Sunday, February 26, 2012

Go West...

You know it’s not a good day when you wake up on your travel day, and the first thing you see on television is Jim Cantore at O’Hare reporting on the hundreds of flights being canceled, with repercussions all around the country, and your itinerary takes you through O’Hare on the way to San Diego.

We make one big travel day a year, planned months in advance, and on that day, all hell breaks loose in the weather department. High winds and “strong thunderstorms” at our departure point, and the mess in Chicago half way. The only thing going for us was that we were leaving later in the day, and since they were calling the storm a “Saskatchewan Scooter” or something like that we hoped it would move out of the Chicagoland area prior to our arrival. In fact MFO called the airline and (get this) actually spoke to a person who said they really thought that the afternoon would be okay. One of the reasons driving us to accept O’Hare as a waypoint was the fact that we didn’t have to be at some distant airport at o’dark thirty. We also chose Reagan because we could get a “real” airplane from American Airlines. Since we were using moldy frequent flier miles we got first class all the way (yes, living well is STILL the best revenge).

So, around ten we loaded up the rent-a-car, and with some trepidation drove up to Reagan. We had not flown out of there for a few years, so the navigation was a bit rusty. But, we successfully negotiated the “local traffic” side of the Wilson Bridge, found our way up route one, got gas, and somehow by luck eventually got to the return facility. Wrestled the bags on and off the shuttle, did a curbside check in, participated in the security dance, and eventually wound up in the Admiral’s Club, a little travel luxury we have continued to allow ourselves. Being in our nation’s capital, I suppose there is a higher population of “important people” there than maybe at others. At least their mannerisms and demeanor indicates they think they are. The ones who weren’t on their laptops were thumbing the smart phone. One lady had one of those “ear bugs” plugged in and was working her laptop while carrying on a loud conversation with space. I want this, get me that, what are the numbers….. blah, blah.

A check of the various boards still kept telling us that both flights were on time, so our confidence began to build that we might, in fact, see our friends in San Diego that same day. To help pass the time (and your money) the admirals club does offer food and drink. The “wine list” offerings

Given the length of our day, we decided to forgo the temptation, and since we would be up front in the jet it would be supplied for no (additional) cost. Amazingly enough as take off time approached, no delays were announced and we proceeded to the gate. Rain began falling but we boarded and after a long wait to get airborne with advisories from the pilot that it would be “bumpy” on takeoff we finally managed to get airborne. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as predicted and after we got up a bit it was actually fairly nice.

And then the lovely lady began asking the question “may I get you something to drink?” while offering a warm towel.

The airplane was a 737-300 and almost had that new airplane smell. It was quite comfortable, and had plenty of space, and even offered “available” wi-fi connections which of course a lot of the important people took advantage of. It actually was a fairly nice ride over to O’Hare and by the time we landed the snow was pretty well handled.

We rested in the Admirals Club there for a while and when it got to be within a half hour of the (now delayed) boarding time for the SAN flight we went down with the masses to see

And then found out that there was another half hour delay. All in all, I think we boarded about an hour late. This time the jet was an older version, but still had roomy seats in first class. As the plane slowly filled the aisle seats directly in front of us remained empty. And just before the door closed a young couple came aboard each with a toddler in arms. OMG, they settled into those empty seats! Mild piercing eruptions were shushed by mom and dad, but the thought of four hours of the famous “screaming kids” was not a happy prospect. Long story short, the little persons were fairly quiet and napped a lot with only occasional outbursts.

Anyway, on this flight the little info card said “dinner” which by this time was welcome since we had not really eaten all day. Once again the nuts were served, this time with a pleasant scotch on the rocks (care for another, sir?) and life began to look better. Also on this leg, music was available so classical music drowned out the little episodes directly ahead of us, and things were good. The drinks were served in real glass by the way, even MFO's wine.

After a bit of calming, the lady came around and asked about dinner. Choices were cheese ravioli or salmon. We each chose the salmon. I must admit that it was a pretty good meal (although the seat cushion would have tasted good by this time)

The shrimp were pretty good, that salmon had flavor and it was on china and real silverware. A white wine was also offered and that was okay. A nice ride the rest of the way into the San Diego airport, bags came out relatively soon, and our gracious hosts and friends here picked us up at the curb. So a long day, but not a bad day (despite my angst over weather, schedules, gate changes, etc.) brought us to our friends house which has this view.

We spent most of yesterday recovering, and may do likewise today, although we did some birding in the afternoon. We dined in last night with some lovely chicken tortilla soup and a gorgeous Tarte Tatin. She is quite an accomplished cook. We will do well, and whether or not we continue to dine out or in, we will be appropriately


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lite Wednesday...

As time before our departure for San Diego grows less, so does the time for blogging (whew, you say), so just a quick couple of notes for your Wednesday.

Gras of Mardi

Thinking about packing is hard work, always causing a thirst. So, in order to keep healthily hydrated we joined some friends at a local watering hole for replenishments of fluids.

Feeling somewhat more fortified after that, we stopped by St. Andrews Church and visited their annual Fat Tuesday dinner. In addition to the traditional pancakes, they also were serving jambalaya which was advertised as being the recipe used at Saphron Restaurant. Since low country cuisine is their specialty I was kind of keen to try it. So we paid our eight bucks each, asked for carry out, and got one of each (cakes/sausage/applesauce and jambalaya/warm greens/apple dessert)

We brought home the food and enjoyed it. MFO allowed as how the cakes and sausages were good. I have to admit I like my jambalaya a bit more “soupy” (an exacting culinary term), and I don’t believe there were any shrimp in it at least that I found. I was just nicely spiced not hot at all which I appreciated. I will have to go up to the Saphron and try it up there…

More Dinners…

I have often extolled the virtues of “church lady” cooking (which applies to the males as well in this usage. Another source of “local” food around here are the American Legions, and also the various civic clubs. This weekend (while we are dining in San Diego), the 7th District Optimists are holding their annual dinner. On the menu will be Fried Oysters, Spiced Shrimp, Stuffed Ham, Fried Chicken, (and healthy vegetables). I don’t think you could find a more Southern Maryland menu that that!! And you won’t even have to drive “down to the seventh” as it will be held in the Mechanicsville Fire/Social Hall. You need to support these things, to keep local food alive and also your funds go to do good things!

