple of Great Mills grads will accompany the Horizon Wrestling Alliance professional wrestlers in putting on…. I don’t know what you call it… match? Performance? Extravaganza? No mention of fees.

Oh, sort of as a transition from “to do” to “to eat”, Trinity Church in St. Mary’s City will have its annual summer dinner tomorrow (Saturday) in their Parish Hall. All the usual “Church Lady” stuff, crab cakes, baked ham, fried chicken, green beans (it’s a law), slaw, etc. Always fun to get real food. Doubt the Sysco truck visited them. Cost is 23 bucks. Good cause.

To eat:

Sort of… Tuesday night we decided to celebrate the end of the scorching heat by going over to the Dry Dock for dinner. We arrived and noted that things didn’t seem “normal”, with several people at the bar and tables with nothing before them. Apparently the normal barkeep and manager had taken a leave for a while, and they were scrambling to recover. The young lady who took our drink order told us she was thrust behind the bar from the floor and said she had no experience. I thought that was very nice to be up front about that. I guided her through preparation of my DMOTRWAT and MFO’s Gimlet. We kind of had fun, and eventually we had a fairly nice dinner, and I’m sure they will work through the situation. One thing all restaurateurs constantly deal with is change. At least the kitchen is stable..

Last night we went to Café Des Artistes to observe Bastille Day. It was a festive atmosphere and Chef Loic was resplendent in a brilliant white chef coat and a red toque. They featured dishes any Francophile would be pleased with: Vichyssoise, Pâté de Campagne, Moules, Canard, Tarts, Crème Caramel, etc. We selected all of the above and MFO settled on a pork dish. Although the restaurant was pretty well filled, the food arrived at a good pace, and was quite good. I though the Pâté was fresh and moist with good texture and served as it should be with Cornichons and crusty baguettes, the vichyssoise was rich and creamy. The Duck Duo consisted of a smoked breast with a fruity sauce, and a fanned baked version. The Moules while rich and plump and flavorful were not helped by a rather thin broth. We had a very nice Muscadet the traditional accompaniment to Moules.

Prior to the dinner we stopped in at the Front Porch for a quick Dirty Grey Goose Martini and Gimlet. I really do like their bar, especially when we were the only occupants prior to the dinner hour.

Alert readers, might note that we dined out Tuesday and Thursday.. Why not Wednesday at the Dry Dock? Because, dear reader, it is “live music” night there. Yes, I am old, but I find that I much prefer to dine with friends without competition from a musical group, or at least the ones we’ve encountered around here. If I were in a dark bar, filled with ferns and oak, white tablecloths, and silently served drinks in a heavy glass by a well dressed server, a quiet jazz combo might be nice. I know others do not share this aversion because more and more places feature live music during the dinner hour. There was a talented group at the café last night, consisting of two guitars, a string bass, and a violin. The genre of the music escapes me, maybe Creole Jazz might describe it, sort of in the style of Django Reinhardt. Up tempo, rapid paced music. And, where we were seated it was, for us, too loud. As Tom Sietsema might characterize it, “conversation was difficult”. That sort of thing is distracting to me. Just let me enjoy the company, conversation, and food.

So anyway, that was our recent dining experiences. But of course we were


Ps the condition of our friend who was in the accident remains the same. Her husband is quoted in the paper today as saying “the intersection (where it occurred) “always sucked””. As you might remember that is the intersection which I always claim is inhabited by the demons. I would hope they would confine their pranks just to making me stop every time..

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

not a rant, just depressing

This evening, I had to drive over to Leonardtown to deliver some stuff for a golf tournament tomorrow. Unwittingly, I left at 4:00. Of course I had to use the evil intersection of Millstone and Rte. 235. I don’t think I will ever go through there again without the thought of the remains of the car of our friend, just a mass of twisted metal.

