Friday, September 30, 2011

September Swan Song...

Can it be true?  Tomorrow is October???  Anyway, as the Old Bay begins to fade (see post below) from the fingers, we can turn to the usual Friday task of “to do” and other tidbits of this and that..

(Too Much) To Do:

The high season of festivals and “stuff” is upon us. Headlines this weekend include the Wine Festival at Sotterley featuring Maryland wines, local food and crafts. Although Sotterley Plantation took a big hit from Irene, the fields where the fest will be was pretty much unscathed so it should be a great weekend. With all the damage to the property, supporting this event will provide much needed funds, and you get to drink wine and eat good stuff too!

The other big event is the annual Blessing of the Fleet focused around St. Clements Island (where the colonists first made landfall), and Colton’s Point. Two days of music, tours of the Island, and a lot of family activities. I see there is a stuffed ham demo tomorrow at 1:30.

Smatterings of other stuff to do would include an Open house at Point Lookout, Summerseat is also having an open house. The Lore Oyster house on the Solomons will be holding classes on Oyster shucking, and feature “the giant fabric oyster “Rock. E. Feller”.

The weather is supposed to be autumn like, clear skies, no storms with names heading our way, so I don’t know what to say. Pick something and get out and enjoy our Southern Maryland, where there is nothing to do..


Every time I go to a Brian Ganz piano event, I swear I won’t mention it in the blog. Goodness knows, I have recounted enough of them in an attempt to get you interested. Well, I went, and I fail. Last night I attended the first evening edition of one of his Piano Talks. Brian has a way of explaining the music, and teaches you to hear things you (especially me) might not catch. He spoke about his first piece, Chopin’s Mazurka in B flat minor, Op. 24, No. 4 (how these things get named might be a subject of a future talk!) for a good 20 minutes. He talked about cadences, which in plain engineering talk is how pieces end. A familiar one is the “Amen” at the end of a hymn. He showed us the 4 -1, the 5 – 1, the 6 - 1, the 2 - 1, and his favorite: the 3 – 1. He also talked about modes (scales), intervals, and played examples of each. The then explained how Chopin used all of them in the piece, and said there would be a surprise at the end. He then played the piece which was beautiful (I thought a Mazurka would be crashy, after all it’s a dance), and at the end, sure enough, it ended on a single note (which in my rudimentary knowledge I would call a “seventh”). It just hung there… and then stopped. Chopin did not give “resolution”.  Brain said a sign of his genius.

He then went on to play a couple of Franz Liszt pieces (this year is his 200th birthday – Franz, not Brian). The second was an Etude after Paganini (no. 3, “la Campanella”). It was an astonishing piece, seemingly having more notes going on than ten fingers could produce. We were all exhausted when he finished.

Anyway, there I go again, but having this kind of talent available to us is a gift, and we should take every chance to experience it. Next opportunity is a week from today (the 7th) at noon. Chopin appears to be the subject.

Just a nice thing:

Yesterday, I was home and decided to take my lunch on the patio, with the gray lagoon now slumbering for the winter. So I prepared my (lately) standard (half) sandwich. Starting with single slice ofPepperidge Farm Original White bread cut in half, I put some Dijon (Gray Poupon) on one half, and butter on the other. Then I prepared three slices of (Boar’s Head) Pastrami (more lean than others for some reason), some (Boar’s Head) Imported Swiss, and assembled the sandwich: slice of pastrami, slice of cheese; pastrami, cheese; pastrami, cheese. And put the other half slice bread on top. Rounded out the plate with some Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips, and voila! Lunch. I selected a Heavy Seas Classic Lager, and headed out on the pool deck/patio. There was a lovely breeze that held down the insects, and brought out the sailors. It was a lovely clear day with gorgeous clouds

And the sailboats were enjoying the breeze as well

So I just sat and enjoyed an hour (and a second beer) or so of watching the world go by. These are the good times to be on the water. Even the view of the bridge was nice.

Funny, as I approach my 70th birthday, having these quiet moments for reflection and just enjoying simple things somehow are more meaningful. Do it.

Didn’t matter how I was


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Crabby Tale..

Alert readers will remember that earlier this summer a friend and I rekindled an experience (verging now on tradition) of picking crabs at a local crab shack (The Sea Breeze). During the summer visit, our server (Rose) said to return in September and October when they would be really “heavy”. We decided to do that.. So, with MFO in Wisconsin (not a fan of picking anyway) we decided we would follow Roses advice and drove over on Monday night.

There are certain requisites to be an authentic (Southern Maryland) traditional “crab shack”. First you must be “on” the water, with either a clapboard (the original Evans for instance) or plain cinder block building (Courtney’s) with plenty of neon beer signs and banners, preferably NOT for froo froo beers. Sea Breeze certainly qualifies there (with plus points for the scraggly palm trees).

The interior must have plain tables covered with brown paper

And the little caddy for napkins and malt vinegar, napkins and stuff.

There HAS to be the white placemat with local advertising on it when seated by the young lady (in a "house" tee shirt).  You bet:

The first order of business is to provide liquid refreshment and tools for the food. Beer MUST come in a pitcher (or long neck) and HAS to be a brand from the neon signs in the window. So a (plastic) pitcher of Miller Light was delivered along with frozen mugs, a knife, and a "whacker" (technical culinary term)

Our order consisted of a basket of Hush Puppies (there’s a story here, for later consumption) and a dozen crabs. The puppies arrived, in a configuration of tubes (I need to research this) and were a nice prelude to the main course of Callinectes Sapidus, more popularly known as hard crabs.

