Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OT: Are you ready for some....


(warning, another Sports rant to follow, foodies may scroll down to “back to food”).

Well I am not so much (ready) anymore. It’s getting so that I don’t enjoy watching the “pro’s” play. I watched a few games over the weekend, and found myself looking for college sports or punching the mute button. I thought football was a team sport. It appears that in the so-called “professional” version, it is only a “collection of individuals wearing the same uniform" sport. They don’t care much about the score, standings, or anything relating to “the team”, it’s all about them. In one game (Buffalo/Jets) between two struggling teams, a Bill’s player caught a pass for a touchdown, and proceeded to pretend to shoot himself (a la Plaxico Burriss) and fall to the ground. Real cute. Well, that resulted in having to kickoff from the 20, and it pretty much allowed the Jets being able to score. And then toward the end of the game the same player dropped a wide open pass. Perhaps he should focus on football fundamentals rather than his dancing prowess.

Did you see the awful behavior of both sides in the Skins/Seahawks game of two inept teams?. Taunt, dance, taunt, posture, in your face. Maybe Pete Carroll’s flamboyant style carries over to the field. His wonderful collection of players are 4 and 7. And, last night Brandon Jacobs of the Giants, who were clearly getting their doors removed, rumbled into the end zone to cut the score to 21 to 10. One would have thought that he had just won the super bowl. Or, how about that defensive back who finally makes some sort of play and proceeds to point and strut after watching the other team go by him repeatedly. Or maybe that running back who makes a first down, and postures and points. Oh, and after your first catch in the game, let’s drop the ball in the face of the back that has repeatedly covered you like a blanket. Ahead? Behind? I don’t know, just look at ME!

What pushed me to the brink last night during the Giants/Saints game was not only the foolish stuff going on in the field of play, it extended to the announcer’s booth. I will admit that the Saints were making the Giants defense look like a Pop Warner team, but “ color man” Jon Gruden did everything but put on a skirt and join the cheerleaders on the sideline. Every pass by Brees was a thing of art, amazing talent, unbelievable player, and every play by the Giants was stupid, uninformed, a bad decision, or lack of trying. C’mon Jon, you’re supposed to be impartial. Not.

I could go on (and sort of did, sorry) and on. Game after game. No responsibility for how your actions affect the team (Hey! Ndamukong Suh! You listening?) all that counts is just your own stupid ego and how big is next year’s contract. Tiresome.

Okay that’s out of my system for the time being..

Back to Food

I’ve been a little lax in keeping up with the local (greater Pax River) dining scene due to little things like travel to Santa Fe, the Inn at Little Washington, torching a prime rib, etc.

Anyway, here are a few tidbits, some older than others. It appears that now some chains are eating others… CiCi’s has closed in San Souci; Damon’s is still dark; as is Lone Star; on the other hand, Buffalo Wings and Beer is now serving same just down the road from San Souci. I see there is construction activity at the “old” McDonalds location across from San Souci which I guess means Golden Corral is on the way. I suppose plans are proceeding for the Texas LongHorn and Cracker Barrel. More chains…

On the “Indie” side, I know of no recent closings. On the opening side of the ledger, there is a new “chocolate shop” on Fenwick Street in Leonardtown, and I guess not really new is the new occupant of the Willows, of which I have heard mixed reports.

And as we approach winter, some of the independents will go on “winter hours” meaning only open on weekends at maximum, and sometimes altogether. I suppose that sort of drives people to more chains, and build habits.

And in winter, the type of dress will change when you


ROT (Really Off Topic) I just returned from another Brian Ganz piano talk. Chopin, Ravel, and Debussy. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And I learned about a “13th” chord. This Thursday night is a concert at 8 presenting Chamber Music with Brian, Violinist Jose Cueto, and cellist Suzanne Orban. They will play Barber and Beethoven..St. Mary’s Hall. No charge. Nothing to do, eh?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hey Turkey....Where's the Beef?

Well, Thanksgiving is over. For better or worse, whatever you cooked, ate, drank, and enjoyed is done for another year. Well, maybe not totally over if there are those great leftovers to snack on. We could have another session on things to do with those, but I’m full…

Anyway, as readers will recall, I had my reservations on hoopla with a fowl, so instead I went for the beef. In doing the research for Thanksgiving, a recipe in the latest Cook’s Illustrated (the one suggesting boiling your turkey) caught my eye:

It caught my eye for a couple of reasons, first because of the title – not only the dreaded “best” word, but indeed the “THE best”. One and only… Wow… that’s a pretty bold statement. THE best of all time!. The other reason that I liked it was that it offered a non-poultry option, something I had been looking for. And the clincher was it followed the “low and slow” technique, something I’ve never tried. So what the heck, with company coming, let’s try something you’ve never done before! . The lead-in article said that it was based on a recipe by British chef Hester Blumenthal who prepares his steaks from a prime rib cut by searing it with a torch, then roasting it in a 120 degree oven until the internal temp reaches 120 degrees and hold it there for 18 hours!  He then cuts and sears for a steak...

The theory is that the low heat produces an incredibly flavorful, moist and perfectly cooked roast, and there is talk about the low temperature and enzymes and so forth. The recipe in CI recognized that most home ovens won’t go below 200 degrees, but the clever guys under Chris Kimball devised a method to let us home schlubs get the same result. Sear it (in a pan), put it in the 200 degree oven and when the internal temp hits 110 turn off the oven and leave the roast in there for an hour, then pull it and let it set. Claims that this gets the roast to rare (~120 degrees).

Okay, lets rock! So, I obtained a three rib (~7 Lb.) roast on Monday, then Tuesday rubbed it with Kosher salt,

And put it in the fridge to “dry age” until Thursday morning when it had a nice dry exterior.

That brought me to the point of browning/searing it before putting it in the oven. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like that operation. Bringing a pan to high temp on the cooktop and then putting the item in there to sear is fine for the meat, but the counter top doesn’t fare too well. Usually results in coating it with grease and causing the lady of the house angst. So, I figured what the heck, let’s try the blowtorch technique. After a search of the basement (I KNOW it’s here someplace!) I finally found the torch, and verified it’s operation.

Somewhat concerned over brandishing an open flame in the kitchen (House Burns to the Ground in Bizarre Thanksgiving Accident!), so I decided to use the always helpful flat trunk top of the Flutter Mobile (right over the gas tank which didn’t enter the mind).

Held my breath and lit the torch and applied it to the meat.

It was surprisingly easy, and resulted in a nicely browned roast, and didn’t raise the interior temperature of the meat past the surface..

With the oven set up on “pure convection” and proper temperature

In it went!

I tried to invade the oven as little as possible for my trusty instant read thermometer, and when I did I had MFO handle the door. Pop it open, pop it closed, to keep the temperature up.  I am considering getting one of those remote reading things so you can just leave it without opening the door, but then you only get the temp in one point.. Don’t like that..