Apparently four o’clock is high time for northbound traffic leaving the base, and all three lanes were pretty much stop and go. So, I had plenty of time to observe the behavior of the other drivers. One SUV who was initially sitting beside me almost cut me off, no turn signal, just yanked in ahead of me. Then, when a small opening in the lane he just left, he darted back. At the next light, there I was, sitting right next to him again. Or those people who feel the “right turn only” lane is their personal lane to jump four cars or so before cutting back. A little further along, up near Lenny’s one of those drivers who thought the gap in front of me was a sign of weakness, immediately occupied it (without blinker), then decided his original lane was better and cut back there. Unfortunately some other driver idea had the same idea, and my guy had to nose over toward the shoulder. And, at the light just north of Outback Steakhouse there was a multi-car accident with much nose to tail contact. I also saw one of those on the way back.

What the heck is up with these people? Is it a sport? A contest? Something to do to alleviate the boredom of the evening commute? I suspect that most of these people when not encased in steel are probably okay folk, they don’t elbow in front of you in the check-oueven t line, or step in front of you the post office, and maybe sometimes they hold a door for someone. So what are they acting out when they get behind the wheel of their doolie (or whatever the word is) or little Honda with buzz pipes? I don't know.

All I know is that due to one driver’s inattention, a friend, mother, and wife is now in a hospital fighting for her life for just making a left hand turn. Please be careful and behave civilly.

Tomorrow we can worry about


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This is Only a Test...

If this were a real posting, it would be filled with insightful, informative, and brilliant writing about food, culture, and life in general.

I was recently cajoled by Microsoft to install their new Internet Explorer 9. I resisted for a long time, but finally after becoming sick and annoyed at seeing reminder after reminder, i said oh, the heck with it, maybe this will shut them up and downloaded it. Well, immediately after that, Blogger (the site that handles this mess) would not accept the normal command to post. You had to do a couple of more steps which i won't go into here. I am not a fan of change. This incompatibility caused no end of angst on my part, to the point where I was obsessing about it. Posting a note on their "help log" was totally ignored along with thousands of others.

So after a bit of consideration I googled "go back to IE 8" and got a step by step procedure to do this. Many of the sites had notes about "I HATE IE9! because.....", so I felt i was in good company. So finally this morning with (mostly psychological) support from my local SOMD Blog Support team I bit the bullet and did it. I hope it was successful. I suppose the reason I'm rambling on is because down deep I'm afraid to try it, but it will have to be done... In a minute...

On a sad note, a friend of ours was involved in a serious accident yesterday not unsurprisingly (to me) at the intersection I complain so much about with the inhabitants of the stop light. She had to be air lifted to DC, where hopefully she will make a full recovery. It will be a long one I think. Reports are that she was making a lawful left turn onto 235 south and a pickup ran the red light and totalled her car. Our thoughts are with her. And please drive carefully out there..

On a happier note, FOJTE jumped on my date math yesterday (alert readers will remember he teaches that subject) with the following comment.. you figure it out..

It is also a pair of successive prime numbers. The next time this will occur is Nov. 13th and then you have to wait until February 3rd of next year.

and with the usual reminder to

DFD i will hesitatingly touch the "publish Post button"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slip Sliding Away...

and before my brain succumbs to the numbness of the onrushing heat

I am slipping (in a lot of ways) some. In the formative years of the Bottom Feeder I used to be enamored of curious dates. Things like day*month = year like 9/9/81. Or you could mess around with the square root, things like that. And then there were the clock/date things like 01:02:03 on the fifth of april in 1967 would be 1/2/3/4/5/67. Or people would send me things that will not occur again until three centuries from now. Some were true and some were not.

Well, I kind of missed one last Saturday. It was 7/9/11, a progression of three odd numbers. The next one will be 9/11/13, then 11/13/15 and that will be it for this century.

And, today being 7/11, it is of course convenience store day. I think I heard that that particular store will be giving away free slurpees..

Weekend wrap..

