Friday, February 28, 2014


This week we lost a great friend to museums and historic preservation when Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan passed.  There will be many formal tributes to Dr. Sullivan, but to most of us here in Southern Maryland he was just…. Marty.  His long list of accomplishments will be told by others, but he will be remembered here as somebody who left a prestigious job in Arizona to become the Executive Director of Historic St. Mary’s City.  It was under his guidance that the “city” blossomed, and he worked with St. Mary’s College to establish their Museum Studies curriculum.  He brought an infectious enthusiasm to everything he did, and you couldn't help but share his passion for history.  He left Historic St. Mary’s to become the Director of the National Portrait Gallery in DC. 

During the time he was there, MFO successfully “won” a private small group tour of the Gallery, to be led by Marty.  Great, I thought… tromp around an old building looking at dusty pictures of dead Presidents.  Well, the truth was that that “tour” will stand out in my memory for a long time.  Marty hosted us in his office (complete with wine, mind you), told us about the Gallery and then led us on a fascinating walk through history and American culture.  He had an astonishing knowledge of all (and there are plenty!) the paintings, told stories about them, pointed out this and that, why this person was important, on and on.  He didn’t lecture us, he just talked about them matter of factly.  That was so typical of Marty, unassuming,  just like talking to your neighbor across the fence. 

So now Dr. Martin Edward Sullivan has passed into that history he cared so much about, but he will always remain in our memory as…… Marty..  Thanks for stopping by

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


While basking between this morning’s “dusting” and Sunday night’s “maybe” storm (see “weather” below) I had a nice interlude this afternoon.  Not much else going on, so this is kind of light.

I was finally able to match holes in schedules with a friend and we decided we’d go to lunch.  Since he lives “down” in Southern Maryland we decided we would try the St. Inigoes General Store, a place that people have informed the feeder about.  It has been on the “gotta go there” list for a while so this seemed like a good time to try it.  People seem to like it.
So we joined up in the parking lot, and went inside.  Indeed it is a “general store”, with shelves containing various items you would expect to find in a general store, cleaning products, various dry foods, that kind of thing..  There were a number of people standing around the counter, and nearby a white board presented sandwich specials, like an Oyster Po’ Boy for $10.95.  We looked around for the dining area, and guess what, we were in it!  As near as we could figure out, there is no sit down service available, but we didn’t ask.  So, we decided to vacate to another venue.  Problem: where are you going to go in the lower county?  Answer: Courtney’s!
Alert readers will know that Courtney’s is the king of my “Just Right” list now that St. James Pub has shuttered (and one might reasonably argue Courtney’s was always the king).  Due to the failure of Plan A, it was a little later than peak lunch time, and there were only two other groups seated.  One was a collection of (what we assumed were) Volunteer Rescue workers, complete with those jackets that have acronyms on the back.  Every once in a while, static squawking noises emanated from devices affixed to them..They seemed all to be in the veteran category, and were having a good time relaxing (you always have time to relax at Courtney’s).  Eventually Tom Courtney showed up at our table with the perennial cap affixed to his head, pad and menus in hand.  He stood with pencil poised and menus undelivered, but we kind of knew what we wanted, a bacon cheeseburger and an oyster basket, beer and coke.  He took down the order and left.  I thought he looked a lot more fit than the last time I saw him.  Five or so minutes later the (plastic) glass of ice cubes and plastic coke bottle arrived along with the Yuengling and frosted mug.
During the ensuing fifteen or twenty minutes we had plenty of time to catch up, enjoy the (now) sunny day and the water view, all the stuff on the walls, and general ambience.  Very pleasant.  At one point the food for the eight VRS folk arrived, complete with the ritual of Tom calling out the dish in hand, and the diner raising his or her hand to bid on it.  Normally I give crap for this kind of service, but in a place like this it is perfectly acceptable and even expected.  As it should be.
Our food eventually showed up, the ritual distribution placed in front of me the waxed paper lined red plastic basket with six plump fried oysters, hot crispy fries with those little bumps on them, and across the table the hamburger topped with obviously just fried real bacon, not that flat stuff you normally get.  And it was served on those kind of special rolls they always have.  My request for a second beer fell on deaf ears, but what the hell.  Why not?
While we were eating Tom’s wife, the chef Emily(?) came out of the kitchen with six cupcakes (still in their plastic six pack package), each one with a lit candle in it, and we all sang happy birthday to one of the VRS ladies.   How neat is that?  What an enjoyable afternoon.