So finally when I hedged my bet a little I turned off the oven when the average internal temperature was a little over 115. At this point, I didn’t want to release any of the heat in the oven, so left it for the hour. And finally removed it from the oven

And left it on the counter to firm. By this time the guests arrived and we enjoyed libations and a lovely cheese platter, spiced olives, dry sausage, and salted nuts. By the time we got around to slicing the roast it was rosy rare, moist and evenly cooked. MFO’s “first” was a Grits Soufflé which turned out beautifully (Bon Appétit recipe):

As with all soufflé’s it looked beautiful out of the oven, but had “fallen” by the time its portrait was taken. We combined our dishes with our guests and assembled a lovely groaning board.

So all together we touched all the bases. We had beef, turkey, two salads, two “dressings”, some lovely bread, mashed redskin potatoes, gravy (courtesy of the bird), and a “traditional” recipe from each group. Theirs was classic herbed bread “grandma’s dressing” which was great, and MFO contributed her time honored “green 7-Up salad”. Desserts were either a pumpkin or apple pie, although most people eliminated the “or” in favor of “and”.

Wines included a Pommery NV Champagne, a 2010 unoaked Chamisal Chardonnay and an ’03 Barossa Valley Syrah, “the Standish” that was unearthed from the cellar at the digs. All were just fine, and in fact they were DWTHYL qualified.

I will definitely try the rib again, maybe at new years, but I will try to let it go just a bit longer as I would have preferred it just a “leeeeeetle” less rare. It has been just great cold however.

And again, the food was secondary (sort of, kind of) to the joy of sharing time with good friends. And we did raise our glasses to friends and family no longer present. Although it was not that Grand Cru…

As I said, I hope your experience was as enjoyable as ours. And now, life returns to whatever “normal” means to you..  but of course we all know what it means to


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Talk 2011

It’s funny about food. One advantage to getting multiple food magazines from semi-serious (Food & Wine, Bon Appétit) to serious (Art of Eating, Cook’s Illustrated) kind of allows one to get an overview of food trends, or at least believe you do. I have pretty much given up watching the Food Network, just makes me nauseous these days with all the celebrity crap. Competition? Gimme a break.


So anyway, a couple of years ago, fanciness was all the rage.  There was brining, de-constructing, rubbing, heat up, heat down, flip, tent, and so forth. Now it seems to be we’re getting back to basics, just roast the damn thing. Although Saveur is an “international” publication, I was surprised that the lead article was about “The Perfect Bird”, written by Molly Stevens. Thank god it wasn’t Molly Wisenberg. I was pleased to see her lead off with “I used to be expected to come up with newfangled takes on the Thanksgiving Turkey each year. I’ve brined it, smoked it, fried it, dry rubbed it; but eventually I (and everybody around the table) tired of elaborate seasonings and complicated preparations. What we really craved was a fantastic roast turkey….”. I might beg to differ with her on the last point, I kind of think “fantastic” and “turkey” are an oxymoron.

And maybe the editors of the magazines are beginning to reach the same conclusion. Although Martha Stewart Living devotes the cover to “Make it your BEST thanksgiving ever” the magazine devotes a whopping 6 pages (of 212) to the subject with only one turkey recipe. The rest is “Martha” stuff about making placemats with woven weeds from her yard and so forth. And the recipe is simple: Put turkey in oven at 425, roast 30 minutes, reduce temp to 325 until temp of bird (thigh) reaches 165. She does use a cheese cloth. And speaking of celebs, Food & Wine also has only one Thanksgiving turkey, this by Michael Symons. I never knew he existed but come to find out he owns seven restaurants and does four TV programs. What a food dedicated soul he must be. Lots of pictures of him and beautiful people enjoying themselves. Almost like Thanksgiving is a second theme.. His turkey is also put in at 350 and left to cook.

And that pretty much sums up the dozen or so recipes I looked at. Some call for starting at high heat for X minutes, then lower, some just stick it in about 365/75, baste and wait for the temp in the leg to reach 165 or 170. Only one source, Bon Appétit has four bird recipes, and all of them (!) called for the somersault technique of breast down then flip someplace in the process. So, “simple” pretty much carries the day. Preparations vary some, Tandoori, Cider brined with star anise, plenty of glazes, but mostly just plain roast the thing. I pretty much agree with that. Good old iconoclastic Cook’s Illustrated suggests braising a Turkey Breast. Not a whole lot (yes, there is some) of difference between braising and boiling!! The difference in finished product between jumping through hoops and just roast the thing is probably miniscule at best.  Okay, I will pass along one food tip.  It's a good idea to rotate the pan in the oven every hour or so...

Now “sides” are pretty much a different animal (ha ha). Here’s where you can flex your culinary muscles if you wish, or just do Grandma’s green beans.. Speaking of which, a quick aside here: I was in the supermarket the other day, and there were a pair of couples of my generation in the aisle and the conversation ran to: “Okay, you go get the green beans, I have the mushroom soup, and we need to find the dried onions”. Any bets on what is on their Thanksgiving table? Anyway there was plenty of magazine ink devoted to the vegetables and starches to go along side your pretty good turkey. Brussels Sprouts are in: “Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Walnuts”; as are almost any root vegetable: “Celery Root, Kohlrabi, and Apple Puree”; “Creamed Onion Gratin”; don’t forget those green beans; “Green beans with Miso and Almonds” and greens: “Creamed collard greens”; Squashes: “roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds”. And don’t forget the spuds: “The Fluffiest Mashed Potatoes”; “Potato and Celery Root Gratin with Leeks”; and yes, “Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble”. Seems like all the sides take a basic ingredient, and then “fancy it up”. They are, after all “Gourmet” magazines.


Surprisingly, pretty much absent in all the magazines was any extensive treatment of wines. Most didn’t even suggest a wine. Ray Isle, the wine guy for Food & Wine, did a piece called “Wine Lover’s Guide to Party Planning” wherein he listed what he thought was value priced wines at Target, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Whole Foods. Bon Appétit’s David Lynch listed what three Sommelier’s were drinking alongside his picks. The three Sommeliers he selected were characterized as Pragmatic, Iconoclastic, and Hedonistic. For instance the Iconoclast chose an “orange” wine from Long Island, the Hedonist took a 1er Cru Burgundy, and Mr. Pragmatic chose a Cru Beaujolais (NOT Nouveau!). Incidentally, “orange” wine is made from white wine grapes that are left on the skins (not normal practice) and so take on an orangish hue. All the rage these days.

Pairing wasn’t mentioned much, although I did like an article in the Washington Post Food Section called “What do you pair with baloney?”. The slant the article takes is to make some sense of Thanksgiving wines and the attendant aura.. He takes on the myth that “No wine can stand up to the Thanksgiving meal”. While kind of true, he suggests that wine should go with courses, such as a minerally Chablis with the poached oysters, a grand cru Burgundy with the roast pheasant, the myth arises when “the oysters are roasted inside the turkey, served with mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, and marshmallowed sweet potatoes, and that’s when the Sommelier runs screaming from the room”. His defense is to serve several wines of varying variety.....Which upon reflection is pretty damn close to my Drink Whatever the Hell You Like” advice.  Still is!!