After our lovely Plan B Picnic, the weekend included:

Going to a recital that was part of Piano Fest. It was performed by Beverly Babcock, who usually is seen lurking behind Brian Ganz and playing the “orchestration” (see I’m learning) part while he solos. It was such a treat to see her perform for herself and display her considerable talent. She played the lovely Prelude & Fugue XII in f minor, WTC Book II (whew!), by J.S. Bach, then a Haydn Sonata in E-flat (and a bunch of other descriptors). After that she played a beautiful piece written for her by a student at SMCM called May Afternoon. What a treat that was, and to cap it off, the composer Mary Coy (aged 22!!) was in the audience. For the final piece, Brian joined her on stage and they played a delightful series of four handed Brahms waltzes, 16 of them!

Then yesterday our friend in DC came down with one of his nephews, and another friend. The second one was the lifeguard at the pool in our DC’s friend's apartment building, and is one of those who come from the Balkans every year to do such jobs in hotels and so forth. Both young men were extremely engaging, and it was fun meeting them. They both (by coincidence) were very much over six feet. We took them on a short tour of St. Mary’s City (my third visit to the chapel in as many days!) and then we went to Courtney’s for lunch to show them the “real thing”. And in fact they did get the full show. We sat for a good seven? ten? minutes before Tom brought the menus. Then another lapse while we pondered the menu (with some interpretation for our friend from Slovakia), and finally ordered. Pretty much rock fish all around. It’s what you do at Courtney’s. There was a large family group next to us that were sitting when we arrived, kept sitting while we were sitting, and sat some more. They asked about their food a couple of times, and eventually two plates were served (the party was about eight). After another whiles, a steaming tray of hard crabs were brought out. So our friends got to see the whacking and cracking of crabs as well. The whole deal. The rockfish baskets, plates broiled and fried were the best as usual. MFO had the broiled version. Fresh fish is so good… Anyway they had to sort of rush out the door to make their evening appointments in DC. Consistent experience at Courtney's. You just learn to expect and live with it..

Before we began our communal journey, MFO and I supplied a little snack for their off the road recovery of a glass of Prosecco and I whipped up a little frittata..

We were also reminded of the benefits of the big city when they brought us a house gift of a wedge of Montgomery’s Cheddar from the Cow Girl Creamery. Wonderful stuff..

So after our travels and lunch, MFO and I eschewed the Brian Ganz recital of last night..

And of course with Courtney’s there is no standard for which to


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Plan B Picnic...

One of the myriad of silent auctions we attend resulted in the opportunity to enjoy a “Gourmet” picnic before one of the River Concerts at St. Mary’s College. Comparison of schedules with the friends we invited resulted in last Friday being the only time all four of us were free, which pretty much locked in that date. We coordinated with the gracious people who donated it and Plan A was to dine under the arbor over in Historic St. Mary’s City instead of trying to spread out a lovely meal on the grass amongst the commoners at the concert site.

Well as the day approached, the weather forecasts became more disconcerting, and the probability of storms (“some may be severe”) increased. By the time we had to depart for the picnic, radar revealed blobs of red and yellow and they were “headed this way”. So just before we left our purveyor of the meal called and offered a Plan B.

Well, it turned out that Plan B was ever so much better than A, not only because we needed shelter from the storm, it provided us a lovely view of St. Mary’s River.

When we arrived, the table was set and ready for us to sit down and enjoy some appetizers along with a bottle of bubbly our friends graciously supplied

We proceeded to have a lovely meal, starting off with a tomato, leek, and feta tart and also some nice prosciutto and little mozzarella and melon balls.

This was followed by grilled shrimp and sliced London Broil with a side of orecchiette dressed with pesto. We had a very nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Groth) which came with the meal. After enjoying that, we had the Caesar salad before finishing with some lemon squares and local blackberries.

What took just a couple of minutes to describe actually stretched out over a period of an hour and a half. And, during that time, Plan B was justified because waves of rain came across the river, and we had to move a couple of times to avoid getting more than just refreshingly damp. It actually was more fun with the storms since we were protected and had something to sip. I think the rain canceled the River Concert for the evening, but at this point we didn’t care.

Besides the meal we also observed some of the local population skirting the water while droplets of rain dimpled the surface.