Where’s Jerry?

This “Jerry” thing is getting interesting. I drove down great mills road today and sure enough here’s

And I have heard there is one (I think I already noted this) in Lusby of the “& Son” variety. At least a couple of locals have told me they liked the food at (this) Jerry’s. So we will stay tuned as Jerry’s Bistro evolves.

Where are those suitcases? Have to fill them so we can


travel note:  not sure where or when next edition will appear, on the road always presents technical difficulties.. but we'll surmount...

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Day(s) in the Life

Gosh here it is almost Tuesday! Had a couple of interesting and rewarding things since then…
Friday Fun
  I zipped down to St. Mary’s College to hear a short concert of a string trio with piano accompaniment. Alert and musically inclined readers may know them: Jose Cueto (violin); Jennifer Rende (viola); Suzanne Orban (cello), all from the college. The guest pianist was Simone Sarno, who is visiting from Italy and is involved with the college’s musical activities in Alba. The strings presented a Divertimento by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (kind of an odd name methought). It was lively performance and nice to watch. Mr. Sarno then joined on the second piece, a Klavier Quartet in E flat Major. It’s interesting to watch them pass phrases around and echo each other (venturing into engineer music appreciation again).

During the latter number I kind of thought that the piano didn’t have the punch and crispness that I have become accustomed to when listening to Brian Ganz. This then got me to wondering about the old problem of association. It comes up in wine and has some parallels. Does this bottle of wine taste great because you see the label of Screaming Eagle and of course any wine from them HAS to be good. Does Mr. Sarno not sound as good to me because he is NOT Brian Ganz? They get around it in the wine world by doing the blind tastings occasionally, so maybe we could organize a blind piano playing (well that doesn’t sound exactly right, but you get my drift). Play the piece twice with a curtain concealing the pianist kind of thing. Pre-conceived notions are nasty and tyrannical things.. Anyway it was a pleasant hour.
Saturday Soirees
MFO and I attended a program at our (Lexington Park) library. It was part of the celebration of Black History Month, and was a presentation by “Frederick Douglas” who is interpreted by Walter Jones Jr. Mr. Jones recounts the story of Frederick from the time he was a young slave on the Eastern Shore until he escaped to freedom. He is a talented actor who portrays the story through storytelling and punctuates it with playing guitar and singing (also talented). He is African American as was the majority of the audience, with a lot of school children. The theme of the story was that Frederick gained freedom through learning to read and becoming educated. It was a fascinating performance. If you ever hear of him doing it again, attend.
Sunday Swervings and Swats
My leisurely morning started out with my normal trip to Starbucks, and on the way there (over the treatd roads in anticipation of Snowmageddon) I noticed the fluttermobile wanted to swerve off to the right. I had noticed the tendency the previous day, but put it down to crowns in the road, etc. I didn’t think too much of it until I came out with my Latte and approached the car from the right hand side. Guess what? The right front tire was “squished”, almost flat. Scenarios started flashing through my brain (probably aided by the caffeine) but, as the car seemed drivable, I headed for home. Wait a minute, stupid!! (thank you chemicals) you’re only a quarter of a mile from Mr. Tire!! Why get stranded at home? So I gingerly herded the flutter mobile to their parking lot and was relieved to see they were indeed open on Sunday, in fact within a few minutes. A call to MFO resulted in being picked up in the MOMSTER. So, a couple of hours and twenty five bucks later, the car does seem to track straighter. No reason for the flat was given by Mr. Tire. It’s always something.

(the swat part):
And I hope the sporting contingent had a chance to see the finish of the LA Open (oh, excuse me the Northern Trust Open) at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Phil Mickelson had managed to kick it around for three rounds and stay in the lead and had a couple of strokes going into yesterday’s final round. He was paired with Keegan Bradley, who by the end of the round had me distinctly rooting against him. Talk about Mr. Fuss and Fidget! Address the ball, waggle, back off, go behind the ball, recheck the line, tap the ground with the driver about twenty times, go back to address, whiff a couple of practice swings, settle into stance, backswing to twenty degrees and back to ball, repeat for thirty, forty, and FINALLY strike the shot. By this time I’m screaming: “Just HIT THE DAMN BALL!”. Anyway of course Phil being Phil squandered the lead, allowing young Bill Haas to pass them both and hold a one shot lead in the club house over Phil and Twitchy who were coming up the 18th fairway. Both needed Birdie to tie for a playoff. Phil (amazingly) hit a good drive, but a relatively poor (for him) shot to the green ending up some twenty feet behind the pin in the fringe. Twitchy hit a pretty good shot maybe 16 feet hole high. As Phil got ready to putt, all the announcers (Faldo, Feherty, McCord, Nance) were going on about how he had to make it, and what a low probability putt it was, downhill, breaking, out of the fringe, etc. The last word from McCord was: “But, it’s Phil”. Guess what? Center cup. The place went nuts. And then amazingly enough Bradley rolled his ball in right on top of Phil’s. Three way playoff ended on the second hole when Haas rolled in an eighty footer. Great stuff.