So, there’s the Thanksgiving report for this year. While not in depth, I don’t think it has to be. The myth that Thanksgiving should produce wonderful, gourmet inflected, meticulously prepared food is bunk. The very first Thanksgiving was only about giving thanks for what they had, and that they were still alive and thankful for nature’s bounty. Maybe we should think about that rather than brining the poor bird in a 25 ingredient brine, prying under its skin, twisting and turning it during cooking, poking it with a thermometer, resting and carving.

No, the real joy of Thanksgiving is that it provides a reason to convene family and friends, a time to remember Thanksgivings past and people that were at the table then, and now only in memory and spirit, enjoy a meal and each other. Raise a glass to those memories, the ones in the making, and the many people that are in faraway places away from their families on this day.  Bless them.

Okay, enjoy whatever you cook and those you share it with. And of course on this occasion you MUST


PS: And if that glass you raise contains a Grand Cru Burgundy, so be it!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Talk, Part One and a Half..

Although I know everyone is hanging on the edge of their seat (is that a mixed metaphor?) waiting for the annual “turkey report”, I have to admit that it will not be published until tomorrow morning. I fear that those of you who receive this via email at maybe perhaps, your work address will miss it if you take tomorrow off. Don’t forget you can just go to the blog yourself with your browser (or “Google machine” as Tony Kornheiser says) just by clicking


The reason for the little delay is twofold. Number one, there is a lot of material to cover (although in a preview, it’s kind of disappointing) and number two, (and maybe most importantly), there are “chores” to be performed, and the Lady of the Manor is not interested in labor being wasted in idly doing silly stuff like posting blogs. Silver to be polished, chairs to be cleaned, rugs to be vacuumed, glassware to be identified, attention to small details like what the hell is the final menu, that kind of thing.

As a little teaser, I’m trying something completely different this year.. details to follow.

Quick Rant

And if you will spare me (“just a minute dear, I’m almost done!”) a little rant about local drivers I have to get this off my chest. Happened again just this morning...Say you are stopped at a red light on a major thoroughfare (like, maybe Rte. 235) and just down the road a quarter of a mile or so is the next light, which is perfectly visible from your current position. Okay, your (“yes, yes, I know!”) light goes green, but before you clear the intersection the next light is observed to be going yellow. Previous experience has taught you that the duration of that red light is such that you will most definitely have to stop again while waiting for cross traffic, left turners and so on. So instead of a jack rabbit start, you gradually increase speed, hoping that (unlikely) you will be able to arrive at the next light coincident with it going green, saving gas and brake linings. So there really is no hurry to get there. Reasonable? (“I’m hurrying!”). Apparently not. By doing this you are impeding the pickup behind you, as all you can see is a small portion of the grill in your mirror. And by God, if a space exists a screaming pass maneuver is called for. Out around, and cut back in.. I may have to yam on my brakes because the light is red, but by (“almost done!”) golly I passed that idiot ahead of me. One car better!!! Civility, where art thou? (“Okay, Okay, I’ll quit!”)

Just let me type


Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey Talk, Part One

It gets harder every year. As alert readers will most likely remember, I do a “Thanksgiving” post most every year.

Well, here it is Monday (late afternoon!) of T-giving week, and I have nothing yet. Part of the reason is that I remain firm in my conviction that you can take as much or as little time and effort preparing a turkey as you want to, and in the end you get pretty much the same product. So why waste both of our times on the usual crop of recipes? I think this year we’re doing beef. Of course there’s the tradition end of things as in “we always do turkey” and that’s fine, enjoy the memories if not the bird.

So, before me sits the usual pile of some of my November food magazines:

surprisngly, out of the bunch I have, only three of them have the traditional cover shot of the beautifully browned fowl. It would be interesting to be on the shoot for that sometime....  Anyway, Bon Appétit proclaims: “Amazing Turkey” and “The Secret to make Perfect Gravy Every time”; Food & Wine headlines: “Thanksgiving – 65 delicious recipes including the perfect turkey”; Martha’s two publications “Living” and “Everyday Food” let me “Make it your best Thanksgiving Ever” and the Everyday version has “Thanksgiving 1-2-3”. Cuisine at Home boasts “our tastiest recipes – holiday classics, and best ever holiday side dishes”. Saveur, in its usual quirky way features “28 Great Holiday Sides, and in a sub blurb “Meat-Free Thanksgiving”, avoiding the pesky Turkey.

I suspect the reason for all this hype every year is that the poor home cook (whom they assume is eternally looking for short cuts and time savers) tried one of their suggestions last year and it turned out that it resulted in a just okay turkey. So, this year by God, I’ll find that Holy Grail recipe or insider “secret” and turn out a miracle. Not gonna happen.

Anyway, I’ll do my homework and pay attention to any nuances that catch my eye and in particular see what this year’s wine suggestions are, and report tomorrow. Hopefully by now you have decided what your center of the plate item is, and have a pretty good idea about sides and other courses. I suspect that my usual conclusion on wine will be “DWTHYL” as usual..

But, we’ll see..
Another One:

A reader (alert as usual) reminded me of another phrase that’s working its way around lately. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Normally used at the start of an interview, the obnoxious interviewer pokes a microphone into somebody’s face and says; “Talk about…. what you heard, how you felt, etc.”. An adjunct to that sometimes heard is “Tell me about…”. Or another favorite: “What was going through your mind when…..”.

And since we’re sort of on the subject of interviews, another thing that gets me yelling at my inanimate television is at the half of a college football game, some “reporter” (somehow usually a female) waylays a coach who is trying to get to the locker room sticking her microphone at him. If his team is leading, says something stupid like: “How were you able to score so many points on that team?” I suppose answers such as “We’re better than they are” are not PC so there’s usually the trite “well, we found we could run on them” (translation: we’re better than they are); or if it is the coach on the short end of the score, out comes something like “Tell me what you have to do in the second half to get back in the game?”. First of all he doesn’t have to tell her a damn thing, and again he can’t say “we have to cheat”, and so we get something like: “Well, we’ll have to block better and make some plays” (translation: They’re better than us). Just once (and I suppose I never will) I’d love to hear them say: “Lady, that’s a stupid question – good bye” and head for the locker room. I expect there is some contract that makes the coaches have to suffer the Holly Rowes and Erin Andersons and other notes sports authorities of their ilk. However, I do enjoy watching them in inclement weather trying to manage their coif.

Did I just slip into a rant??

Don't forget to include in your Thanksgiving planning how you will


Friday, November 18, 2011

THE Guy....