The crabs were some of the largest I have had the pleasure of being served


Of course the meat does not come to you, you have to go to it. It is not easy. Over the years I have finally evolved a technique that occasionally produces that elusive “crab lollypop” of a perfectly positioned lump of delicious crab meat. It’s the holy grail of crab picking.

And through the process a large amount of detritus is created, it’s not for the faint of heart.

The process is more rewarding when the crabs are big because the little pockets and crannies which conceal the meat are larger. These were some of the best crabs in my memory. The meat was sweet and very “crabby” tasting. We did our duty.

Extra Factoid.

A few years ago, an alert birder discovered that a Kelp Gull had adopted Sea Breeze as its winter home. Its normal range is far southern South America, so this one got some wires crossed. Once the bird received blessing as indeed being a Kelp Gull, people from all over (like national) came to get the bird on their “life list”. It developed an affinity for shrimp picked from the bins at Sea Breeze, and earned the nickname Shrimpy. It has not returned for the last few years, so most likely succumbed or unscrambled its navigational system. The local ornithology folks honored Shrimpy (and the Sea Breeze) with a plaque that is on display in the restaurant.

What a great experience. Nice firendly atmosphere, nice people, and great LOCAL food served appropriately in a “just right” setting. Run from the chains and find these places..

And for picking crabs, we don’t care how you are


Besides, you can’t pick crabs without wearing various bits of them, and your fingernails will smell like Old bay for days..

Monday, September 26, 2011

Boats and Titleists...

There is some sort of time compression going on. Just a few hours ago it was Friday and now I am informed that it is Monday…

On that Friday a few hours ago, MFO was successfully deposited at BWI and eventually made it to Onalaska, WI, where she currently remains visiting her mother (MFOM?) and sister (MFOS?). Back here in my bachelordom, the weekend was, well, the weekend. Rain, clouds and lack of enthusiasm resulted in the Feeder not attending the County Fair. It was what the locals call “fair weather”. And really, this will be about the third (?) in a row that I/we have not visited. Are we getting to be “locals”?

So, the feeder took advantage of our location to watch the practices and actual races of the Solomons Off Shore Grand Prix races. Big loud, really fast things are always fascinating and these are no exception. Geico is apparently very big in this arena as there were several entries in different classes. The actual races are kind of hard to watch because several classes are racing at once and it’s hard to know who’s racing who..

The other thing that occupied my time was watching various golf events on TV (oh no, here he goes again!) This weekend had both the Solheim Cup (kind of the women’s Ryder cup) and the men playing for that elusive and stupid FedEx cup.. okay, one last


The USA women were playing the European women in Ireland. I found out that the Euros have not won since 2003, and were not favored to win again this year. In the end, they did win the cup, and I was kind of happy for them. Probably good for the game. And for stodgy, between the lines old me, I really didn’t care much for our team. It seemed to me they thought they were entitled to win, showed up for each match dressed in some sort of gaudy costume that was a variation on the flag. And besides that, they had little flags painted on their faces. On every hole the loyal American fans chanted U-S-A!, U-S-A!, U-S-A!, after every shot, good or bad. On the final day, it was obvious that it was a lot closer than the Americans had figured, and it got down to the final singles matches. One of them was a high profile match between Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen. Now, alert readers will remember that Michelle was dubbed by that famous media to be the female Tiger Woods when she came on the scene at age 16 or whatever, and I have criticized her in the past for trying to qualify for men’s events (failing miserably). Well, on the final holes she sunk a rather long putt, and danced across the green, arms flailing, fist pumping, quite the antics. Well, Suzann calmly watched and proceeded to birdie the final three holes to take the match, and ultimately win the cup. I just don’t like heroics and showing off regardless of the sport. Those little decals looked pretty good when they were winning, not so much at the end..

And then I moved to the FedEx cup coverage of the final round of the Tour Championship. In the end, it was exciting, but the stupid media (those guys again) spent untold minutes trying to figure out who would win the cup with that stupid point system. It changed with almost every shot. If Haas makes this putt, he’ll go to first unless Baddeley holes out from the rough, or Mahan falls into the hazard. Just awful. With a hundred different scenarios as play progressed, it would have been possible for the winner of the tournament to NOT also get the FedEx cup. Mercifully it worked out that Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan went into a playoff for the whole enchilada. Both were nice guys, but Bill Haas won, including a wonderful shot from the water hazard. It’s nice to see nice guys. Phil of course was all over the course spraying tee shots and the long putter was erratic. Anyway, thank God that’s over for another year..

Lastly, our “new” McDonalds is open. Yippee. People still continue to drive into the old one..

And who cares if they are


Friday, September 23, 2011

Fast Friday..

Been a bit since we've chatted, but kind of a dull week.   But busy weekend begins with a busy Friday. MFO is once again heading for Wisconsin, but this time on great silver bird, so the Feeder will provide escort service this morning to get her to the aerodrome..

So a bit abbreviated report this morning, and nothing much about food today. The “to do” list is large this weekend probably headlined by the annual St. Mary's County Fair. There are those that believe that it “always rains on fair weekend”, and it appears that they will be justified this year. Rain and some boomers are expected to hang around all weekend.

Also this weekend is the Offshore Grand Prix Boat Races, to be held right out our back door between the digs and the Solomons. It’s an event that features those humongous boats with closed cockpits and fins that travel faster than you think they could over water. Like anything else that is big, loud, and really fast they are fascinating to watch. Kind of like airplanes on the water. The official races are Sunday afternoon, but there are practice sessions Saturday. We did notice somebody roaring around last evening.. So, that’s another thing to add to the list maybe. Miss Geico is pretty impressive (the boat, don’t know if there’s a person)

I spent an “interesting” day yesterday down at Historic St. Mary’s City. They annually have a “Home School Day” with special rates and programs for the homeschooling community. MFO was to help with check in, and I of course manned the Chapel.