Monday Motoring

So finally today we took the MOMSTER up the road (along with the other thousands of holiday shoppers) to Annapolis and Nordstrom’s to punch up the wardrobe for our upcoming trip to San Diego. I think I have mentioned this before, but I always find the clerks in Nordstrom’s (at least in gentleman’s clothing) to be extremely nice and helpful. Service takes on its intended meaning there. “We’re interested in looking at some dress shirts, probably in ecru”. Answer is not ‘they’re over there”, rather it is “sure come on, let’s go take a look at some”. Do you like these? Or I think there are more over here, let’s go see. Between slacks and shirts (sweaters were a bust, who wears those things?) we must have spent over an hour going here, going there, trying them on, alterations, everything. Of course last minute us waited until today to address the need, and nominally we would like to take them with us on Friday. Okay, no problem, we’ll put a rush on the alterations, and give the address of where you’ll be in California, we’ll ship them and they’ll be there for you to wear. Sigh.
And when they are I can be nicely


Thursday, February 16, 2012


Whew! By the time I shut up this got long. Maybe like a good meal it might be taken in courses, or consumed a bite at a time..

With MFO out of town, one is faced with sustaining the body. Choices consist of cooking for one, hoping a caterer shows up at the door, getting invited over for dinner by caring friends, or going out. With the exception of the caterer, all the other options were realized. Home cooking always takes first place, so friends was number one, and sadly cooking for one took last place which leaves me with “going out”. Over the past few days, I had the chance to visit three places…

Dock of the …. Back Creek

Not too much new to say about The Dry Dock, it is always a pleasant place to be, and the food is reliable (we’ll visit this subject a bit later). I generally stick to the seafood and have not been disappointed within recent memory. The evening I was there I had pan roasted Rockfish over the seemingly ubiquitous “hoppin’ john” rice, and the chef kindly substituted some sugar snap peas for the asparagus normally plated with the dish. I’m sorry, I know it’s a favorite even of serious foodies, I just never developed a taste for it.. The fish was served skin side up so it had a nice crispy top. I normally sit at the bar, so service is not an issue. I try to remain objective and not automatically like everything just because it’s the Dry Dock, but they really haven’t given me any reason to not like it lately.

The Tide is Rising….

I was invited to join some friends for a night out, and by the time we juggled everybody’s schedule we found out that Café Des Artistes was completely booked, which is sort of our go to in Leonardtown for a nice dinner. We’d been to Front Porch enough lately that we didn’t want to return there and so the suggestion was made we try The Tides. It’s easy to fall into ruts, and save for the odd appetizer at the bar I have not had a seated meal there in quite a while. And to be truthful those quite a while ago experiences weren’t enough to beckon me back even though it’s minutes from the digs. So it was with a bit of apprehension that we chose it. I happened to arrive first so went and sat in the bar. And when you’re in the bar, it is only courteous to order a drink, so out of duty I asked for a DMOTRWAT. I will give the bar lady credit, she immediately said “I’m not sure how to make that!” instead of just blindly taking her best shot which usually results in sweet vermouth and a cherry. So I explained what I wanted and she made it.. One more barkeep educated!

Of course two sips in, the rest of the party arrived and we decided to adjourn to the dining space. The host led us in, he carrying dinner menus, special drinks menu, the available Valentine menu sheet, and maybe the wine list. Quite the stack of reading material! We were offered a table in the “private” room, but decided to stay in the main area. Besides that gives the Feeder a chance to observe. Speaking of observing, when I was in the bar, the lady made a Martini using Hendrick’s Gin.. Hmm, I thought I know somebody who is partial to that spirit, and sure enough he and his wife were seated near us.

Our server came and asked about more drinks, and I am pretty sure no speeches were made, and off he went. Of course by the time (more than you might wish) he returned I had finished my drink so he had to make a return trip to the bar. They still do the olive oil in the little dish with balsamic and cracked pepper if you wish. I don’t really like that, always afraid of the drizzle factor on the DFD. I also wish they would cut the bread all the way through instead of making you tear it off, always leaving a hunk at the bottom. So after more conversation we began to consider food. As I said, I haven’t been there for a time, and maybe not under the current managership, but I did like the menu, a nice mixture of seafood, fin, and hoof. Although come to think of it, I don’t recall a vegetarian option. Hmmm…

There is some confusion around ordering, you have to choose a blend of salads or sides or combinations thereof (mine probably not helped by the second DMOTRWAT). We wound up asking our server about various preparations, and so forth. Finally I settled on a cup of crab soup, a Caesar Salad (with Anchovies, please), and the peppercorn filet with scallops (with rice and potatoes). The rest of the table accounted for a “stacked” tuna appetizer, some roasted vegetables, macadamia crusted mahi-mahi, and the spiced grilled salmon.

Since I am as usual running off at the keyboard, I won’t recount each dish. All the food was very well prepared, and had good flavor. My only complaint was that my salad, although laden with anchovies was mostly composed of small bits of heart of romaine, and maybe just a bit overdressed. But the main dishes were quite good. The beef was flavorful, and the scallops done just nicely, only just into opaque. Service was good, with maybe one too many “how is everythings?”, but it was well meaning. I was disappointed in the DFD condition of the place, there was a wide variation, and mercifully the one party in jeans, tee shirts and cap decided after they were seated, that they would be happier in the bar. I think we all were. And finally, upon leaving we called upon the (lovely) restrooms off the bar where we discovered yet another couple of friends (big night for friends). In the course of conversation they confided in me that a visit to the (above mentioned) Dry Dock in early December was disappointing on all fronts. I was sorry to hear that, but I might suggest they give it another shot.

So overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food at The Tides. This opinion was confirmed by “Hendrick’s” and another couple we knew in the dining room. I certainly will return, much sooner now than I would have without this refresher. The Tide is indeed rising.

Wind in the…

Willows. I took advantage of an invitation of sharing a lunch with a long time reader, and we settled on “trying” the Willows. He is also a discerning food person, so we thought a visit would be informative. I had not eaten there since it opened and many readers have asked about it so there were a lot of reasons to go there. I arrived near the agreed upon time of noon, to see only one car in the parking lot, causing me to wonder if the “open” sign in the window was true. There was also an interesting sign in front that kind of brought me up short. It’s a bit confusing to me. Catering to the NASCAR folk I suppose.