Before we get to “the guy at table” story, just a short note on language. As somebody who uses it a lot, I keep my ear(s) open and, to paraphrase Yogi, “you can hear a lot just by listening”. I try to pay attention to current culture (does that make me a “Folklorist”?) and current trends in speaking. I have noticed that there are phrases that come into vogue, mercifully run their course, and eventually disappear. For instance on the Today show, they routinely used to tease an upcoming interview with (say) the mother in law of some axe murderer with the phrase: “So and So SPEAKS OUT”. What the heck does that mean? Or how often lately have you seen a “thank you” dressed up as “give a SHOUT OUT to…..”, or worse “let’s give a great big SHOUT OUT….”. Should I run out into the front yard and start yelling? Now lately another one has caught my attention. Usually it starts out with some situation and an individual reacting somehow, like “You know when somebody….” And then will end with “Don’t be that guy!” Ignoring the gender issue, it just gets tiresome. Who knows what’s next? Keep your ears open.. Just say what you mean…

This Guy:

We were sitting at our table at Bistro 315 in Santa Fe enjoying our cocktails when the table next to us was seated with a couple and another gentleman (“the guy”). All were DFD’d appropriately and were younger than us (as are most people) but not by a lot. Mature might be a good descriptor. Not that you (always) listen on purpose, but of course it’s hard not to overhear a few words here and there. When I heard the word “wine” I perked up and nonchalantly paid more attention. The lady was going on about how pleased they were that they could get together, and then began to talk to the guy about their upcoming wedding. They were so pleased he would be involved and they had heard so much about his knowledge of food and wine and were sure that he would provide a wonderful meal for them, yadda, yadda. He sort of basked in his reputation and said he would do his best, yadda, yadda. They finally got down to perusing the menu (and blackboard), and “the guy” took the proffered wine list from the server, and studied it for a while. I thought it was a very good wine list (where I found that 1er Cru Chablis that was heavenly) with nice choices in all price ranges.

They discussed the food for a while, and finally when the server approached the table, he said (and I am not making this up): “we’re thinking of a red wine, what would you recommend?”. Now this is not to say that servers are ignorant on wines, some are very knowledgeable and are glad to discuss wine if asked. But, if I were with potential clients (my supposition) the last thing I would do is ask the server what wine I should have. It wasn’t “we’re thinking of ordering (whatever), do you have some suggestions for us to consider”, it was “what would you recommend?” with no discussion on food, and they accepted her recommendation. As I recall it was fairly high end cab (surprise surprise) . I was quite amazed. Servers have their likes and dislikes, but I certainly would not suppose what they might like or recommend would apply to me.

After some dithering, he asked if he could have the Foie Gras appetizer as a main course. So if he was sophisticated enough to want that (wonderful) dish as a main course he was either showing off, or knew something about food. Either way, asking the server blind for wine recommendations was astounding to me. That’s “the guy” story

Students and Deer:

As a footnote to my “Folklorist” adventure the other night, I forgot to mention the drive home. Thanks to EST it was pitch black when the welcome relief of the end of the talk came and I headed out. People who ply our roads at night around here live in mortal fear of encountering deer at inopportune times with their auto; usually much to the mutual detriment of car and deer, sometimes including the driver. So driving at night on the back roads is always cautionary, or should be. And, on top of that, I find that as I grow into my golden years my eyesight at night is somewhat diminished. Is it really that dark out??? So I left the parking lot at St. Mary’s City and started down the dark road from Calvert hall toward Route Five. All of a sudden, (apparently) from nowhere a dark shape lept into view. It was a student, all dressed in black (fashionable or de rigueur I suppose) just walking along, assuming: 1) I could see him/her; and 2) regardless of that, he/she had the inalienable right of way. Wrong, and not smart. Fortunately, it wasn’t even close, no evasive action required in either case, just a little pause to let the heartbeat return to normal. In the short distance roughly between the State House and the Boat House (~.5 miles) this occurred at least four more times. Blissful youth I suppose. So now there is another hazard to worry about driving at night besides deer: College Students!! And their eyes don’t reflect nearly as well as their four footed companions..

Maybe at night the undergrads should consider


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A musical hit.... and a folklore miss....

Too many things to do in the land of nothing to do…

Monday afternoon I attended another faculty seminar at St. Mary’s College, entitled “Setting Words to Music”. It was given by David Froom, a nationally recognized composer, and a member of the faculty at the college. I always stand in awe of creative people and love to hear about the process (everybody has to have a process) that results in (in this case) a musical piece. Apparently Joe Urgo, the new president of the college (and cruise ship operator) decided the college needed “a song”, and asked Mr. Froom to whip one up. So, David explained how he set the lyrics to music (the lyrics were created by another faculty member). Before he took over, the lady who wrote the lyrics talked about how she went about it. She said that because the college was so dominated by water she wanted to bring that out, and so used a lot of soft and flowing words. Lots of “S’s” and “H’s” and so on. Who would’a thunk? She also used the term “word painting”. And, to be truthful, I never did hear the complete song, but don’t think it was of the “cheer, cheer, for old…”, or “let’s go seahawks, beat those..” variety, but more of a level commensurate a liberal arts College.

David’s description of how he went about setting it to music was very interesting. He first talked about how a school song should be something ordinary people could sing (unlike the Star Spangled Banner), so needed it to be “simple” with a limited range (unlike…). So in talking about composing, he used terms like “step” and “jump”, first and fourth chords (which, thanks to Brian Ganz’s talks, I actually knew what he meant), and how he has learned that the important words need to be on the highest notes of the music. He had the score projected on the wall and used a laser pointer to illustrate various points he was making.

The remainder of his talk was how he generated another composition based on a poem that caught his eye. It was a translation of a poem originally written in Hebrew. At this point, the little automatic pencil I use for creating notes in the famous little brown journal (which contains restaurant notes and other such treasures) ran out of lead, so I can’t name the poet. But he explained how he read, reread, and listened to the words, got the rhythms, emphasis, and then would begin to construct the music. He knew what the instrumentation would be, and went from there. Fascinating stuff. He did play some of the piece, and it was “contemporary” which I hope is the correct term in that it didn’t have a melody, phrasing was interesting, and it was sung by a baritone. For his second example on another poem, he used the technique that I relate to the Messiah, where a simple phrase like “and then the light came out” is turned in to multiple phrases, as in “and then the light, and then the light came, and then the light came out, light came out, light, light, came out”.

Anyway it is always interesting to hear talented people talk.

So, I was enthused for the second lecture, held yesterday, which was given by Millie Rahn in St. Mary's Hall, entitled “The land of pleasant living; looking at the folklore and folklife of Maryland”. The more elaborate description of her talk included some words about foodways, which also caught my eye. Ms. Rahn is an anthropologist and describes herself as a “Folklorist, Ethnographer, and Oral Historian”. That “folklorist” description was a new one on me, but by the end of the evening I heard it about fifty times. Although describing herself as a “Marylander” she had never been to St. Mary’s County. She had, however, spent some time in Newfoundland, and was aware of the Calvert’s involvement there. Her talk was scheduled for 90 minutes. Well, the first 80 of those was spent in a rambling discourse on the importance of “place”, oral traditions, how important it is to document things, how neat it is to be a folklorist, and other sort of non-related generalities. Anything in the first 60 minutes or so relating to Maryland was pretty much skipped. Toward the end, she did present a couple of interesting videos of “local” things like a clip from a film about Dorchester, Maryland called “Muskrat Lovely” and some oral recordings of people who worked on the Bay Bridge.