I am always glad to help the City, but I think someplace along the way I confessed that I was probably second only to W. C. Fields in my love of children… they are not my favorite visitors to the chapel.

So, after setting up camp around ten I settled in to face the homeschoolers. Sure enough a pack of them (they seemed to be in packs yesterday for some reason) was charging up the path from the Visitor center with the littlest one in front of the group of about 8 or 9. Getting ready, I watched as he approached the path to the chapel and…….. passed the entrance and just kept going as did the followers. Here’s this beautiful Chapel that sticks out like a… (pick something) and they didn’t even give it a look. I can’t say I was terribly disappointed, but it is rare that people pass the Chapel without at least sticking their head in. Oddly enough this phenomenon occurred for the rest of the day with more than half of the roving bands of children and exasperated parents. It could be that they were going to the re-enactor’s civil war exhibit just up the path from the Chapel. Nothing like guns to attract kids.

There were a few groups that did come to the chapel, with varying amounts of interest. Mostly they liked the building and didn’t care too much about the history. After trying several tactics to engage the kids, I finally found that the Piscina (the hole in the wall where the water from cleaning vessels used in the service is dumped) the little drawing showing all the graves in the chapel field was popular, as was the photo of Anne Wolseley’s leg bone. And, as usual the amazing acoustics of the chapel were very popular for screaming contests..

I did, however learn something that may alter my patter from now on. I usually talk about that slide that shows the (red) graves and the chapel foundation by saying something about the use of “ground penetrating radar”, which, while accurate is kind of over the head of most people, and especially kids. Today I said the “ground penetrating radar” to a group of them and was met with blank stares. Where upon the lady herding them spoke up and said “It’s like when the doctor ran that thing over my belly and you saw your brother!”. Ah, the light bulbs went on….Brilliant!! So maybe my “it was done with ground penetrating radar” could be replaced by “Sort of a sonogram on the ground”.

As the afternoon wore on, the roving bands seemed to diminish and I struck camp and came home.

An early look at today’s Enterprise reveals a nice article on the North End Gallery in Leonardtown which recently celebrated their 25th year of existence. Time does move on.

And the featured restaurant is a “new” Sushi place (Kobe Bar and Grill) up in Waldorf for all you fans of that particular cuisine, for which you can count me out.. I will eat the “raw fish” variety (which has a name) but the rice stuff wrapped in seaweed is not attractive to me.. Probably need a personal guide sometime..  There was no explanation why a sushi place (primarily seafood) is named for beef.

So, after finally working in something about food, it’s almost time to saddle up for the BWI run.

but i will also throw in the usual reminder to


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kings and etc.....

A weekend with tons of football, another thrilling golf tournament leading up to the FedEx cup, necessitated a day of recovery yesterday. So to catch up...

Sunday afternoon the Bottom Feeder transformed himself into King Oyster, and made a regal appearance at the Taste of St. Mary’s over in Leonardtown. Once you get over the initial “I look like a fool” feeling, it’s kind of fun. I always enjoy talking to people and this provides a great chance for that. Kids love me/King Oyster. At one point a couple of charming little girls sort of worked up their courage and asked if they could have my autograph. “I don’t have any paper”. Oh, no, we want you to sign our arms.. and King Oyster obliged. In the course of conversation (with adults) of course I always bring up the Oyster Festival – the raison d’être for King Oyster. I am continually amazed that I get responses like “I’ve lived here (20) years, and never have been to it!”; or worse “I’ve lived here (20) years, what’s that?”.

After working the crowd for a while, I transformed back into the Bottom Feeder, and made the rounds of the food tents with a fistful of the little red tickets. The booths were mostly occupied by the chef or owner of the particular establishment and it’s always fun to see them. I left the trusty Canon in the car so don’t have any images, but we did enjoy the food. Somehow a lot of the dishes leaned to spicy, as there was the Bison Chili from Café Des Artistes, a Jerk Chicken from Chef’s Bistro, Island Bar and Grill had blackened rockfish, etc. I certainly didn’t sample all of the things that were there, and I purposely avoided the Stoney’s truck. Stay over in Calvert, please (although yes they were entitled). There was only one place that offered Oysters, I believe it was Clarke’s Landing. King Oyster gave them special commendation. As the Geezer’s were getting ready to play, the rains arrived and ushered King Oyster and the Bottom Feeder back to the confines of the digs. And the wide screen.

These kinds of community events are always fun, and worth getting out of the house for. Upcoming events of note would be the County Fair this weekend, the Sotterley Wine fest the following weekend, and the famous Oyster Festival on the 15th.. wish there was something to do..

A letter

There was a letter in the mail box yesterday addressed to me, with a return address of the Beaux Frères Winery in Newburg, Oregon. Hmmm, what’s this? Turned out to be another example of the creativity of those clever marketing folk. The letter began with: “Dear wine (and freedom) loving Marylanders”. It then went on to congratulate me on the fact the Maryland legislature passed a law allowing direct ship from an out of state winery to my home. And just by coincidence “your cause for celebration finds us in the midst of our 2009 vintage release”, and how they would be glad to ship me some wine at reduced shipping (if you buy 6 or more bottles). They appear to be an exclusive Pinot Noir house and they were offering three labels of ’09. The price list was included for my benefit. Pinot’s always are pretty pricey, and their “cheapest” bottle of the Willamette Valley was $50 and the other two were $80 and 90. But, if you were willing to buy 6 bottles you could get the Willamette for $300. Oh, wait… how about the 1.5L (two bottles) for $100.. Hmmm… They also included a little card with tasting notes from the Wine Spectator along with a list of their ratings from 1991 through the present release. Scores ranged from 90 to 95. Of course Wine Spectator is famous for rating 90% of wines in the world at ~88 or above. Helps with that marketing you know… and finally the letter was signed by (sic): Michael Etzel (wine grower and freedom advocate). What a selfless guy..