And there were other colorful things to see

And finally the skies cleared as we were relaxing treating us to a nice sunset

So despite the inclement weather we had a very enjoyable evening with things that mean a lot: Friends, Food, and Beverages..

Oh, did I mention that Plan B turned out to be the upstairs back porch of the controversial, much maligned, and criticized boat house at St. Mary’s College? Think what you want, it is a lovely spot with which to enjoy the FF&B.

And we were


Friday, July 8, 2011

A Quick Friday read...

I don’t know which gets here faster… Monday’s or Friday’s…

So here we are with another. At the moment I’m sort of ranted out and calmed down. So maybe just a quick rundown of things that could occupy your time this weekend.

Tonight of course is another in the River Concert Series at St. Mary’s College, featuring the U.S. Army Chorus. One of the things on the program is a medley of Billy Joel songs. I just report this stuff folks.. and also today marks the start of a little known (to me at least) event at the college called “The Piano Fest”. It starts today and goes for “four days of music making, exploring, spirit-restoring and community for pianists, piano teachers, and piano students of a broad range of abilities, ages, and interests.” It will be another chance to hear top notch pianists like Brian Ganz, Beverly Babcock, and Eliza Garth. You never know what goes on right under your nose..

More concert opportunities include the Brass Ensemble from the River Concert Folk playing in the square in Leonardtown tomorrow night (Saturday). Continuing through the week will be the Twilight Performance Series through the College of Southern Maryland (various nights at various campuses), and a new event this year called “Movie and a Concert” series on Wednesday nights in Cole Cinema..

This weekend is also the Sharkfest at Calvert Marine Museum, an annual event focusing on “all things shark”. There is a fee.

Sunday there will be a lecture at Sotterley Plantation by Joseph McGill who travels to historic sights kind of focused on slavery. He will be spending Saturday night in their restored Slave Cabin and will speak at one on Sunday. No fee.

You can get more info on all of the above from the local paper today, or go to their sites.

Speaking of the local paper, there is an article today about Markets for Locally (SOMD) raised meats. And speaking of local I think the annual “Buy Local Challenge” is beginning. I need to get a little more info on that, and there will be specific examples..

Breaking News:

There is (yet) another business park being proposed, near the Cheney concrete facility sort of across from Wildewood. Aside from more office spaces when there are empty ones around, guess what? The plan shows some restaurants, and one of them is…. Wait for it….. a Golden Corral! Another bastion of all the cheap fool you can eat... Seems like we had one of those once didn’t we? or maybe it was a Western Steer....

Enjoy your weekend, and beside dressing for the (potential) weather you must continue to


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I have followers...

mid weight wednesday... for the 475th post..

I wasn’t going to continue any form of a rant today, but I can’t help it.

These people just seem to find me. So I’m driving on a two lane road, with much opposing traffic, not to mention that double yellow line, all of which point to the fact that passing (besides being stupid and dangerous) is virtually impossible. I usually travel at whatever speed the car ahead of me is going (normally speed limit as a minimum), and as my reflexes are dulling somewhat with age, I leave maybe 4 to 5 car lengths in front of me. So there I was headed for Leonardtown this morning, in just that situation, and things were perking along just fine, even to the point where I could use the cruise control.

So I look in the mirror and see the hood (not the grill, the hood) of a car behind me. I have grown somewhat accustomed to this behavior so common in the county, and so any thought of touching the brake was ignored (well, maybe resisted is a better word). I just sat there, being mature. And sure enough I got the whole (NASCAR?) show. “Drafting” position, then drop back four or five lengths, charge up to “draft” position again, or move half the car over the white line marking the side of the road for a while. Combinations of this occurred over and over, all six miles to Leonardtown. It would be nice to be able to ask the person what they would like me to do… Perform the same idiot action to the car in front of me? Pull off the road so they could get that one car advantage? I just don’t get it. Pretty much they are going to arrive five or ten seconds behind me regardless, so why the foolishness?