Oh, I did get one good food takeaway. She talked about the famous (Maryland State Dessert) Smith Island Cake. Alert readers will know that it is a cake made of several small layers and lots of frostings. She said (one source, not checked out further by me) that the reason it has so many layers was that it was made before electricity reached the island, and using “Kerosene” heat, they could only bake small layers at a time. Sounds good to me..

With about ten minutes left, there was a “oh, I guess I should answer questions” but time had pretty much ran out. I was quite disappointed in the whole thing.  There were some interesting points, but I had hoped for so much more...

And being a foodie/engineer guy, I am always afraid that my background prevents me from “getting it” in these academic presentations. Sounded dumb to me, but maybe I’m too stupid to understand. Well, I checked with a couple of friends in the academic community (an anthropologist for one) and they shared my opinion that it was a poor presentation. Maybe I’m not too stupid. Just a little stupid.

So while I usually laud the college for great opportunities to hear a variety of subjects, this one was a whiff. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, I guess reality is that they are not guaranteed..

And, I know I still owe you the “guy at the next table” story from Santa Fe. Was going to append it here, but that would most likely extend this post past your reading fatigue limit.. besides, I have a meeting in about an hour. So I have to go get


Monday, November 14, 2011


The eagle has landed…so to speak.

I was brought back to earth last week after the glow of our lovely dining in Santa Fe at Terra and Bistro 315, and the crown jewel of Little Washington began to fade . I had agreed to meet some friends for a little lunch meeting regarding one of the local civic organizations, and they picked (drum roll…) the Olive Garden! Since everyone had agreed to time (and place) I decided not to get uppity and accepted my fate.  As the week turned out it provided a contrast between:

The Chain:

So, for the first time I drove into “restaurant row” and parked in front of the Tuscan Inn in the middle of Lexington Park/California, Maryland, USA.. Not knowing whether I was first or last to arrive, I went in and was “attacked” by a greeter with an armload of menus and a cheery “Good Afternoon, how many in your party?” I explained I was looking for somebody and was invited to search the place. Once inside, you could be in any city in America. Standard stucco walls with homey Italian prints, and several rooms giving some degree of privacy. First pass didn’t reveal any of my friends so I went back outside where another of our party was resting on the bench. Eventually we got a “where are you?” text, with the knowledge that indeed others were inside. We found them in a little cranny and joined them. Soon a pair of servers approached with the welcome news they would be taking care of us, and the fact that one was an intern, her first day on the job.

No sense in belaboring things, you know what the menu is, it hardly ever changes, which if you find something you like, most likely it will be churned out consistently. First Day on the Job was trying hard, and managed to get in about twelve “you guys” in the space of taking our orders for food and drink. We were all males, for whatever that’s worth, I suspect a coincidence.

I opted for a Panini and soup (choosing Gnocchi soup and Tuscan chicken sandwich). A friend ordered a side salad that morphed into a Caesar upon delivery but what the hell..

The food was okay, nothing wrong or nothing spectacular, and “are you guys doing okay?” was peppered at us but I suppose with good intent. And after the meal “us guys” didn’t save any room for dessert..

Prepackaged, processed, push it out, here’s your check, turn the table.

And The Independent:

I was able to contrast the “formula” lunch above with another later in the week over on the Solomon’s. Lotus is a restaurant run by a couple of talented local chefs, and is located in a quaint little house (nearby Carmen's Gallery) that probably started life as a summer home, so it in harmony with its surroundings (unlike plopping a "Tuscan Farmhouse" in a field). It has a kitchen in back, and tables in what were probably the living sand dining room. If the weather cooperates, you can also sit on the porch and watch the world go by. They offer a selection of fresh sandwiches, daily soups, salads, flatbread pizzas, quiches, and of course desserts, along with a selection of daily “specials”, all at reasonable prices. There are also beers and wines available. As chance would have it, on the day I was there, one of the specials was “Chicken Cordon Bleu” soup and a Gruyere grilled cheese sandwich.. how can you beat that? You place your order at the counter, usually to one of the chefs so you can discuss any changes you might want. We had a seat in one of the little rooms, and pretty soon our food was brought out. Mine was a pretty sizeable (pretty red) cup of the creamy soup which had actual hunks of chicken (not cubed or shredded) in a rich broth (I find out) of pureed roasted garlic, ham, and Swiss cheese, into stock with added cream and lovely little leaves of baby spinach floating on it. Quite pretty. Very rich and satisfying. The grilled croissant Gruyere cheese sandwich had a lovely bite.It will definitely go on the list…

So which would I rather do? Originality and creativity or a laminated plastic menu that never changes… “you guys” figure it out.

And I dunno about


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Last Course....

As another instance of “doing it right” at the Inn at Little Washington, when we returned from the memorable dinner we found a little card in script next to the clock radio that said “For your convenience, we have adjusted the clock to standard time”. So we were grateful for the “extra” hour of sleep (which the concierge said came at no extra cost).

The next morning, before we went over to the Inn for breakfast MFO and I walked around the town some. Although dominated by “the Inn” and it’s out buildings, it is a pleasant little place with lots of galleries and shops. Kind of reminded us of our recent Santa Fe/Canyon Road experience..

In the small plaza in front of the Inn, there was a fountain, and it was cold enough that ice was forming on it..

We roamed around, and found some interesting places

We also saw some things that were sort of an East Coast version of Santa Fe memories

We found a little garden behind the Inn itself

And we observed some of the poorer residents of town who had to park their vehicles on the street

And the town thoughtfully provided some helpful signs to help the tourists with their major concerns…

Finally, we began to feel hungry, so we went back in the room for a bit, and then the clan gathered for breakfast. Since we had not had a chance the previous evening to consume the champagne from the “kids”, MFO took it over to the Inn and asked if it could be served with breakfast. “Of course Mrs. Moody, we’ll add it to the table we have set for you.”

So we went over and were seated inside at a pre-set table for six, which included flutes for the champagne and the bottle chilling on the side.

The fact that we stayed in a room overnight meant that the “continental” breakfast was included, but the clever people had the a la carte menu on the other half of the page. The continental included pastries, jams, yoghurt, granola, etc., but on the other side was pork fat!