There are many facets and opinions on the “new” law, with some valid points on either side. I do, however appreciate the opportunity to talk to a knowledgeable “wine guy” at a store, maybe get a taste, and learn about a particular wine or maybe a suggestion or two.

Another Anniversary

Not a hurricane, but the one year anniversary of the start of last year's trip to Ireland. What wonderful memories are associated with that trip. We’re probably going to join pretty much the same group for a trip to Scotland next year..

And we will have to pack to be able to


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cheer, Cheer, for.....

I knew it was coming, too many stars were aligned for it not to happen.

Stars in East Lansing:

Michigan State wins their first two games of the season, outscoring their opponents 72 to 6, with one of them being a shutout.

Their opponents in these games were the football powers of Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic.

Last year, they beat Notre Dame with that now famous fake field goal to win in overtime. Stinging defeats like that linger in the memories a long time, and smolder.

Despite the best efforts of the coaching staff, visions of BCS championships were no doubt dancing in the heads of the Spartans.

Stars in South Bend;
Notre Dame has their return to glory sidelined by losing their first two games in a fairly humiliating way. Their season opener at home is fumbled away in front of the stunned Irish fans.

Their second game is lost in the final play of the game in the “big house” at the University of Michigan and their (at times) dazzling quarterback.

They were returning to South Bend to face the hated Spartans, with any chance of season success hanging in the balance.

They align:

I tuned in to NBC, er, excuse me, “The Notre Dame Football Network” at 3:30. The first 15 minutes or so was the typical media idolatry of the Legendary Football Heritage of Notre Dame. Finally we get to the game, and of course Notre Dame marches down the field and scores much to the delight of the home crowd. The announcers were giddy.

Okay, my good Domer friend, you can probably stop reading now, and allow me my yearly rant regarding your favorite team, and yes, I owe you lunch. It’s like watching a train wreck. You try to look away but you can’t. I knew the writing was on the wall when the Spartan’s kickoff after mustering a field goal was returned for a touchdown.

Besides what was going on on the field, the announcers made me routinely reach for the mute button. The color man on almost every play said something like “I LOVE what they’re doing spreading the field”, or “I LOVE how they’re running their routes”; who the hell cares what you LOVE? And in his rhapsody he routinely missed players names.. “A great run by Smith!”; play by play man: actually (whatever his name was) it was Jones.. Well I LOVED how he made that cut. And near the end of the first half, he pontificated that “Good teams will do a controlled march down the field and score”. To their credit, the Irish did just that, scoring with about three minutes left. I don’t believe I heard that phrase when the Spartans came right back and did the same, only to try a repeat of the fake field goal (c’mon Dantonio? You thought they forgot?) failed pitifully.  A game ending interception sent the Spartans back to East Lansing waiting for next week and Central Michigan!

Behavior of "The Stars"

And lastly, I know that the Irish players are young, and are disappointed with their performance prior to this game, and so on. But apparently none of them had ever made a tackle, or knocked down a pass in the backfield, sacked a quarterback because every time they did that, it was cause for massive rejoicing, chest bumping and general “Look at ME” behavior. One time a Cousins pass (well, more than once) sailed three feet over the potential receiver’s head by a, and the defender acted like he just won the super bowl (which is probably where he thinks he will be). And after scoring a touchdown, one of the Notre Dame players made some sort of sign (not the bird) toward the stands, whereupon he got flagged for whatever. When he reached his bench, his outraged teammates assaulted him with back slaps, wide grins, and high fives. The poor humiliated player was laughing.

And to be fair, as I always am, this behavior is becoming more the rule than the exception throughout college football. Whatever happened to making a play/interception/touchdown; handing the ball to the referee and generally acting like “I do this all the time, it’s no big deal”. Ever see Jimmy Brown do a victory dance in the end zone? I think not.

Okay, Domer, let’s do lunch!


Eight years ago today, we were visited by Hurricane Isabel..

And she was definitely


Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday of This and That.....

As the temperatures go down, the events go up. A couple of biggies this weekend are the Artsfest at Annemarie Gardens, and the Taste of St. Mary’s. There’s also the Charles County Fair.

To Do

The Artsfest is the annual display of craft and music. We have been there in years past, but probably not for the last four or five years. This year they feature 150 artists for the juried show, and over 20 bands. Two days, no fee to park, but $6 to enter. The schedule is printed in the “weekend” section of the paper. I note that there is a band per hour from 11 to 4 both days. Take that for what it’s worth.

Literally and figuratively, a little closer to home is the also annual Taste of St. Mary’s, held on the square in Leonardtown. No fees to enter or park, but you will need tickets for sampling the food from about a dozen local restaurants. I was surprised to learn that the Taste of ST. MARY’S will also include one of the Stoney’s properties. Gee, I thought they were in Calvert. Turns out that “they” are a member of the St. Mary’s Chamber of Commerce (the sponsor of the event), so I guess they are “legal”. Of course more familiar venues will be represented, like Café Des Artistes, Morris Point, Quality Street, and others. Apparently the Tides will be there this year. Anyway, it’s a good chance to try some of the fare of places you don’t normally visit, but maybe you will after the Taste. That’s the whole idea (besides raising funds for the Chamber).

There’s the Pax Velo, the annual bicycle event sort of sponsored by Mike’s Bikes. Begins and ends at Leonardtown campus of CSM. Kind of a touring ride. Starts at 7 am tomorrow. Have fun..Don't wake me up!