Okay, we’ll move on to “this and that”

We had a nice group at the digs on Monday night for the fireworks display right out in front of us. The previous Friday I had sat through a live broadcast on how to photograph fireworks, but just didn’t have the energy to do it. Fortunately one of our friends is a great photographer and he took this and allowed me to “borrow” it.

And another friend of ours recently completed a trip to France to join up with their daughter who was completing a semester abroad program as part of her college work. The poor girl was assigned to Bordeaux for her session.. too bad how they treat these people. Anyway, they did a bit of touring and he sent me this picture of dessert in a creparie in Vanne, northeast of Dijon:

The little hemispheres are caramelized apples. Vanilla ice cream in the center. The whole was drizzled with salted butter caramel sauce. Just another little place in France..

More food:

I received another issue of Sauce, that nice little magazine from St. Louis which I greatly enjoy and encourage all my STL friends to obtain. Anyway, this issue contained the “reader’s choice” insert which contains the results of their annual poll. There seem to be a plethora of categories, and mercifully the word “best” is always replace by “favorite”. I don’t mind that. Just a few notes… The favorite overall restaurant is Sidney Street Café; Niche was the “Favorite Place to Impress Visiting Foodies”, and also Favorite Contemporary American Restaurant. Favorite Italian (very important in St. Louis) was our old friend Trattoria Marcella (Cunetto’s was second). But what really caught my eye (besides the fact that Imo’s never appeared in ANY pizza category) were the results from the Favorite Fine Dining category. Now before the drum roll, anybody familiar with the St. Louis dining scene would expect (as I did) the starred Tony’s to be at the top of the list. Not so!! It was third behind Niche and Sidney Street Café.

Which surprised me. But then I got to thinking that probably the readers of Sauce are predominately the thirty somethings with disposable income and probably loosely described as Foodies. I think with the explosion of the foodie craze, trendy restaurants with “innovative cooking”, and chefs who have sold out to Iron Chef stupidity, people tend to get wrapped up in more contemporary restaurants. They forget the grace of a well served meal with a team of waiters in Tuxes, and well prepared food without the foam and the sous vide and fluff. So I guess I’m not surprised at those results, but I suspect that it more representative of the readership than anything else. Not that I quarrel with any of their choices, they are all fine establishments, but I would have to lobby that Tony’s is the flagship of fine dining in St. Louis..

another instance why there is no "best"..


Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks of the mind...

One more trip bit off my mind...

Now that we’ve sort of documented the physical side of the trip, there was another facet that drove me nuts. Since we were in Missouri, most of the TV stations in motels emanated from St. Louis. And, unless I’m watching sports we tend to watch NBC stations mostly for news. Good old channel 5 in St. Louis…

Anyway, one of their biggest stories which dominated coverage (never mind the economy, Afghanistan, wildfires, storms) was the fact that the auditions for American Idol were being held downtown. Many shots of reporters interviewing starry eyed juveniles hoping that they were the one out of the ~5000 (!) folks that showed up that would get the big break. Oh, did I mention that (I think) American Idol airs on NBC?

But that got me to thinking…Lately the airwaves seem to be dominated by ads for these kinds of shows. Another was the “finals” of “The Voice”, and something called “America’s got Talent” whose clips only seem to prove that America indeed does not have talent, but does have a generous amount of idiots diving into wet hankies and so forth.

But it occurred to me that all the commercials are not about the contestants, but more about the judges. You name the show, there’s shot after shot of some insanely grinning judge, laughing out of control, leaping and clapping. I have no idea what enables them to judge anything. Howie Mandel? A washed up standup comedian and former game show host is now an expert on stupid human tricks. Christina Aguilera? She can’t even sing the National Anthem let alone distinguish “talent”. I guess you don’t need it to know it?

But of course once again I am in the minority as these shows continue to dominate ratings, and water cooler conversation rages on and on about who should win and why. What am I missing? I freely, gladly, and proudly admit that I have NEVER watched any of these shows (including the “reality” genre of Survivor or Whatever Island). But I am glad to see that there is one show that is named correctly: The Biggest Losers.