As a greeting they brought a little tray of four juices in the same glasses that the bean soup was served in the previous evening. Freshly squeezed orange, pineapple, cider, and raspberry essences. All were very good. then came a little tray of fresh fruit (raspberries and blueberries flanking the yoghurt), and a little shaker of granola. I passed on everything but the fruit, I don’t know where they got those berries, but they tasted as if just fresh picked. The breads were croissants, muffins, and little raisin toasts. And they were accompanied by several house made jams.

Anyway, we all decided to get the real stuff, I had eggs Benedict with citrus hollandaise, MFO had the omelet du jour, FOJTY did French toast, and FOJTE did a “trio of American breakfasts”. The distaff side of the FOJ’s decided that maybe they would stick with the continental, but the server said, well, we could just split the omelet and it wouldn’t be so much to eat. Fine.

Okay, I’m not going into all the details again, you had that with the main course. But just as a hint, my eggs were honest to God properly poached eggs done in boiling water, not those damn egg cup round things with a yolk staring at you in the middle. The egg was trimmed, and laid on a gorgeous piece of salty country ham on a wonderful small muffin. The yolks were golden, not yellow, and oozed not ran, just barely coagulated. You ever tried that at home? Not very easy. The sauce was done right.  FOJTE’s trio was a little ramekin of scrambled eggs, a diminutive skillet of corned beef hash topped with a quail egg, and a small soufflé (I think…). Oh, a skillet of bacon and sausage was brought to the table to share. The champagne went well.

So at last it was time to leave. In August when we reserved the rooms, they took my card number.. At no time during our stay was further card running required, I put the tip on any food bill, signed the room number and that was it. When we left, it was only “Thank you Mr. Moody, we hope to see you again”. No money.

So we all departed and headed back to all our normalcy’s. As I said, our family together, good food, gracious service, great wines (which I spared you), lovely setting, watching a world class kitchen operate, meeting Patrick O’Connell…. Priceless.

And it occurred to me, would I go back? First blush is: “of course!!”, but there’s always a risk in “going home again” that you will fall into the “last time, we…” trap and begin to find fault with a return visit. On the other hand, a world class place should be the same, time after time after time. It’s what they do. So we’ll see.

Next bucket list: The French Laundry in Yountville, CA…

Where of course we would again have to be


and at last we can return to banal stuff like chain restaurants, and oh, yes, the story about the "guy next to us"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Main Course

Perhaps like the dinner, this should be consumed in courses...

Emeril used to talk (before he was a celeb) about needing “Smell-o-vision”; I wish I could do “taste-o-blog”…..

Where to start? When one is dining at “one of the ten best restaurants in the world”, expectations are soaring, but we really didn’t know what to expect..

So, after we DFD’d, we walked over to the Inn, and were immediately greeted with “Good evening Mr. Moody, your table in the kitchen is being prepared, would you like to sit in the lounge and relax with a cocktail or glass of wine?” Of course. We were seated in a little bar area with plush chairs, small tables and the same lush decoration as the lobby. Three silver dishes of those wonderful nuts appeared, the “kids” had sparkling wine, and MFO and I did the usual cocktails (it’s my duty). Mine appeared in an up glass, with a stabber of something, and when I asked the server he apologized, whisked it away and almost instantly had a perfectly prepared DMOTRWAT. We had some good conversation anticipating the food, and just before we finished, the maitre'd came to the table and said our table was prepared and could he usher us in..

Before we stood up, he went on to say that Patrick O’Connell was a self taught chef, originally wanted to be an actor, but through kitchen work found his calling. He has been dubbed “The Pope of American Cuisine”. With that we left the little bar area, and approached a couple of double doors, which opened into the kitchen. There was Patrick in front of the Sous Chef Station with the whole kitchen staff lined up behind him, hands folded behind their back , not quite at attention... One of the ladies was dressed as an alterperson, white smock and red collar.  Wow...  “Welcome to the Moody’s!” We were then led to one of two “Chef’s tables”. If you go to the Inn at Little Washington web site, and watch the pictures scroll, eventually you will see a picture of him with the kitchen in the background, and our table was the one to the right of the fireplace.

Since we were to the side of the kitchen we had an excellent view of its operation. Everything in the kitchen was stainless, with that huge copper hood, and the walls done in wood, and around top of the walls were old English scripts about tradition (I never saw the whole thing). There were Gregorian Chants playing, giving the whole space a church like atmosphere (commensurate with the “Pope” thing), but what amazed me was that it was very quiet. If you’ve been in other kitchens, you might hear chopping, or pans hitting the burners, clanking this and that, but not here. Everybody went about their job quietly; orders were relayed from the Sous Chef and repeated back by the line workers, but just in speaking voices. Never heard any “Where the hell is my CHICKEN!!”. Servers picked up dishes from the Sous Chef station where Chef O’Connell remained all night, touching each plate that left the kitchen. As it should be.

Francois, who would be our captain for the evening presented the menus and the wine list. There were two menus, the regular dinner service menu

And the “tasting menu” note the top line…. How nice….

Being the birthday boy, I wanted to do the Gastronaut menu, and everybody else honored that (one in all in) so we did six with wine. What the hell, die broke. With that settled, our course for the evening was set (10 courses, 7 wines). Water glasses were in silver chalices, and kept full all evening, replenishing ice as needed.

While we pondered those decisions a little box of the popcorn was set before us and fresh truffles were grated on top. Very tasty…

As we were finishing munching (and the cocktails that appeared from the bar), a little amuse bouche was brought to the table in the form of six little ceramic spoons, each with a little taste of something which was described. For instance one looked like a little fried egg, except the “yolk” was cucumber essence, and the “white” was a bed of foam of Gin and Tonic… very creative and fun..

Then the bean soup…

The little puff is a perfectly made Gougere, light and fluffy with the bite of the Gruyere, served alongside the silky soup which was rich with bean flavor…you didn't want it to end..

I am not going to go on about all the dishes, although FOJTE did capture an image of all of them, but just a few..

The "Tin of Sin":

The little “tin” of caviar had a layer of the little eggs that tasted of the sea, and under that the cooling cucumber rillette on top of the peekytoe crab.. heavenly.. of course the wine was Champagne a classic combination..

Filet of black cod:

Which “paired” (okay, I said it) well with the primier cru Chassagne Montrachet.

And let me insert a little comment here.. which applied to each and every dish we had. See those little mushrooms? You eat one of those, just by itself and say “wow!” woodsy, musty little guys, the red peppers? Wonderful. Cut into the shrimp dumplings and there were the shrimp. Great by themselves. The sauce was fork worthy, the cod was just a little crispy on top then silky smooth under that. My point in this is (and I’ve made it before) each and every ingredient on each and every plate could stand on its own. Not just there to be pretty (which of course it was), but every bit on the plate was wonderful.  And when it all comes together.... That’s what you get at great restaurants.

The lobster fricassee:

The Rib Eye:

The bone marrow custard was encased in a cup made from a potato, the risotto was, well, you get the idea. Those onion rings were in some lightly seasoned batter..