Guess that’s enough of that.  pick something and get out of the house!

Moon and Sun

As I often mention living on the water has its rewards, although dues are paid through coastal flooding, storms that have names, and things like that. Last night, the (waning?) full moon was on display and I put the camera on the tripod and took a few shots.

Actually I took many playing with the dials and buttons on the camera. Smarter than me, but good practice.  And after you sleep on it, the day begins anew

Finally Food..

A short addenda to my recounting of a luncheon visit to CD yesterday. It should be noted that it is just that, experiences with many lunches. We hardly (never?) eat there for dinner. The aforementioned wait, noise, crowded condtions usually trumps the food for dinner..

And another addenda to the little post about magazine things of interest. Space didn’t permit me to include one from “Cook’s Country” an arm of the Kimball empire. Like most of his publications there are “tips” in front sent in by readers to make your culinary life easier. The one that caught my eye was from a reader in Kenosha, Wisconsin (yeah, you betcha!). She divulged a family secret of keeping a little plastic knife in her canisters of baking stuff. She gave us the blinding flash of genius that: “by scraping the excess off the top of the measuring cup, my baking is more precise!”. Sometimes ya gotta wonder. What do they take us for?

At least we don’t need a tip to tell us to


Thursday, September 15, 2011

C's, D's, Skins and Fat...

Lunch, as I often have said is a nice chance to catch up with friends without the pressures of dinner. So yesterday I caught up with a regular luncheon companion and we decided to meet at CD Café on the Solomons.

I have often ragged on CD for their “no reservations” policy, and still do, but for lunch I will give them a pass. I arrived around 12:30 and gave my name and party size (2) and retired to the hard benches in the hall. At least they could provide comfortable seating. But no, only those hard benches. Five minutes into our “about 20 minute” wait my companion arrived and we chatted in the relative silence of the hall. A few minutes later we were beckoned, and entered the dining space. I will not regurgitate my feelings of the area, but it is too small for the amount of tables (you can touch at least two or three from yours) and the noise can be deafening. Table A is occupied by ladies who lunch and are having a good time and their laughter can escalate into upper registers. So, Table B, has to raise their voices to be able to converse, where upon Table A is forced to elevate their noise, and Table C is required to follow suit in louder terms just to talk. This upward spiral of dB’s is known as “cocktail party syndrome” and is a familiar phenomenon to acoustical engineers. If everybody would just “hush” it would work.

We were approached by our server who tried to announce her name and I think told us she would be “serving us” and enumerated the off the menu choices. We opted for a couple of glasses of wine and had a chance to converse in elevated voices. Eventually we got around to ordering, and my friend chose the Curried Chicken Salad, and I went with a special of Grilled Shrimp with Penne pasta.

I have often wondered why CD remains packed and a continual place of choice on the Solomons. Too many tables, not much atmosphere, zero view, too loud, under staffed, and no (dinner) reservations. Yet, they survive and prosper. Why? Because over the years they have honed a menu that provides a wide selection of good choices, all of which have proven the test of time. The specials are usually interesting. The food is always good to above average. I personally think that their spiced dishes are overly so, and that salads are under dressed. But, that’s just me. You are you.

So anyway, I ordered the grilled shrimp over Penne pasta special and my friend took the reliable curried chicken salad.

And geez, I am finally getting to the point of all this. My dish had three grilled shrimp, on a bed of Penne pasta with bits of tomato and wilted spinach, with a tasty garlicky broth. Okay, here it is: How freaking hard is it to peel tomatoes? You pay prep chefs, why not get rid of the skins? Yes, it takes longer, and maybe you lose a little bright red in the dish. I ate the pasta, but then had to pull the bits of skins from the tomatoes off my teeth. PEEL THEM! You see it all the time.. sandwich? Skins on the slices. Salads? more skins. It cheapens the dish. Please.

And then we get to the shrimp. The shrimp on the pasta were about thumb size. Have you ever noticed that the peeled and deveined shrimp usually have that little string of fat on each side of the cut on the back? It’s tough and not attractive and you’re forced to peel it or eat it. I always pick it off. I try to place it prominently on the plate for the server to observe, but mostly it’s ignored. What a better presentation if it were gone. How hard is that? Leave it on, it's not attractive. Pull it off, and it’s a nice piece of shrimp. I don’t want to have to do it, it’s your problem. Make me happy, remove it.

So we had a nice lunch, the food was good, but gee it could have been much more enjoyable with a little more care in the kitchen. Peel and pick!

I will give them high marks for consistency. As I said, the food is always reliable and good, and the specials give some flexibility for the diner from their proven standards on the menu. But they are also consistently crowded, loud, bustling, and you will most likely have a wait. You have to decide if the food justifies the other. You know what you will be in for if you go. Choices, choices..

And still you must be


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Well, MFO and the Momster are headed down the road for Richmond with a friend from SMCHS to attend the annual meeting of the AASLH. Yikes! More acronyms! Well, the friend is from the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, and they’re going to the American Association of State and Local History’s meeting. There’s stuff on preservation of photographs, papers, and stuff like that. They will be returning full of knowledge on Saturday. I doubt that there will be any dining opportunities for them..