Testing the door confirmed they were indeed open, so I went inside. The lonely car must have been staff as my friend had yet to arrive. I was the only person inside the place (besides staff). And boom! I was transported back many, many years to the John Nucci time, although I think the walls were changed from dark paneling to drywall which lightened the place considerably. There is still the bar in the middle of everything and maybe twelve to fifteen tables scattered around. Also absent was any hint of cigarette smoke which I always associated with the place. Décor is sparse, there was some kitchy stuff on the walls along with some prints. I was told from behind the bar to “Sit where ever you like” so chose a four top near the corner. Behind the bar came over and offered me a menu, and asked about a drink. I verified they served (at least) beer and asked what varieties they had. After plowing through the usual suspects from Bud and Coor’s, she came to Yuengling, so I stopped her there. Good enough. It was brought to the table with a chilled mug, and just as I poured my friend appeared. He ordered up one for himself. We enjoyed conversation for a while (we were still the only customers there) and then got down to considering lunch. The menu is a typical tri fold affair with pages slipped in those plastic sleeves. It’s a “one menu does all” approach and it took a bit of hunting to find the list of sandwiches among dinner entrees, salads, soups, etc. I didn’t pay too much attention to those, but the list of sandwiches were about what you would expect. Burgers, crab cake, reuben, steak and cheese, pretty standard stuff. My friend settled on the crab cake after asking behind the bar (now at the table) if it was good. Yes. Have you actually eaten it? Yes. Okay. For some reason I decided I’d do the club sandwich, where upon I was asked if I wanted turkey or ham.

My memory of a club sandwich (possibly colored by the good one a the old Officer’s Club on base) was that it was multi layered, separated by bread, with at least two kinds of meats, usually also bacon, and then lettuce and tomato. So taken somewhat aback by the choice of meat, I said turkey. There also was no option given for choice of bread. Both of our orders were responded to with “are fries okay?”. They were, so not sure what happens if they are not. More conversation and sips, and eventually the dishes arrived. The crab cake was on a Kaiser Roll (plus points) and of fairly good size. Before digging in, he forked up a couple of bites and confirmed it was blue crab and fairly tasty. My sandwich was kind of interesting. It contained only two compartments with three slices of (toasted white), one with the (shaved lunch meat) turkey and a little lettuce and the other with bacon, whitish tomatoes, and more lettuce. The portion of turkey was pretty good. Somehow club sandwiches tend to run large, and this one followed suit. I could only eat two of the four skewered portions. The fries had that faint aroma of oil, but were edible. Somewhere in here another couple showed up, ate, and left before we finished. We were having such nice conversations we decided on another brew to continue. It was an enjoyable respite, and we decided to convene another time, probably in another place.

All in all we were there almost two hours, from noon till one thirty or so, and besides the other couple we were the only customers spanning the normal luncheon time period on a Wednesday afternoon. If I were in the area, I might stop there, but there are more options up the hill in Leonardtown. I suppose their challenge is to draw you away from there. I think they have their hands full.  I am not hopeful of their future, but of course this is one day, one time, at lunch. Maybe dinner is better attended,

Who’s Jerry?

My photo of Jerry’s Bistro and wonderings about who exactly was Jerry, got a reply from one of my trustiest county cultural history readers reminding me there is a “Jerry’s” on Great Mills Road. Maybe he’s moving up town…time will tell...
Okay, last course is complete. And you didn’t even have to


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday's this and thats

Just a quick update since I know you all are on the collective edge of your seats. Well, plans do change and the dinner I was going to add to the list of restaurant reviews disappeared, but will be replaced by a luncheon at a spot people have been asking the feeder about lately. So stay tuned….and patient with your hard working food critic..

Couple of odds and ends..

Since MFO has been gone lately, I have had the opportunity to watch some TV and there are a couple of commercials that have really gotten under my skin. Far and away the worst is the one for the ATT 4G/smartphone. Have you seen it? There’s a couple versions, both involving a couple of idiots sitting either in an office or a tailgating situation side by each, both thumbing their phones and staring at them. A self gratifying smirk is on their faces, and they delight in the fact they might get a text message a whole 17 seconds before somebody else, with slogans like “that is so 17 seconds ago”. One scenario has a fellow office worker (and why aren’t these guys working, one might ask) come by saying “did you hear (somebody) got engaged?” they condescendingly peer up just as (somebody) walks by with flowers saying “thanks for the flowers”. Are you kidding me? Flowers delivered in less than 45 seconds? Impossible. And am I a worthless person because I don’t get a text message a few seconds after somebody else does? What have we come to??
Then the other one that drives me nuts is the series of commercials from AAMCO. Each one has some fool imitating some “noise” complete with insane body gestures for the clean cut smiling AAMCO man, who eventually pleasantly tells him “don’t worry, it was just a flabbergoogle valve” much to the relief of the gullible customer. And then there is also one where the lady marvels in astonishment when she learns that the little yellow outline of an engine on her dashboard is a “check engine light”. Egad. Mute – mute – mute……

While those are sort of “in your face” approaches, the folks from Subaru take a different tack. They’re not selling cars, see, they’re selling warm fuzzy, cuddly little moments with cute dogs or animated butterflies. Or goofballs who lose their sunglasses in caves. Love. Who cares what the car does… flower power lives.

Last Bite

Watched the “Finals” of the Westminster Dog Show last night. Although to them it is the “Best in Show”. I won’t spend much time on the handlers, although God knows I could write paragraphs on them (and have in the past I believe)… who dresses them, anyway? Are there mirrors where they can see themselves? But the focus should be on the four footers. After a couple of class finals, they got down to the best in show activity where winners of each of the various categories compete. There were some pretty classy dogs; I thought the German Shepherd, the Doberman, and the Irish Setter were nice. Real Dogs. But I suppose you know who won, a little six inch tall mop at the end of a rope, Malachy the Pekingese took the cup or whatever it was. You couldn’t even see the face of the little mutt. And I won’t even say anything derogatory about the lady judge who chose her/him/it. In this case it was the dogs who were


MFO returns to the digs today!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Piece of Pi.....