With each course fresh wine glasses were supplied, and the sommelier lady explained about the wine. There was some winespeak, but after she figured out we knew a little about wine she loosened up and was very fun to talk to. She pretty much knew her subject and she is on her second level of becoming a Master of Wine..

When we thought we could eat no more, the Sorbet appeared and was followed by a special dessert, a small baked Alaska for my birthday which was presented by Chef O’Connell..

We finished up with the chocolate bread pudding. We were about four hours into the dinner, we never felt rushed, nor hurried. As we were leaving Chef was kind enough to let us take various pictures. Those currently reside in FOJTY’s camera and will be displayed at a later date.  If you ask me what was my favorite, the answer would be each dish that was in front of me.  What a display.

And when I whine about service it is because I have experienced places like the Inn at Little Washington. All silver was replaced between each course whether or not it was used. Even when white wine followed white wine, a fresh glass was presented. I think each dish was on a differently shaped plate. Each course was presented in the same way. Three servers approached the table, each with two dishes. They came and stood beside the table, and with eye contact all six dishes were set simultaneously, well, almost; invariably the ladies plates were down before the men’s. At that point, the dish was described in detail. Nothing was cleared until it was obvious everyone was through.. no “are ya still workin’ on that?”. “Guys” was never uttered. Francois was continuously unobtrusively attentive, always watching, doing just a little of this and that, making it right.   You never noticed, except it was just right. Toward the end he sort of joined in the conversation here and there.

As we were leaving, each couple was presented with a small “go box” containing sweets and treats

And to conclude, my own menu

So ended what is one of the most memorable evenings of my ever lengthening life. A time spent with things that are most dear to me:  MFO, my sons and their wives, together as a family. All convened over wonderful food and wine, served with professional skill. I’m not sure what more one could wish for. And, by God we were


Monday, November 7, 2011

Words fail me...

It doesn’t happen very often, but in this case mere words are insufficient to do justice to the weekend we had at the Inn at Little Washington.

One of my dear food friends sent a text to me while we were driving that I should get ready for the best dining experience of my life. I will still keep that distinction for the three star Michelin Maison Lameloise in Chagny, France. The Inn, however runs a close second. You have to do it sometime.

What made this occasion so memorable is not only the food and Inn experience, but the fact that I could share it with MFO and the FOJ families. Somehow this 70th birthday thing has got me to thinking about mortality and so being able to do this while we can all enjoy each other made it very special to us.

Both “kids” arrived safely Friday night, and we loaded up around noon on Saturday and headed out to the Inn, located in Washington, Virginia. We drove through Fredericksberg (a monument to poor urban planning), then through Culpeper, finally reaching the beginnings of the mountains. It was a gorgeous drive as the leaves were beginning to change and the weather was warm, the sky was blue

About the time we got to Sperryville, all the phones went “searching for service” and pretty much killed our navigational capabilities. And you know, somehow that added to the weekend. No cell phones. Once you get over the panic it isn’t so bad. You can actually just talk to people.

Anyway, we finally got to Washington, and at first drove right by the place, with some of their staff sort of staring and waving at us as we went by. After we did a turnabout, we drove into the little driveway in front of the Inn..  Their shops are in the background across the street.....

We thought it bore a resemblance (or vice versa) to the Bartlett Pear Inn in Easton. Anyway we confirmed it was the right place.

The young men opened the car doors for us, with a “you must be Mr. Moody!”, and got the names of both the FOJ’s. At this point the concierge of the day introduced himself, we surrendered the car keys to the porters (bad term, but you get the idea), and he led us into the Inn. Once inside, the lobby is very impressive

This theme is carried throughout the inn and the dining spaces. IF you like this décor you would love it, if not, it might be a bit much for you, but it somehow adds to the elegance of the place. Our host said he would like to tour the Inn with us, but first perhaps a little refreshment (in the "Monkey Room"). The little refreshment turned out to be a lovely glass of silver gray sparkling pear wine in a lovely crystal flute. We then walked around the dining spaces, he showed us where breakfast would be served, what the hours were and asked if there were any questions. He said there was currently a book signing going in their shop across the street, and Mr. O’Connell was over there helping. He knew our dinner reservation was for the early seating at the chef’s table, but said we’d have time to check it out. Then back outside where the nice young men again met us, and walked us all over to our living quarters, in one of the little houses that are around the town.

We would be the only occupants of the building that had the three rooms.

There was a lovely sitting room

In the hall was this beauty, which I thought might be just fine for King Oyster

The exterior of the building belied the interior as the rooms were indeed lovely, FOJTY’s had a nice flat screen (for the upcoming LSU/Alabama game) and amenities (refrigerator, private garden, and a tub he could fit into). In our room there was a chilled bottle of champagne and flowers arranged for by the “kids” with a little silver dish of wonderful spiced nuts, and two crystal champagne glasses. How nice.

So we changed a bit and went over to the book signing in the shops

The little shop(s) had all sorts of Inn things, food/chef/cook books, chef garb, little tiles, and so forth. We went into the room where the signing was taking place, were offered a glass of Chardonnay, and there he was: Patrick O’Connell. The book the lady wrote (“The Next Course”; by Melanie Dunea) included him, so he was signing his page. I had thought perhaps to bring his cookbook which I have, but in the fray of leaving of course I forgot it, so got one of her books and they both signed. Had it signed “to the Bottom Feeder” and gave her my card and she said she’d look at the blog. We’ll see.

Anyway Patrick was very easy to talk to and we chatted some and he said he’d see us in the kitchen for dinner.

That “Dinner” is so special that I want to devote a whole entry to it, so won’t extend this one. After “doing” the gift shop and arriving back at the room with the bags of new acquisitions, we freshened up, got my game face on and got

DF (the Big) D

a lifetime memory

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sayonara Santa Fe...

I like alliteration better than accuracy

But, we really do need to leave Santa Fe and move on, but there is a lot of things still on the plate. Maybe we’ll try and condense (thank goodness you say) because we have to get into the present so i can talk about that idiot in the car behind me today..


Our third Santa Fe Big Deal Meal was at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, better known as Bistro 315 (or 315 Bistro). It is an outpost of French Cuisine in the land of the Southwestern food. I read so many good reviews of it that I added it to our list of Big Deal Meals. Because of the afternoon train ride we reserved for 7:30, and arrived pretty much on time. It is kind of an unassuming building done in Adobe, but once inside it indeed lived up to its Bistro appellation. A bit loud, bustling, several small dining areas, tables set in white cloths (by golly, I don’t remember any white paper squares!!) and crystal. On this evening (Saturday) there was a jazz trio playing and we were seated just around the corner which made a nice sound barrier.

Another Bistro touch was that the specials were on a blackboard that was brought to your table, and its size pretty much commanded a chair of its own. Probably about a foot and a half by two and a half. Our server apparently was otherwise occupied (didn’t come right away) but the manager came over and took our drink orders (glass of wine for MFO and a DMOTRWAT) for the Feeder. The drink pretty much passed as it was made properly, but beside the twist (plus) was that damn maraschino cherry (minus) which was removed without question and the second drink was just fine.