On the other side of the peninsula and across the Patuxent, I see the “new” Lighthouse is opening for business (yes, you have to find this stuff out on Facebook) at least for lunch and happy hour. Prices are astonishingly low, but I suppose you gotta do that to “get them to come”.  I hope they do.  A picture looks like they have a very nice bar.  Since it is run by the Clarke’s Landing folk, they should have a leg up on the business.

Which leads me to think there are now quite a few opportunities for “fine dining” (a hazardous designation, I know) over there on the island.  The standby Dry Dock and remarkably good Bistro at Blue Heron Bistro Bed and Breakfast Bistro (I never remember the proper combination) are now joined by the “upstairs” at the Striped Rock and (presumably) the Lighthouse (caveat that the Feeder has not visited either place).    And while the CD Café is pretty much reliable and serves very good food, I don’t think I would classify them in the “fine” category.  However, I would put their Back Door Lounge right up there for a place for sips and small bites.. Some might mention Giovanni’s but I don’t.

Speaking of dining, some thirty one restaurants in Calvert County are participating in their Restaurant Week, which runs through this Sunday.  As I read it, there isn’t the hokey meal for $20.14 that is fairly common, just special menus (?) and prices.  Check it out if you wish.

An odious subject these days indeed.  Since I’ve mentioned Facebook a few times, I’ll keep going.  There is now a proliferation of “weather” pages, all trying to provide up to the minute predictions and conditions.  While I suppose they are all okay, if you want to follow one, I would recommend following: “Justin Berk, Meterologist”.  He is a retired professional having worked television for years.  He has pretty much nailed amounts, timing, and severity over the past few storms.  

Meanwhile we gotta go get


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pucks and Oysters...

Ye olde editor’s note:  this was penned late in the afternoon of Sunday (the 23rd) so depending on when you see this, there is kind of “dated” material here and there

Well the winter games of the XXII Olympiad are over.. .. well, kind of over.  In reality, the closing ceremonies have concluded and the torch (has literally) passed to Korea for 2018.  However, intrepid NBC continues to pretend the nine hour time difference doesn’t exist and won’t let us see the closing ceremonies until this evening. So before getting to some food content, I’ll muse a little on the games just concluded.

I have never been competitive at sports (or little else for that matter) but the former athletes and competitors used as resource people for commenting on the events seem to stress that mostly who you are competing against is yourself.  They measure success by their own standards, being satisfied if they did the best they could, not what’s hanging on their necks at the end.  And speaking of measuring success, have you noticed the distinct lack of showing the “medal count” now that USA didn’t “win” the Olympics.

Slap shots

Having coached the sport for many years, I had special interest in the Hockey games and pretty much enjoyed the “big ice”, wide open, version played in the Olympics as opposed to the NHL version we see here.  Passing, skating, and play making are important, and I personally did not see or hear of any fights.  So much more entertaining.  A closer version is played here in the college games where you see 100% effort every shift and only minor pushing and shoving (it IS a contact sport). 

I also noted that it was thirty four years ago yesterday that the “Miracle on Ice” occurred in Lake Placid.  That team was composed of amateur players, and the defeat of the Russians in the semi finals has been called one of the top sports moments of the 20th century.  Like other apocryphal moments in history I still remember exactly where I was.  I was in the Dellwood ice rink in Florrisant, MO (suburb of St. Louis), in a little locker room with a bunch of little kids fresh from practice. It was a great experience.  Bringing things back to the present, I think one reason that this year’s USA team was excused was exactly the same as recognized by MFO in those old days in St. Louis  hockey rinks whose stentorian “Too much Dancin’!!” could be heard from the stands when that last extraneous pass or an attempt at a cute stick handle move resulted in a turnover. Sound familiar?  The companion MFO message was “Shooooot the puck!”.  That particular piece of advice was echoed in these Olympics by none other than Eddie (the Eagle) who routinely commented that: “It’s never a bad play to put the puck on the net”.   Great sport..  see you in four years…. Hopefully !!