So, back here there’s not much going on except chain restaurants sprouting like mushrooms. I’ve been having some time to peruse some of the magazines that arrive almost daily, and there are a few factoids that might be worth passing along. In no particular order…

September Feast Magazine (another St. Louis foodie freebie): A nice article about Bob’s Seafood, the legendary (well, maybe quite famous) fish market that began as an open air stall in the “Loop” in University City that was stocked weekly by a run to Louisiana by (guess who) Bob Mepham. Now located on Olive Boulvard they continue to supply many of the better known restaurants in St. Louis with seafood (Annie Gunn’s, Monarch, etc.). While still in St. Louis, I used to frequent the store on the loop for our seafood. Eclectic place, but increase in business demanded a larger venue. There was also an unrelated little article on “berberechos”. It is left to the reader to find out what those are…

Sept/Oct Imbibe: A nice article on Irish Whiskey. Another exercise for the interested reader is to research the use of the letter “e” in the word, both in America and abroad. Anyway, the gist of the article is the exploding popularity of Irish whiskey. Imbibe’s thrust is toward the “mixologist” side of things with lots of esoteric multi ingredient stuff so they sully the straight whiskey with recipes for such drinks as:

The Lost Barrell

1 ½ Oz blended Irish Whiskey (okay, check)
¾ Oz. Domaine de Conton ginger liqueur (what?)
½ Oz. fresh lemon juice (easy)
½ Oz. demerara syrup [1:1] (what the hell is that?)

Guess I won’t be making that tonight.. I’ll stick with my DMOTHRWAT.. Anyway, they list several Irish offerings, most of which I tried when I was in Ireland. Kelbeggan; Powers; Redbreast; Greenore (my favorite); although they left off Paddy’s..

September bon appétit (The Restaurant Issue): features the “Best New Restaurants of 2011” as selected by Andrew Knowlton, who calls himself the “BA Foodist”. Yuchhh… Anyway his top choice is Husk, in Charleston, SC, and features their pork chop with wood fired leeks, and spicy kale. Looks good. We’ll spare the rest, but cities include San Francisco, Seattle, Robbinsdale (MN), Philly, Chicago, LA, Long Island City, Austin, and Cambridge. Somehow, the Olive Garden in California, Maryland didn’t place. Oh, neither Gwyneth Paltrow or the word “best” made the cover..

The Wine Advocate, Issue 196. An exhaustive review of wines from California’s Central Coast, and Washington, Part I. Interesting reading from the popularly available Central Coast labels like Au Bon Climat; Cambria; Fess Parker (a $50 Pinot with 93 points); Ojai; etc., to lesser (or un)known bottles. An example would be a box of three bottles and one magnum of 2008 Syrah Cumulus Vineyard from the Next of Kyn, which Mr. Galloni (one of Mr. Parker’s stable of tasters) awarded 94 -96 points. Oh, the price? A mere $1,100. Washington weighs in with not only the familiar Columbia Crest (mostly upper 80’s points), but many smaller vineyards. A nice reference to keep.

Off (Current) Topic

And if you haven’t given up yet, I’m going to sneak in a little, well, not quite a rant, but an observation on the recently concluded US Open Tennis Tournament. A field of mostly non-American players with multisyllabic names but generally the stars of the tennis universe. In every sport, there are what I would term “gentlemen and ladies” of the sport. Tom Watson and Julie Inkster in Golf, Cal Ripken in baseball, Rebecca Lobo or maybe Cheryl Miller in basketball, and maybe you could throw in Bill Russell. Players who just play at a high level, they don’t dance, taunt, scream, or pound their chest. They just play and play well. Players like that in the US Open were few and far between. I think maybe Roger Federer can join that crowd, but who else? It’s hard for me to endure those screaming women or grunting men shot after shot after shot. And I guess have to admit that I was pleased that the coronation of Serena Williams was side tracked by an unassuming Sam Stosur. Serena stopped short of threatening to shove another tennis ball down the throat of a lines person, but again melted down at the thought that she had to play by the rules and not scream “come on!” while the ball was in play. And what (to me) is worse, after the match she’s all sweetness and light, just a smiling charmer. Right.

Although I might occasionally scream


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Plugging along

Well, by the time you, dear reader, lay eyes on this it should be transparent what sort of process created it. It will hopefully be invisible to you that I have been sitting screaming at an inanimate screen that doesn’t care what little icon I click, or that I have spent twenty minutes doing what I normally do in three. I apologize for the little upheaval here, and experience has taught me that eventually I will (with no choice) adapt and live goes on. Until they want to improve things again..

One reader was kind enough to pass on the following quote which sort of characterizes my feelings…

Normal people believe that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

I think the good folks at google should pay attention..

Anyway, in the real world, it’s been kind of busy. Yesterday (Saturday) I went and looked at the folks ready to plant oysters in St. Mary’s river.. Lots of Volunteers, 

no oysters at the time.  The vehicles delivering the bivalves experienced mechanical troubles and were beside the road somewhere on Indian Bridge Road.  Since I had “chapel duty” at historic St. Mary’s City, I had to leave before the oysters arrived, but I’m sure the intrepid St. Mary’s River Watershed folk got the job done.

As far as the chapel went, it was Woodland Indian Discovery Day at the City, which brought out lots of folks and kids to learn about the native Americans who were here when the colonists arrived. I had about sixty five folk visit the chapel and it is always fun to tell the story. Some are quite knowledgeable (those are the dangerous ones!) and others just want to listen.

Leading up to the day we experienced some interesting weather, complete with storms as Lee was “Leeving” the scene.

I’ve always said, that something is always happening on the river. We often see these “lines” in the river,

 and I have been told the are the result of the interaction of tides and water current. Upwelling and downwelling kind of thing. I once learned the name of the phenomenon, but I can’t find it. Begins with “L” as I recall..

Food Hook

Just to keep the food chops active, I had a couple of lunches lately, one at Bollywood in San Souci, and also the Tides. A few chinks here and there, like the luncheon dish arriving with both ordered sides wrong, and slightly scant portions on the Indian buffet. The luncheon situation was corrected graciously. We also had dinner at the Dry Dock, and I’m happy to report things are evening out there. Service has smoothed and the kitchen still delivers pretty tasty food.