The menu reflected French preparation and ingredients (condense here, no listings). I had hoped to have lamb which was lauded in several of the reviews I found, but it was missing. Mussels which also got raves were on, so I had that, and MFO had a scallop dish. On the specials board was a foie gras appetizer, and readers will know that I am a complete sucker for that particular dish. Now I will confess that the price tag was a hefty $24, but when you’re in for a nickel…. Etc. Well, (condense) that dish was one of the best (I think I can use that word personally) dishes I have ever had, at least within memory. And the server stopped by and said would I like a small glass of Sauternes to go with… Very nice touch, and yes I would. By the time I got home, I of course forgot the preparation, so went on their website and did a “contact us” to send a note asking if the chef could tell me the preparation. To their credit and my astonishment I received a very nice note from the executive chef: “ Bill,the foie gras you had was seared and served over a slice of grilled corn bread and a green tomato jam. I always make a big batch of green tomato jam at the end of tomato season and it will last for a long time. The jam is made from a light caramel of just sugar, onions, mustard seed, fennel green tomatoes, salt and pepper”. Everything just worked. It was great. And since I was in a French restaurant I felt a white Burgundy would be fine and selected a 2008 Joseph Drouhin Chablis, 1er cru, Vaudon. The manager brought the wine and said that it was one of his favorites… While I usually take these comments with a grain of salt, I think he was sincere. He talked about how hard it was to cellar, how he took good care of that one, etc. And, like the Foie Gras appetizer, it was one of the nicest bottles I have had. Just the right balance of fruit and acid, and yes it tasted good with the appetizers, scallops, and the mussels. Notice the Feeder didn’t say “paired”.

Condense: we shared a chocolate pots de crème for dessert. A wonderful meal… and i didn't even talk about the idiot at the next table...

So a wrap up of our Santa Fe Dining

Big Deal Meals: Tie between Terra and Bistro 315 – different categories (formality, service style, cuisine), both great. Third was Restaurant Martin, mostly because I couldn’t get a damn drink. Food was good, sauce ran on plate. Didn’t get to try The Compound, Geronimo, Coyote Café, or Pink Adobe.

Breakfast: One entry, Pasquales. Unique, do it.  Ohori's coffee... very nice shop. Pastry shop by the Plaza, good stuff.

Lunches: Mucho Gusto; Rancho de Chimayo; The Shed; Café at Indian History Museum; Legal Tender (part of train ride). All good, not a clear winner. All except last “Mexican”… all well prepared

So a wonderful trip had to come to an end, we had a glorious time, with the exception that the altitude never left us, and we felt the effects until we descended to Albuquerque. Just something to think about if you’re considering a trip.. and you are of our generation.

In order to get this into your hands, I will not include any photos today… there are some worth seeing from the train ride and a little side trip we made into the country by car. Will use them as PS’s in the near future..


The Feeder doesn’t usually divulge his plans ahead of time, in case they change, or don’t work out, or it turns out lousy, but I will share this one with you. As a (further) celebration of our advancment into the 8th decade of existence, both FOJ’s and their wives are arriving today and tomorrow we are all going over to the Inn at Little Washington for an overnight stay in the Inn, and dinner at the chef’s table. At a cost that monetarily is astounding, but the experience will be……. Priceless.

I think they would like us to


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Many Museums

Everybody is probably ready to leave Santa Fe at this point, but there’s maybe a couple of days yet…including the food wrap up containing several luncheon spots and Big Deal Meal Number 3.

But today we’ll visit some of the museums and attractions (one of which includes lunch). Being sort of a Southwest cultural center (as well as the State Capitol), Santa Fe boasts a number of museums. Among others there is the Georgia O’Keeffe museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and a nice little out of town complex called “Museum Hill” which contains the museums of Indian Arts and Culture, International Folk Art, and the Wheelwright Museum. Downtown along with the O’Keeffe and Museum of Art, there is also the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, and the Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum. So there is no lack of things to look at if you’re so inclined.

We did fairly well. We started out with the O’Keeffe, and I would have to say that while we weren’t disappointed, it was not what we expected. Most everybody is familiar with her work, those big lush flowers, bones and flowers, some abstracts, and so forth. Well, most of those “famous” pictures are displayed someplace other than in the museum in Santa Fe. To be sure, there were a few, but mostly there were “other” works less familiar and no less beautiful, but not what we had hoped for. There was a little docent speech while we were there, and we learned something of the artist. She was quite a gal….

The New Mexico Museum of art had a few more of her works, along with a lot of historical presentations of Pueblo life, Indian rituals and dances, that sort of thing. They also had some more contemporary things. Palace of the Governors is pretty much devoted to archeology of the place and has lots of potsherds, windows in floors to see original foundations and lots of antiquities.

There is something like “museum fatigue” that sets in at some point where it’s “just” another painting, pot, sculpture, etc., and you have to learn it’s time to quit. While that happened at the above museums we didn’t experience it at the

The whole “Museum Hill” complex is a beautiful, quiet spot overlooking the valley.

with very peaceful grounds

The Cultural museum is relatively new, and therefore has more interesting exhibits than cases and cases of arrowheads and dusty blankets. It is separated into little areas of focus, like Ancestors, which tells the story of the earliest inhabitants of the region, then goes on to Cycles where you learn about rites of passage and so on. One area called “survival” has little video clips of people relating how they were put in “Indian” schools after they were more or less evicted by the white man and how they were trained to be “white”. Very interesting. You don’t feel very proud about how the native peoples were treated as “we” moved in. What a rich and diverse culture they had. And, in some respects they still do. There are still clans and tribes that maintain their culture and language.

Museum fatigue didn’t set in, but hunger did, so we took a break and had lunch at the little café on site. They had an outdoor seating area and the weather was cooperative and we took advantage of that while MFO contemplates the menu.

We lubricated the selection process with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a local beer.  She finally settled on the breakfast burrito (eggs, sausage, chiles), and I chose some beef tacos (always mindful of the heat)

They turned out to be very nice. Sometimes museum food is pretty good.. greens were fresh, food was at the appropriate temperature..

Notice the little dish of sauce next to the Tacos? A tiny forkful warned the feeder to avoid the rest of the contents… it’s just me..

Anyway fortified by the food and the view we returned and did the rest of the museum, killing the rest of the day. The grounds have several pieces of statuary

Including this impressive Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer

Scares me
Plus other interesting pieces were scattered about the area.. 

There was a little plaque explaining the symbolism of this (see how the middle flows into the circular part...) following some Indian legend on the creation of the world.  To me, it's just nice...
The theme of the museum is "Here, Now, and Always".   After visiting the museum you can appreciate it.  Very soul satisfying day. Between the altitude and the stumping around the museums, in the evening we stayed home and had lovely cocktails.. so we didn’t have to be