Funny how things transpire..  Sometimes I never know where I’m going when I start to hammer the keyboard, and the words that flow take me someplace I had no idea of when I started.  Earlier this weekend I was working on my piece for the SMC tourism website and wanted to talk about something to cook in this dark winter we’re suffering.  Naturally, I thought of Oysters, and browsed my collection of cookbooks.  I ran across one from the past days here at Pax River

The cover image of a still complete Cedar Point Light House and the words NATC kind of give its age away.  I THINK it was published during the flight test program for the “original” F/A-18 Hornet, as part of a fund raiser for something as these types of “comb bound” volumes generally are.  I remembered a particular recipe that I used to make that was always appreciated even by those who normally don’t eat oysters, in the form of Scalloped Oysters.  Easy to make not much fuss and is really good.

Alert local food people will note the name of the contributor in the upper right.  In the day, Bill Taylor was known as the “Dinner Designer”, and catered elaborate dinner parties around the county.  His invitations were always a work of art, hand written in beautiful script (I still have a couple someplace).  In later years (‘90’s), his house was a museum of show costumes, playbills, and memorabilia devoted to musicals and shows.  As age overtook him, he became an irascible character, one of those people who had different persona between public and private.  He is no longer with us, no doubt planning dinners….somewhere.  But he was part of the fabric of Southern Maryland Food…  and by golly he was ALWAYS


Reminder:  Downton Abbey season ends tonight… DVR!!… remember last year’s surprise ending!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A day in the life

Well, maybe, just maybe, we’ve seen the last of precipitation that lingers on the ground.. and once again I don’t have very much intelligent to say about food.. 

Less than intelligent, but interesting
There was an interesting article from one of my list serves on “How to detect a bad bottle of wine”.  These come along every so often and they pretty much tell the same story.  Sommeliers commonly report they get about one “bad” bottle a night.  Of course reputable ones will evaluate the wine before bringing it to the table.  The big problem is that us consumers are reluctant to claim the wine is “bad”, assuming they are inexperienced and hesitate to question a wine in a restaurant.  Instead, they’ll drink it and decide that they will never buy “that bad tasting wine again”.  “Corked” is the kind of catchall term that is used to describe flaws that put the wine “off”.   The effect can be anywhere from mild to overpowering (wet dog) further complicating matters.  Once you have experienced a corked bottle you will never doubt your nose again.  I was most grateful to finally run across a “bad” bottle which was confirmed and replaced at the point of sale.  Anyway, it’s something to keep in mind, and if you think it isn’t right, ask the server (hazardous – “Tastes fine to me!”) or the Sommelier.  Take it back to the store and ask politely.  Most reputable wine stores and restaurants don’t want you leaving without being satisfied..

Sorry, didn’t mean to get off on a bunny trail, because I had a delightful afternoon today and need to talk about it.  After coffee and conversation with a friend, I went down to St. Mary’s College for another Brian Ganz piano talk.  I hate to keep writing about him, but darn it I just can’t help myself; his talent and personality just can’t be ignored.  The program today was all Chopin, part of his ten year long journey to perform every one of Frederic’s compositions.  He called it a “Chopin Buffet” because it presented a smorgasbord of different “styles” (sorry my good classical music friend), from Mazurkas, to Waltzes, Etudes, Preludes, a Scherzo, and a Ballade.  The Ballade was No. 4 in F minor, Op. 12.  Some consider this to be Chopin’s finest composition, if not the supreme piece of classical music ever written.  Brian is of this opinion.  I had heard it before but you never get tired of hearing it (sort of like the Dead’s “truckin’”).  It is beautiful.