So, that’s about all there is today, although we may go up to the Blue Crab’s baseball game. More on that later

And yes, nervous reader, I will conclude with


Friday, September 9, 2011

Technology ?

I got some feedback that some did not see the pictures with yesterday's post. there should have been a duck photo and a hawk sitting on my pool surrond. I wonder if they don't translate if you receive it by email.

more birds:

now this is different also.. it's the old interface

Thursday, September 8, 2011

There they go again....

Well, they’ve done it again. In an effort to “improve” things for improvement sake, “Blogger” the little interface Google uses to help you create your (and the Bottom Feeder) has created a new version. I already had trouble with the existing one, causing me to go “back” to Internet Explorer 8 in order to be comfortable.

So mostly I’m throwing words on paper here to “test” the new thing with the IE9 which I’ve kept on this computer (desktop vs. laptop where all the images reside).

I don’t know why you can’t just have something that works, is reliable, and just keep it. No, we have to have new buttons, formats, and screens leaving the poor user (like luddite me) to figure out how to do what you have done for years. I suppose to the twenty somethings that designed it, it’s obvious and child’s play.

I suppose I have to find a picture to test that also. How about that san diego duck?

 (five minute struggle to insert picture) and then i can add more text,, try bold, try italics, try underline and looks like they offer color among the new options.

so maybe I can get used to this if I have to..   how about another practice picture?

well, that works..

I guess I can get used to it if I have to...  Change is BAD

but one thing they can't change is my steadfast adhearence to


and now, holding his breath he pushed the "Publish" button...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Goings and Comings...

There’s one thing that is constant in the restaurant business. Openings and closings. It may be years, months, or days in between, but it always happens.

So it was with some regret that the rumors (you heard it here) came true and the McDonald’s near us (Millstone/235) closed on August 31st.

Whoa!! Wait a minute Mr. Bottom Feeder, you generally rail against “chains” and McDonald’s is almost the epitome of chains (with over 13,000 of them in the USA)! Well, yes, that’s true. But occasionally, when MFO and I are beat, or the weather is crap, maybe the hour is late, it was convenient for us to take the three minute drive, endure the waits, hope the drive through gets it right (remember the Joe Pesci line about the drive through in Lethal Weapon II?), but if you get the fries fresh and hot along with a quarter pounder with cheese, it isn’t too bad a stop gap.

Speaking of the drive through, a quick aside here, the last time I went there I ordered, and the faceless voice in the squawk box said: “that will be $11.73, at the first window”. Since there was a wait, and all I had were twenties, I scrambled around and found a dollar bill, and three quarters at the bottom of the console, so at the window I gave her $21.75 saying it was the best I could do. Blank stare. Sir, this is a twenty, not a ten, you gave me too much! Well, I gave you $21.75, so all you would have to do is give me a ten and two pennies. Blank stare again, and then resigned to having to deal with an idiot, she turned to her keypad and punched in the numbers. Light apparently dawned when the machine did the math for her, and she handed me a ten and two pennies. There’s another whole story here, but we’re talking openings and closings.

Anyway, back to the present, the only thing noting the closing (besides no playground, no sign, no lights, dark windows) was this sign:

At least they care about my inconvenience..

So as we segue into “comings” the new home of the quarter pounder will be in the sleek “new” design of the golden arches

I won’t say the old one had character, but it was a throwback to my youth..

Other Comings:

I guess the Texas LongHorn will join the unholy trinity already packing them in up the road, Texas's “legendary” steaks (and a “passion for grilling”). Price points generally in the low twenties for those legends in their own mind. So, I guess the beef side of things is pretty well covered, but how about fowl? While certainly available at the palaces of protein, we are informed that (with no quips about buffalos having wings. budda bang):

Of course “soon” is a relative term. As of yesterday:

So the chains continue to fulfill the seemingly insatiable local appetite of food manufactured, frozen, delivered and prepared to an exacting method specified by the corporate kitchens. We’ll see. Remember Lone Star and Damon's?

The merry go round continues…

It’s a dog eat dog… well maybe that’s not a good phrase for this subject, but there is a lot of competition for your dining dollar. And yes, the onus is upon the Indies to make people abandon the plastic stuff..

as always


Monday, September 5, 2011

Irene exits, and allowing myself a Rant

Before getting it off my chest, just a couple of closing comments on Irene, gone, but not forgotten…

Earlier in the week, I was driving one of the back streets around Town Creek, when a pickup approached, and a young man was in the bed of the truck embracing a chain saw. Attached to the driver’s door with what I would like to say was duct tape, but I’m not sure, was an obviously hand lettered sign (complete with the “plan ahead” feature) that said “(Name)’s Tree Removal Service”. It’s an ill wind….

And secondly, before going on to an honest to goodness rant, is just an observation. We usually listen to radio station WTOP for news. During hurricanes, storms, blizzards, etc., they emulate the Weather Channel posturing themselves as the center of information. They proclaim that they will “stay on top of the power companies until all power is restored”. What this actually means is that they tell (whoever has power) the amount of people who don’t. Reciting statistics that are public knowledge, they go through them: PEPCO reports 15,254 outages; BGE 8,739; SMECO 2,831; and so on. How exactly this is “staying on top of the power companies” escapes me.

Bye, Bye, Irene.. you are not welcome here ever again..

Sports Rant (mostly golf).