I visited a couple of restaurants over the weekend, but I want to add yet another so will forestall reprots until list is completed..

Due to the “obligations” above, last night was the first opportunity to investigate the new Pizza outlet nearby, Pepperoni’s (Pizza & Subs)

I phoned in my order about ten of seven, and the telephone person was pretty friendly, in my experience a rare occurrence for pizza phone answerers. Anyway the standard twenty minutes was quoted, and I busied myself preparing cocktails (for one). My plan was to sort of have everything in place for Downton Abbey which started at nine. So after a few minutes I hopped into the flutter mobile and headed over to the “new” shopping center. (I gotta find if there is a formal name for it). Noting that the Golden Chicken place and sports clips was now open, I pulled up in front of Pepperoni’s and went inside. There are about eight or nine tables/booths available and only one was occupied. Right inside the door is the counter for order/pick up and one of those cute tall things with rotating pizzas by the slice in them, a requirement for a pizza dive. Mostly the staff seemed to be having conversation among themselves; which, under the circumstances, is probably justified. These days when entering a new establishment, I do a body art/piercing check of staff (not that they don’t have the right). Art was low, but piercings were medium. This, of course is only personal observations (and private opinion).

Anyway, there was only one box under the lights, and surprisingly enough it was for me! I had selected a medium “All Meats” specialty Pizza, composed of the usual list of artery cloggers. I also splurged on $1.25 worth of added black olives, a weakness of mine. So after giving them $16.15, I put the box in the back seat wrapped in my jacket and headed back to the digs.

Maybe because they are new, I was surprised that they have sort of a vanilla box without advertising

I put the box in the wonderful warming drawer (every home kitchen must have one) and proceeded to enjoy cocktails. Finally I was ready and got the pie out of the drawer. It probably could have been refreshed better with a quick trip through the oven on our pizza stone but by this time I was hungry so put it on the cutting board and prepared to partake

What a lot of yakking about a takeout pizza! Anyway, I guess I would have to say (not a great critic here) it probably is as good (or bad) as any around here. As I said, there seems to be an unlimited market for any pizza. Personally, FWIW (I’m a social media guy!) I still really like the fired ones at Ruddy Duck, but that’s too much a hike except for special occasions or circumstance. Throw a dart at the rest. Distance from digs is usually the deciding factor.
Culinary Confusion

Relatively alert readers will remember that I reported a new establishment “Coming Soon” on our corner that advertised the somewhat odd combination of “Chinese Food & Sushi & American Food”. That was a while ago, and I noted that progress seemed to be made as the odd van and truck was outside. Well, I looked today to see

It is left to the Feeder and the Reader(s) to figure out what the heck that is! Would you think a Bistro would feature Chinese Food & Sushi & American Food? No, I would expect French (ha ha) or more likely Italian. And who, exactly, is Jerry? Is Jerry expanding his location from Prince Frederick (and how would he handle the floor show in two places)? Or is it an expansion of the nationally franchised Jerry’s Subs and Pizza’s (not more, please) that occupy a lot of gas stations? Perhaps could it be another place entirely? But then why does the Chinese Food & Sushi & American Food banner hang on a space that says “For Rent”?. Ah, sweet mysteries of life.. Time will tell all..

And to further the confusion what will be the proper


MFO arriving Wednesday...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Aging with Grace...

What started out being a planned blog about Pizza, ended up with a blog about wine.

Last night with MFO still working away in Wisconsin, I decided I was going to try the “new” Pizza place nearby in the “new” shopping center that contains Kohl’s and the sporting good place (and, incidentally, the newly opened golden whatever chicken place). That will have to wait.

I also decided since we’ve had a lovely moon rise lately I would try to get some shots of that, and dragged the tripod downstairs to hold the camera. Just as I was getting ready to do that, I got a call from a friend who sort of needed something to do. So he came over and since he also takes pictures we decided to do the moon together. Besides being a photographer he enjoys the glass of wine and has a great palate I already had a Pinot selected,

So I opened up my cellar and told him to find another wine to try.

At this point I have to admit that as a wine collector, I am of the “not now” school. If I have what I consider an exceptional bottle, I will end up essentially hoarding it, because every occasion is “not now”, and we’ll just wait for a better time. Well, that results in a cellar full of wine that may or may not be “over the hill”, passing their peak while waiting for the “now”. Anyway, my friend is good at goading me to not do that; and convincing me that indeed it IS time for “now”. So when he returned he had chosen:

Stifling a gasp, I shut up. Alert readers will know that Chateau Montelena is a legendary California winery and is the one that stunned the wine world by winning the gold medal against a bevy of French wines in the 1976 Paris Tasting (as recounted in the movie “Bottle Shock”).

We began with the Pinot, which proved to be luscious, probably in its prime. Gorgeous nose, lovely fruit, good structure, great balance. Over a period of time we managed to finish off that, and then (mentally) genuflected and pulled the cork on the Montelena). This wine had lived in St. Louis for a while, then eventually was ferried to Maryland where it endured probably not optimum storage conditions for a while. None the less, it was in great shape. No hint of brick on the edges, lovely color, and the nose left no doubt it was a big boy Cab and still “there”, 23 years later. Amazing. So when the evening was done, the generations were standing shoulder to shoulder..

Oh, see the little yellow square on the Montelena? That’s the price tag. In case you can’t read it, here it is (and there is a period in the middle lest you're confused)

Oh yeah, sometime in there we did go out and shoot the moon, where I had mixed results.  Getting the right balance of the bright moon, reflections in the water, clouds, and lights on Solomon's isn't easy.  Apparently.   It’s going to take me more practice to get some worthy shots of that. Here’s one that was okay..