Food Bite:

Just to keep my purpose fulfilled, I noticed throughout our journey that every single Texas Roadhouse we saw (which were many) is no uglier than the one growing near us. Is it legal to fly a Texas flag in another state?

Quick Local Buzz:

Another new h/motel in Lex Park arising near the Belvedere, er, I mean Day’s Inn.

I cannot figure what’s going on at the Willows except they have new management.

There is new activity at the old Charlie’s Deli. Another try?

The “new” McDonald’s near Panera is slowly emerging from the ground. Goody.
Enjoy the holiday and be sure to


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bright Lights, Big City

Pardon the little lapse here without the usual “to do” Friday edition. Well, there is a lot “to do”. Various fireworks programs, concerts (Sotterley, Hollywood VFD, La Plata, Chesapeake Beach, the Solomons, on and on…) figure it out for yourself..

So last time we checked, we were heading north from Jackson to St. Louis. We night before departure, while we were dining at Ray’s, St. Louis was getting dunked with multiple inches of rain with road closures, power outages, and flooding. But, the next morning by the time we finished breakfast at Jone’s Farm and were on the road, most things had returned to normal. We had three enjoyable food experiences in St. Louis, including a couple with FOJTE and MFOJTE.

We arrived in the St. Louis area around one or so, and in the course of navigating I270 toward St. Charles, some mysterious force made the MOMSTER turn into West County Mall and next thing we knew, we were in Nordstrom’s. The poor company is struggling so much we felt compelled to leave large sums in various clothing departments.

But eventually we checked into the Fairfield Inn in St. Charles and had a little rest. Then the FOJTE’s picked us up and we drove to a little neighborhood place in Ferguson (kind of just south of the Airport) called Cork Wine Bar. Ferguson is one of those towns that sort of slid and now is coming back up the other side. Cork is a pleasant little informal neighborhood bar I suspect was resurrected from a former life, with booth/benches, tables and a rather nice long bar that looked like it had been there for a while. It reminded me a bit of what we called a “coffee house” in my day. There is also outside seating when weather permits. Even though it was Sunday night, there were pretty many people there, families, young folks, and mixed parties such as ours (youngsters and the elders). They not only have a stunning selection of wines from all over the world, but a pretty respectable list of beers and specialty cocktails. They do “flights” of wine as well. On the food side they have cold and hot plates, sandwiches, and pizzas. Being sort of a warm day we ordered a bottle of ’09 Russian River Valley Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, a pretty reliable bottle and vineyard. The wine produced a nice time to “catch up” with “the kids” and we learned about their recent trip to San Diego, and sigh, The Hotel Del which still stands as the Grand Dame of Coronado Island, albeit the seeming endless progression of “changes” continues.

Eventually we got around to the food and ordered up “snacks” of Parmesan Popcorn and some “Green Potatoes” which were described by our server as “ugly but good”. For bigger plates MFO had a brisket plate, I waffled a long time and finally settled on some Sliders, MFOJTE took a Greek Plate and FOJTE tried a Crispy Salmon dish. Of course by this time the bottle of Chard had become empty, so another replaced it. After one of those “just a little too long” period the snacks appeared, and indeed the green potatoes were very nice, but how can you go wrong with spinach and blue cheese! The salty popcorn was a nice pair. The mains arrived, well at least three of them, as somehow MFO’s brisket had been overlooked but was replaced fairly quickly. Without going into even more verbiage I would have to say the food was okay. Not bad, not wonderful but maybe what one might expect. Go for wines and take what the food gives you. And, oh by the way be sure to go with friends or family. That’s what’s good!!