There wasn’t much talking this time due to the number of pieces, but when Brian finished the program, he said he had received an email today requesting he play Chopin’s Funeral (something) or Fantasy Impromptu.  So here’s this world class artist asking if so and so is in the audience.  Yes, he was.  Okay, says Brian, if people are willing to stick around I’ll play the Fantasy for you, otherwise anybody who has to leave may.  About three people left (assumed they were students making a class).  Brian briefly disappeared back stage briefly, came back with a music book, and asked if anybody wanted to turn pages for him. from the audience:  “You don’t have it memorized?” (all eleven pieces previously were) … “well, not quite”  So some gentleman from the audience went up on stage, and said “nod your head when you want me to turn the page”.  Well, Brian said, I tend to nod my head a lot when I play (true statement), so I’ll go side to side when I want the page turned.
So with amateur page guy standing next to him (refused a chair) Brian played the beautiful Fantasy Impromptu… You would recognize it if you heard it.  Page guy had his hand on the page about a minute (my guess) before it needed to turn..
What a lovely experience.  We are so lucky to have him and live in this place..

In just a quick turn before closing, I hope you had a chance to see the USA/Russia Olympic hockey game Saturday.   What drama. And the (then) unknown kid from the Blues will go down in the annals of Olympic history along with the miracle on ice.  A lot of the (middle of the night) know it all, sports talk radio guys extolled how good this was for Hockey, on and on.  Well STRG guys, it’s a different game.  Larger ice surface, rules of overtime are different, and (thank God) they seem to concentrate on playing hockey instead of pandering to the blood thirsty American fans who only want to see fights.  Refreshing.  With no commercials, the game takes much less time to play.

And amazingly, I found myself fascinated by the Ice Dancing competition..  Talk about athletes.. wow. And the good ones are REALLY good. Flowing effortless motion in tight quarters, concentration, complicated maneuvers (and I learned the word “Twizzles”), including tosses, and so forth.  Great stuff.

Okay time for dinner and have to go get

Friday, February 14, 2014

After the Storm

hope you did okay      

I woke up this morning with an uncommon (for me) emotion , one I don’t experience too often, that of “enthusiasm”.  The sun was bright, the sky was blue, nothing was falling or accumulating, the little Ruddy Ducks were peacefully bobbing in the river, and it was pretty.

Everybody has their own way of coping with things, but unfortunately I am wired such that when faced with the prospect of an impending meteorological event (hurricane, tornadoes, major winter storms, etc.) I respond by doing preparations as if we would be without power, food, communication, transportation, medical care, and such for weeks.  I know others have a more laissez faire, comme ci comme ça approach, and I admire them for that.  I just can’t do it.  MFO sort of is that category so my behavior only confirms her opinion that I am an idiot (at least in this regard).  And, the preponderance of the time she and they are correct.  You get through it.  But I have this kind of belief that if you DON”T do this stuff, you will be punished and get hammered (another coping approach I sometime employ),

So, I spend a couple of days doing things like:
Start the generator, place it and extension cords in the “ready” location.
Fill the cars and all gas cans with gas.
Check propane levels in the big tanks.
Buy (even) more batteries for flashlights, radios, lanterns, and the like.
Stage the auxiliary lighting in an accessible place.
Make sure we have plenty of non-refrigerated foods such as canned soups and pastas.
Consult numerous radar and weather sites almost hourly.
And yes, even though we have “city” water, make sure we have some bottles.
(Speaking of bottles), check the liquor cabinet (in case the alternate coping approach is needed)

Well, there’s more but you get the idea. So far this technique has worked.  The storm that crippled the south, DC, and New England for the past couple of days only kind of gave us minor troubles down here in Southern Maryland. Despite a fitful night of sleep checking the ceiling fans to make sure we still had power (kind of the canary approach – they go at the slightest fluctuation) we only had the chimney cap wind up in the front yard from a gust of wind.  While the storm rages, I just kind of go into a shell, running over stuff in my mind.

So maybe you can see why I awoke this morning not having to worry about that stuff. and as usual feelings somewhat sheepish, but like the Bud Light commercials: “It’s only stupid if it doesn't work”.  it does for me...  I suppose that this kind of thing is what ultimately drives you into retirement communities. Sigh..