Anyway, it was a fun, unplanned, unexpected evening.. and, there are more elderly wines in the cellar. So when we get back to the Pizza, we’ll worry about


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday Wanderings..

Just a few idle things to take away part of your Wednesday, some informative and interesting, and then a final almost rant on a couple of things..

Pork Fat Rules!

Jack in the Box has launched a bacon-flavored milk shake as part of its "Marry Bacon" campaign. The meaty-sounding beverage is made with Torani bacon-flavored syrup, making it safe for vegetarians as well as pork lovers, the company says….

Do we still have a JIB around here?

At Your Service…

Some factoids from an interesting article I found about food service entitled “Creating a Great Customer Experience--great service makes up for mediocre food every time. However, great food can never make up for poor service”

too true..
Some quoted stats about the impact of “service”:

“when you consider the reasons businesses lose customers, you realize how important service and hospitality really are,"

Those reasons include:
Death, 1 percent
Customer moves away, 3 percent
Customer is influenced by friends, 5 percent
Customer has been lured away by a competitor, 9 percent
Customer is dissatisfied with your product, 14 percent
Customer was turned away by the "attitude of indifference on the part of a company employee," 68 percent
"Sixty-eight percent of customers leave because of something that can be avoided by going back to the basics. Teach service, encourage it, edify it,".

 If you’re interested the whole article it’s here.

leaving the foodie world (and probably the informative part)..


When motoring about in the Fluttermobile or at home with TV off, I mostly listen to WETA (or sometimes WSCL) to get classical music to calm the psyche and avoid the usual drivel on the radio. Back (way back) when I was in college, there used to be something called “hell week” and it was associated with fraternities’ or sororities hazing young pledges and generally making their lives miserable for a while. Well, WETA has something equaling that, called “pledge week”. It’s when they beg the public to contribute to the station to “keep them on the air”. In fairness to them, I realize the need, but boy it is pure heck to listen to them. Two minutes of music and five minutes of chatter about how important we are, on and on. Sheer torture. I do “subscribe” to the station at a healthy level so don’t feel the need for extra contributions, but it is a bad couple of weeks.

Bowl fallout:

Even though the game is over, you still have to hear about it!! Endless replays, analyses, debates on the “ranking” of Eli in the panoply of quarterbacks, why this, why that, ad nauseum. And not only sports shows, now there are “people/access” type shows going over and over Mrs. Tom Brady’s stupid remarks after the game. I know she was probably worked up over the game, but just shut up, lady. Leave it on the field.

And then I caught a piece of an interview with Mario Manningham. I presume it was right after the game and he was pumped with the victory and rush of winning, and he is relatively a young man. I know he attended University of Michigan and hopefully attended a few classes, but apparently (IMHO) not the one on class. He was in an ill-fitting T-Shirt that probably said super bowl champs, and he had a hat on his head. I am not making this up, it was turned ninety degrees, such that the bill was sticking out the side of his head. On top of that it was those trendy hats that has a bill flat as a pancake. That’s bad enough. But then, I swear during the 3 or 4 minutes he was talking he used the word “man” about 400 times (and I’ll bet “you know” was in there too). For the sums of money these guys get they could at least respect the fans enough to look and speak civilly. Maybe I’m just old, or maybe I’m just old.

He certainly was NOT


Monday, February 6, 2012

A Super Weekend...

Well, for most of it anyway

It began in Leonardtown on Friday night when a group of us met to “do” First Friday.. a communal decision was made to begin with some fortification, and despite lots of people in town, we somehow got our favorite table in the bar at the Front Porch. One thing (drink) led to another along with some snacks and before we knew it most of “first Friday” had shut down. Undaunted, we walked over to Fenwick Street anyway, and the ladies just got under the wire (figuratively) in the Chocolate Shop, and the male side went to the bookstore where the band was preparing to leave. I had hoped to hear them play, but at least I got to talk to my friend who is one half of the band. Most of our conversation was in the fairly empty street.. then we also closed down the North End Gallery, but got a chance to talk to some of the artists and saw the “show”. Nice stuff, recommended. So a great Friday night was a prelude to a great


Which started by meeting a friend for coffee in the Coffee Quarter in San Souci. The “back room” was occupied by a bunch of ladies doing some sort of class, so we sat up front. Good conversation. After that, we journeyed over to Loveville and went into Loveville Leather Store. If you haven’t been there (I admit I never was before Saturday) I would highly recommend a visit. The owner (Elam) is very friendly and great to talk to. Not surprisingly, most of the stuff there is “horse” related, with saddles, bridles and other pieces of equine gear. But there are also belts (for humans), leashes and collars for dogs, and many other things out of the ordinary (at least to me). Everything I saw seemed to be of very high quality. The real reason for this visit aside from the adventure was they are phasing out their bird feeding things with a “two for one” sale. So we got a couple of bags of this and that. Oh, I also saw a large bag of Horse Treats! You never know what is out there.

That occupied the rest of the morning, so rested a bit and then mid afternoon I went over to a “whiskey tasting” at a local gourmet store. While “wine tastings” abound, it is fun to have a chance to try other things and expand your horizons. We must have tasted six or so different spirits, all from the High West Distillery. It’s located in Utah, which I generally think of as mostly “dry” state. Obviously not! Most of their product is from Rye, which I think is kind of an acquired taste. It’s okay, but I am more used to good old sour mash Bourbon. High West does give it a nod, and they also have a spirit that is a combination of Bourbon and Rye. It’s called “BouRye”. Kind of a take on the Marine phrase… They also have something called “the 36th vote” which they call their Barreled Manhattan, made with Rye Whiskey and Sweet Vermouth. Sort of a liqueur I suppose. Anyway it was fun to sample.