Our second “big city” meal was taken with our “financial planner” guy a meeting about the state of our economy (okay) but really only an excuse to go to lunch. I had seen a very positive review of Oceano Bistro in Clayton (our old home town) in Sauce Magazine and suggested that as a good place to try. Turns out it has been there for a long time occupying the old “Ramon’s” spot across from Cardwell’s in downtown Clayton. It features seafood. A good thing we had reserved as we arrived at half past noon and there were very few tables, which were predominately occupied by the normal Clayton well turned out crowd at lunch. We arrived before our friend, and were offered our choice of the last three open tables. We took one in the corner near the entrance to the enclosed seating on the “sidewalk”. Since this is getting long, I’ll just say that this is one of the places you enjoy because they do everything right. Wine by the glass? Sure, bottle is brought to the table and you get a pour before your glass is filled. Service? Right on. Since our table was on the way to the porch, I noted that every time our server passed on his way out, his eyes darted to our table. Upon return, the dish was cleared, the water glass filled without any banter. Another roll sir? Sure. A fresh dish of olive oil (and roasted pepper coulis?) was also brought not leaving you to sozzle the remains of the first one. The cream of broccoli soup was consumed by the feeder where broccoli doesn’t rate high in other forms. Our friend had the “Maryland Lump Crab Cake” starter with the soup as the complete lunch, MFO had a “Smoked Salmon BLT”, and to compliment my soup I had the “Lemon Crab Risotto”. Being an opinionated Marylander I would have to say that although good, the crab cakes weren’t outstanding, and the lumps were not in my stolen fork full. A great meal, excellently served. A little nuance that I had not seen before was that as we were about half way through the meal, the server approached and said “at lunch place we usually leave the check early so people don’t have to wait”. I can live with that. No other contact regarding the check until we were ready.. Good place. Go.

The third meal was taken at the “new” Balabans, which opened a “branch” in Chesterfield in a mall of which there are many out there. I don’t recall the original (still existing in the Central West end andnow called Herbie’s or something like that), but it is a combination of wine cellar and (French) Bistro. You walk in through the shelves of wind and select one of the tables or sit at the bar. We chose to sit there. The menus include Tapas, soups and salads, small plates, larger entrees, flatbreads, and desserts. They have wines by the glass (big selection) or you can wander the aisle and select your bottle and consume it (with a corkage charge). On the night we were there, a Monday, corkage charges are waived. Our first bottle was an Argyle reserve Pinot and was quite lovely. We chose appetizers of a cheese plate and another of Jamon Serrano & Manchego. Incidentally, the wine had a screw enclosure (of which I am a great fan, by the way), and my joke of there could be no corkage because there was no cork was received coolly by the barkeep. I thought it was pretty cute. Anyway, the starters were delivered and apportioned among us. There could have been a bit more cheese on the plate, and the ham was a bit tough. However we did manage to consume it somehow. More good conversation until the mains arrived consisting of Lobster Ravioli (FOJTE); Margherita Flatbead (MFOJTE); Roasted Chicken Breast (MFO); and Paella for moi. These dishes were all very enjoyable. The paella was full of chicken, jamon, shrimp, clams and the rice was not blown out. Nice dish. This course was accompanied by a Siduri Pinot which had more body and fruit than the Argyle and was quite nice. I made no more comments about corkage having learned my lesson. (I still think it’s cute). Besides wines by the shelf, they do tastings, and the gentlemen next to us did same with Port. We all thought they didn’t need it, and hoped that they got home safely. We thought the quality of the main courses out classed the two starters we tried, and are the reason I would recommend the place. I’m sure others on the small side are good, so experiment around. And if you go on a Monday you can use my line about corkage, no royalty charged.

The next day, I was dropped at the aerodrome in St. Louis, still sporting plywood windows from the tornado of last month, and after an hour delay I was delivered to BWI, and a short drive later, back in the digs. MFO and her MOMSTER continued north to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to see mom and sister. This week is her mother’s 96th birthday. God love her.

As I’m sure all parents know, it is so enjoyable seeing your offspring as adults, and being pleased on how they are conducting their lives. And, as I’m sure all parents know we wish it could be more often..

And so another journey is in the memory banks along with the five meals, but the best part is of course just being with family. Thanks FOJTY&E

And of course being

DFD as appropriate..

Thanks for listening, and now we can look forward. Have a great 4th.