And just a curmudgeon note to all those (well meaning) Facebook posters wishing for snow, I hope you've had enough for this year.  I always wonder if they have kids and jobs when they wish for “a real snow storm”.  Just me..

Apparently “subs” are another of those food products you can never have enough of.  Like Pizza and Chinese/Asian/Mexican food, they just keep coming.  Going up Route 235 the other day I noticed another of St. Mary’s County most used sign: “coming soon”.  It was next to the carpet place by the main branch of the Credit Union.  They were “Now Hiring” for a new Firehouse Subs outlet.  Apparently one of the 730 locations in 39 states and counting..  Not sure why I would buy a sandwich from a fireman, don’t quite get the connection, although there used to be that myth about firemen make good cooks because that’s all they have to do with no fires. A quick look at their menu doesn't reveal anything special.   Anyway, within a mile or so there is now about seven places where you can buy pretty much the same product (with the exception of Blue Wind which is a step above).  I don’t know where the end is.  Maybe there isn't one.

Okay, gotta go enjoy the day..  take 'em where you can get 'em.  Have to put all that stuff back.. oh well

Happy Valentine’s Day! And whatever you do for celebration


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This and That

When there isn't too much going on in the food world, I sort of let life happen and that pretty much results in a “this and that” type entry.. so here goes:

Now that the slicing and dicing of the super bowl has waned and college basketball is winding down the regular season, (and Pebble Beach is over) one of the things that fills the gap is the Olympics.  NBC’s main station is given over to the antics of Today’s Matt Lauer who feels the whole event is being held just for his benefit, and they continue to play the game of pretending there are no time zones.  “Be sure to watch tonight to see if Shaun White can win the Half Pipe!”  well, excuse me, the event was over hours before you will broadcast it..  And I’ll close the small rant portion here with just a comment that if I had a dollar for every time one of his bevy of “reporters” used the phrase: “What was going through your mind when….”  Boy I hate that.
But the good news is that there are other affiliated channels that DO carry events live.   Hockey, skiing, speed and figure skating, and other contests are available.  One of the things I really enjoy is the coverage of Curling.  It’s a great sport, kind of shuffleboard on ice with special lingo like “house”, “rock”, “has the hammer” and so on.  Watching those sweepers with brooms keeping up with the rock, all the while being yelled at alternatively to “Stop!!”.. followed closely by “Hard! Hard!” and so on is just great.   I guess it does do something because they seem to control the arc of the stone.  And just the scrubber guys scooting along with the thing without falling down is a feat in itself.  Kind of low key fierceness..

And while you hear about “the spirit of competition”,  “fellow competitors”, and the “Olympic Spirit”, we have to Americanize everything.  That damn “B” word just won’t go away.  Watching coverage and all of a sudden there is a “scoreboard” thrown at you with medal counts, whose in “first place”, who’s “winning”, projecting gold medals… good grief.  Can’t we just enjoy the events and admire the talent without having to figure out who is “first” as judged by the number of trinkets on their necks?  Sigh… I must admit the athletes seem to have the right attitude, more interested in doing their best and not worrying so much about the results.   “what was going through your mind when you knew you couldn't get that Gold Medal?”  Strangling you, my dear!…  Stay away from the network outlet and enjoy the outlier channels..

Another great event we enjoy this time of year is the AKC Westminster Dog Show.  It started last night (Monday) and continues tonight, culminating in Best of Show award.  We are non-owning dog lovers and like watching the competition.  I suppose I’ll get comments but it seems the dogs are just having fun, not so much caring about the competition swirling about them.  Actually, what they DO seem to care about is “treats”.  That’s what drives them, their eyes ever hopeful on their handler who manipulates the dogs by holding the treats to keep their stare in a particular direction.  And, if you watch closely you can see that the handlers keep said precious treats in their…pockets?  no; the little pouch?  nope; in their MOUTH!…  and the little pooch seems to know that because that’s where they watch..  keeps the head up you know.. And congrats to the (Cardigan Welsh) Corgi for taking best of breed in the Herding group.  We have a friend who has a Corgi (or vice versa) so are somewhat familiar with the type.  As the announcer who talked about the breed,said "his intelligence will quickly have his owner trained."   By the way, he (announcer) gets off some great lines.  Worth a watch!  And see, I didn’t even talk about the handlers who are a show of their own.. (with a mouthful of treats).