With MFO in Wisconsin, I had sort of planned in my mind to finish the day by going over to the Dry Dock for a dinner, having had my fill (so to speak) of my own preparations which were sort of in the “left over” category. Upon arriving home from the tasting, there was a phone message from some neighbors inviting me to accompany them to the Brian Ganz concert that evening. What??!! A quick internet session confirmed that indeed Brian was to play through his complete performance of Chopin compositions that he will be playing on the 11th at Strathmore. What will be upwards of thirty bucks at Strathmore is free in Southern Maryland, so what a great opportunity! But that sort of posed a dilemma with my dinner plans.. I was pondering this decision when it dawned on me that since the concert started at eight, maybe I could have my cake and eat it too (always thinking of food!). I figured if I got to the restaurant early enough, I might be able to make it back for our planned “sevenish” departure for the concert. So risking an “early bird” appearance, I hopped in the fluttermobile and arrived just after they opened at five thirty.

I had a DMOTRWAT (which I now don’t have to order, they know), and a very nice piece of grilled Coho Salmon over “hoppin’ John” rice and some snap peas. As usual everything was nicely prepared and presented. And at six thirty five or so, back over the bridge, and I arrived home just as my friends arrived to pick me up!! Nice to have it both ways…

I have waxed eloquent many times on the talent of Brian Ganz, so won’t spend much time here, but it was a wonderful concert. There were eight pieces, Polonaises, Fantasies, Impromptus (Chopin’s not Brian’s), waltzes, and Mazurkas. The final piece was “Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22”. It was an amazing work and I won’t demean either of us by trying to describe it. Get it on a disc if you can. As far as this engineer’s ear goes, it was a flawless performance, lasting over an hour and a half, and there was not one sheet of music. All from memory. I wonder how many notes there were, I suppose thousands, and they were all at his fingertips – so to speak.

So concluded the first part of a typical “nothing to do in St. Mary’s” weekend, with the small exception of: First Friday, Coffee and Conversation, a trip to the Mennonite Leather/Feed Store, a Whiskey Tasting, a Very Nice Dinner, and a Wonderful Concert, too bad there isn’t much to do around here.

And then yesterday was of course Super Sunday. I’m so glad it’s gone and we can mercifully stop talking about what’s his name,s “high ankle sprain”. How many times did you hear that in the past two weeks? Sheesh. Of course you can’t have Super Bowl without snacks and stuff, and although I didn’t go overboard (for one person? not so much fun).

First course was (enhanced) bacon horseradish dip, (whole) cashews, and smoked almonds

Oh, and eagle eyed readers will note the lack of the “T” in the DMOTR, an unfortunate circumstance… you know how much lemons are these days?

Anyway, that was followed by Second course

With the lovely ’08 Kali Hart Chardonnay, a second label of Talbott Vinyards. It was obtained with the help of FOJTE on one of his trips to California..

The third course consisted of “Bill’s Brats” always a winner. I didn’t get a decent shot of them, but they were tasty as usual.

(virtual image of beautifully cooked brats here)

This was spread out over the first half of the game and into half time. Fortunately I was outside grilling and dealing with the Brats while Madonna was cavorting around the stage. Before a quick note about the game itself, I can’t help but comment on the pre-game singing of America, and the Anthem. Again. What is it with these people? Why does everything have to be “country” these days? Does it have to be “Mautin’s Maagisti” and “Freuuuted Plaaaaan”, or the “Rockits’ Read Glaarr”. Just sing the darn songs without a drawl..

As to the game itself, I suppose it lived up to the hype, could have gone either way.. I know it can’t finish in a tie, somebody has to have more points on the board, but I certainly wouldn’t call the Pats “losers”.  was a good game to watch.  None of the commercials knocked me out of my chair, although i did like the Geico one with the teen age girls...

and i was

DFSB (i.e., comfy)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Power to the People!! or not...

You know it’s not a good day when one of your streets looks like this:

And there are utility workers standing around conferring

And one of the close by intersections is crammed with more trucks

And, in fact there was trouble. On the way to the digs, there is a smallish hill at the bottom of which the road bears left. Most of the dwellers around here tend to “cut” it if there is no oncoming traffic. If there is, and you must stay in your lane (or do it anyway because it is the right thing to do) you need to be going fairly slowly. If, at the top of the hill, you closed your eyes (not recommended) you would go down the hill and drive straight into a power pole. I’ve always wondered about the placement of that pole, but they didn’t ask me. Well, yesterday for whatever reason, a car did essentially that. Was not there, but heard the SUV ended up on its roof, and the pole was sheared off. Don’t think anybody was injured, but about five minutes before MFO left for Wisconsin our power went off. That was about 8:30 or so. The road was closed at that intersection most all day, with power finally being restored about 3:30 in the afternoon. Fortunately, the weather was such that it was only an inconvenience. I have never seen so many trucks and equipment in one place.

In driving in and out, I chatted a bit with the person manning the pylons directing you onto another street. He told me that on top of everything else, when they bored the hole for the new pole, they bored straight through a water main, much to their surprise.

Funny thing about power outages, I can’t tell you how many times I flipped a switch yesterday. Anyway, things are fine today and we have a brand new pole standing proud

.........just waiting for the next time…

You’re On the Air….

This was going to be the headline today until the power incident pushed it off the front page. On Wednesday, a friend alerted me to a talk show on WAMU that was to be about food photography. Intriguing thought, photography on the radio. Our FM radio couldn’t do well with the airwaves, so I resorted to the “listen live” option. One of the talk show hosts there is a Kojo Nnamdi (another is the more renown Diane Rehm). His show that day was called: “Say Cheese” and featured phood photographer Rachel Tepper, and a food stylist Lisa Cherkasky. I suppose some find Mr. Nnamdi entertaining but I thought he was a bit unctuous. Anyway, they did talk about photographing food, some of the “tricks” used by the stylist, and the ethics of shooting food in restaurants. Apparently some restaurants are asking people not to (“it’s just food for God’s sake!), while others encourage it “take all you want and publish everywhere”. Two edged sword there, as bad pictures don’t do much for publicity. Ms. Tepper says she lugs along her big Canon and will take up to 20 shots of a dish. Not often, but she does do it. I don’t think I learned much, it was interesting but kind of shallow. I did find out she uses a macro lens.