Alert readers will remember that I often lament the “we’re number one” mentality of the networks in their approach to sports coverage. The very first college basket ball game (of over 30) is hyped by CBS as “The Road to the Final Four”; college football rages about who is a “BCS contender”; all the sports talk shows on pro football immediately start the (off and on) season hypothesizing on who is a “playoff” caliber team. Hockey immediately starts talking about the Stanley Cup. Baseball? “the Hunt for October!”. The implied message is that the “regular season” is only a minor prelude to the “playoffs!” Never mind watching a season of good plays by talented athletes, enjoying seeing their ability (notice the on purpose avoidance of the word “athleticism”), good competition, rivalries, and so forth. It’s only about where you finish in the last game of the season.

So, it is with this background that “Golf” apparently had to climb on board. Now to me, a “playoff” is head to head competition where the winner continues, and the loser goes home. If I (or my team) beats you, you’re done. Last man/woman/team standing can then claim they are “number one”. Fair enough. But the problem with golf is that it is an individual sport. You and the course. You can only control what you do, and pretty much have no interaction or impact on your opponent. So, how in the world do you come up with a “playoff”?

The obvious answer is to (somehow) develop a match play scenario which does have a head to head format. But no. Let’s come up with a system of “points” that nobody can possibly understand, changes drastically after every tournament all year, then when the “playoffs” start everything gets reset, and nobody knows what the hell is going on. It works so well that in years past the “leader” didn’t even have to play to win. So every year they “tweak” it in an attempt to create drama. Bull Hockey. Other than the $10 million for the final winner, I don’t think the golfers give a damn. They just play until the points tell them to eventually go fishing. And now that the playoffs are being covered, I can barely stand it. The little inset that used to tell you the player, what hole he’s on and his overall score, now contains another little number that indicates his “place” in the playoff. It’s either red or green depending on if he’s above or below the number that will continue, and rockets up and down depending on what player some player does 8 holes away. Announcers struggle to explain all of this to us ignoramuses, “If things don’t change, he’ll finish 73rd, but if so and so sinks this putt, he’ll be 21st”. Projected this, projected that… What idiocy. More announcers in post game: “What do you have to do to improve your chances of the cup?”; “What was going through your mind when Ernie Els sank that putt and ….”. They just play golf. It’s just the “media” trying to make this interesting. It’s not. Junk it.

Happier thoughts from our back yard yesterday:

oh yeah,,


Friday, September 2, 2011

The "I's" had it...

As Sunday progressed into Monday and we began to get out more, everywhere we went it looked like (borrowed analogy here) the road was carved through snow banks, except they were trees. Didn’t much matter where you were, there were scenes like this:

And if you look closely you can see various lines and such under them.. As more time passed without power, we begin to adapt to the situation. Fortunately we have so-called “city water” so that wasn’t a problem, and since we did have a propane cooktop we could heat water, and of course we had ice bags for a few things. Showers sort of posed an issue, but we found out that since we didn’t use any hot water from the tank after the power outage, if you got ready, held your breath, screamed a little, soaped up, and cranked the water to full hot you could get a minute or so of warm water. By Monday evening, this technique resulted in more screaming than warm water.

Anyway as we went out Monday morning, and turned onto Millstone (main escape route from the digs) we saw the most beautiful sign in the world (besides “bathrooms, next exit”) :

Then another beautiful sight

And more

At that point we didn’t question why or how, we just were happy to see them. On one trip back to the digs, MFO was at the head of the line waiting to use the one lane open to traffic. A workman was standing there with a computer so she figured he would know, and asked the most popular question: “sooooo, when do you think we might have power?”. He replied that he “hoped” by this evening.. cautiously optimistic..

Monday evening our Rotary club held a little life rememberance for our friend and fellow Rotarian Kirk MacKinnon, and when we left for that around five, the power people were still working. When the service was over around eight or so, we grabbed some of the leftovers from the little buffet for a “dinner” at home. Tension was building the closer we got to Millstone Landing road, no power trucks in sight, and we were disappointed to see dark houses. So once again, raise the damn garage door by hand, stumble around in the house, find the candles, and I used the remaining precious ice cubes packed away to make a couple of drinks, broke out the chili con queso, seared ahi tuna, spinach dip, and sat down on the screened in porch to a little candlelight buffet of our own.

Trying to maintain a positive attitude toward SMECO and the “hopefully” statement of the guy with the computer, aided by flashlights we retired to bed, and then in the glow from the lights on the Solomon’s we drifted off to sleep..

And then, and then, sometime around 11:00 I was awakened by something, sort of lifted the lids, looked around and thought “Damn it, we left some light on” Then the brain reluctantly began to work and it hit me….Wait a minute!! Holy (expletive deleted)!! We got POWER!! And indeed we did. Clocks blinking, fans rotating, the unmistakable noise of air coming through ducting, and all the other signs of a healthy house. It was over.

And I hasten to add that although we were without power from Saturday night through Monday night, there still are many, many, people who are without electric, and some with trees in the attic. So, all we are is grateful, and hope we are joined by everyone soon..

It’s a strange thing about these situations. I’m not saying it is a benefit to have no power and trees strewn about the landscape, but somehow it induces a sense of community. With nothing much to keep you inside, you go out in the yard, actually TALK to your neighbor instead of texting them, help them pick up, sweep some and share the experience. And with no A/C and open windows, the insulation between you and the outdoors is removed and you hear things! And without cable/internet/TV you can find this thing called a book, and read it (maybe by candlelight). Or just talk between you. While there is no doubt that our “modern conveniences” makes one more comfortable, there are things that shouldn’t change regardless of the weather.

So, Irene has gone away, but she left an indelible mark on lives and property, and a reminder of the tremendous power of nature. We are nothing.

We wish the best to those who are still in distress, and tomorrow will begin looking forward instead of backward. There are some notable food things to relate. And a new drive to


If you see this today (Friday) don’t forget Leonardtown will continue the First Friday tradition tonight. MFO and I are planning on attending.