But what really drove me nuts was the use of another of my pet peeve words (a la “yummy”, “you guys”, etc.) as they talked about restaurants and chefs. They repeatedly referred to them as “restauraNters”. Arrrrgh! By now the readers who have stuck around the Feeder long enough know the word is “restaurateur”; there is no N in the word. It is unfortunately used in its bastardized form enough that it is becoming common. But, it is my mission to stamp it out and use the correct form. Finally, I had enough! Although I am accused of “hiding behind my keyboard”, I actually sprang into action and dialed the “800” number. It was almost at the end of the show, but the screener answered and asked if I wanted to be on the air. Yes, I said, I have a question and a comment. What is it? And I told him I wanted to ask about the angles the lady used most for food, and then said I wished to point out the correct form of the word. Okay, he said, I’m not sure I can get you on, but we’ll see. While "on hold" you hear the show over the phone. To my amazement there was a click and Mr. Nnamdi said let’s hear from “Bill from California, Maryland”. With a non-quavering voice I said about the question and the comment, and then asked about angles she uses for food photography. She said she pretty much likes three quarters (there were some of her shots on the web), but also does vertical, kind of depends on the food. Good question! What’s your comment? I just wanted to point out there is no N in restaurateur. Oh yeah, I think that’s right. Thanks, Bill!

So I struck a blow for us!!!!  FIght the good fight!


Last view yesterday of MFO and her MOMSTER  headed for Wisconsin

SITREPS from the road are that things are going well, although she did report that our usual RON spot in Richmond, Indiana which is about 45 miles from Indianapolis, charged 50 more bucks for the room. Wonder why that was??

First Friday tonight in Leonardtown, if you go


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wings and things...

There are a few variations, but generally it is believed that Teressa Bellissimo, an owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo was faced with fixing something for hungry late arriving parties, and only finding some chicken wings in the pantry, deep fried and sauced them, and thus the ubiquitous “Chicken Wings” were born. They were probably aided in popularity and attention by the Buffalo Bills string of Super Bowl appearances. Anyway, they are now part of our (snack) culture, a must in sports bars, and even giving rise to chain restaurants (the premier of which inserted “wild” in the middle). There are now festivals and competitions, and I believe that Bobby Flay has done a “throw down” with somebody, with the result that they have achieved somewhat a cult status in our society. Recipes abound, arguments about sauces and so forth.  I suppose restaurants love them, since instead of being headed for the stockpot or trash, they are now a menu selection. I would rather imagine there’s a pretty good margin there.

But that’s not why were discussing them. I was listening to the radio the other night and there came on the air a commercial from the McIlhenny folks which announced their new Sauce. It was Buffalo Sauce. Somewhere in there they mentioned that it had “that Buffalo flavor”.... Whoa! What, exactly, does that mean? It tastes like Bison? I wasn’t aware that there was a “Buffalo” flavor. And then I was in a local supermarket the other day, and found myself in the dairy aisle and was idly looking at the chip dips (an admitted weakness of mine). And, alongside the Ranch and French onion, was a tub of “Buffalo Dip”. I have no idea what that would be like.
I suppose it means that like more and more food items especially associated with football and bowls (chili, gumbo, nachos, dips, salsas, etc.) it means that it would take the enamel off your toilet. I won’t go into the rant (you’ve heard it before) on why something like that is perceived good if it is so hot/spicy it will blowyour head off and sear your taste buds to the point of useless. The quality is synonymous with its Scoville rating. Why not just set out a bowl of capsaicin and be done with it..

And since we’re talking somewhat about dips and sauces, here’s just a little sidelight. MFO was in the store the other day and was trying to find our sort of favorite dip: Bacon Horseradish (which I usually punch up a bit for use). Anyway there was none on the shelf but she spied a tub of "Guacamole Dip" and grabbed that. So when we settled down to cocktails we opened it (after noting the word: style (in one point transparent font) between the words "Guacamole" and "Dip". Our first surprise was that peeling off the lid revealed a substance which bore a close resemblance to pond scum. About the same color, and the consistency was slick and greasy. None the less, we scooped out some got the chips and sat down. Our first taste had us looking at each other with a mouthful. It was awful. I can’t describe it well enough but it didn’t seem to bear any resemblance to its namesake. Almost medicinal.  It went straight from the serving bowl to the trash, followed by the rest of the stuff. Next trip we got some “real” Guac from the produce aisle where it resides in those little pouches next to the bottled salad dressings. And don’t jump me for using word “real” I know it’s processed and everything, but it does have a fairly nice flavor reminiscent of Avocado.

More monikers:

And further, since we’re throwing around names of foods, here’s another. MFO brought home a little tub of those small (maybe golf ball size) chocolate covered donuts. Do you know what they are called? “Gems”. I have seen the term used on those little vending machine packages of lined up powdered donuts also. Wonder where that term came from? I am not going to go to Google to solve that riddle.

Road Warrioress

Tomorrow morning MFO will saddle up the MOMSTER and point it back to Wisconsin. Papers to sign, lawyers to see, stuff to document, inventories to create, and effects to dispose of. Her Brother (MFOB) is arriving from Arizona to help with the process, so with all the siblings in one place, I (think realistically) figured I would be more of a distraction than help and so am staying home….. alone.

I suppose neither of us will have much of a reason to


Footnote: I swear that I am not making this up.. After doing the little thingie about hoisting the Christmas tree in the garage, something kept bugging me. I always second guess myself and it finally dawned on me that the darn thing resembled a Narwahl. Damn, I thought, I should have said that!! (“rare brown nosed river Narwahl” or something). So I was pleased and gratified that an alert reader had the same thought and sent it along as a comment!! What a great readership you are!!