Every winter we get our own animal show in our back yard.  For some reason (clam beds we have been told) the winter waterfowl like to sit out behind the house.  Being a birder I always enjoy seeing who shows up.  This year was a banner year.   Nothing rare, but most of the usual boarders showed up:  Goldeneyes, Longtails, Cormorants, Scaups, Buffleheads, Tundra Swans, and even a couple of Mergansers, and a few Canvasbacks.   But the real plus this year was the numbers there were, especially of Ruddy Ducks.  The most we have ever seen; hundreds..  here’s but a small portion, there are usually two or three raftss like these around (too many for one picture)

We’ll miss them when they leave.

Foodies (National)
Tonight the President is host to the French President François Hollande for a State Dinner.  (side note, he’s attending alone tonight).  I wondered about the menu, scratched around a little, found it, and after a little reflection I think it is appropriate.  At first I thought maybe they would serve “French” food, but of course that is dumb.  We should showcase our National Cuisine (which we don’t have) so there are Caviar from Illinois (?); quail eggs from Pennsylvania; twelve (!!) varieties of potatoes from New York, Idaho (whew), and California.  The salad comes from the White House garden.  And of course what else do you eat in America for dinner?  Steak of course, sourced from a “a family owned farm” in Colorado, dry aged and served with blue cheese crisps from Jasper Farm in Vermont.  Dessert will be a chocolate malted cake that combines bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii and tangerines from Florida and will be served with vanilla ice cream from Pennsylvania. Additionally, the menu boasts fudge made from Vermont maple syrup, lavender shortbread cookies and cotton candy dusted with orange zest.
Okay, stop right there.  Unless it was omitted from the menu I saw, there was NO cheese course!  What the hell?  We have cheeses that rival good French Cheeses… a Frenchman comes to dinner and you don’t serve him cheese??  International incident!

And what, you might well ask are the wines?  Well, once again when in America, you serve American wines.  BUT… there is a bit of a nod to their guest… White wine:  Morlet "La Proportion Dorée" 2011 from Napa Valley.  Winemaker Luc Morlet grew up in France;  First Red: Chester-Kidder Red Blend 2009 — Columbia Valley, Wash; Their wine maker Gilles Nicault also grew up in France worked in Côtes du Rhone;  Sparkling: Thibaut-Jannison "Blanc de Chardonnay" from nearby Monticello, Virginia. Frenchmen Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson, are from from the Champagne-Ardenne region.  Latter choice is probably more historically driven, as we know Thomas Jefferson was a lover of French wine and imported massive amounts of it.. So although there are American wines, the French influence is not far behind..
Excuse me Mr. President? No Cheese course???? 
C’mon Man! 

Of course there is NO doubt they will all be


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Big City and a Black Meal..etc..

The week has vanished…

as you remember, Tuesday we went up to Bethesda (and the NIH) so MFO could help with a research project on Essential Tremor, a genetic condition she inherited from her family.  Our trip up the road was uneventful, no traffic issues on the beltway and we even got to the hotel (Doubletree) on Wisconsin Avenue without even raising our voices to each other..  We checked in and relaxed awhile before getting DFD for dinner, one I was really looking forward to..

Jeff Black and his wife Barbara opened Addie’s, in Rockville in 1992, and were so successful that they have developed several other restaurants in the DC area.   Addie’s closed late last year, but now there still about seven restaurants, most carrying the name “Black” something (Salt, Market, etc.).  Personally I would not call them a “chain” since they are all in the DC area and each has its own character.  Don’t ask me when you become a chain, but my thought you would be that you have to be located in more than one city, and the menu is the same at all locations.  But, that’s beside the point.  Oh, for those locals with a bit of a memory, you might remember when a Chef named Leo Dilling (you still out there, Leo?) opened up business in the “Sterling House” in Leonardtown, called Corbel’s.   Well, he matriculated from one of the Black properties, called Black Salt.  Most of their locations consistently receive pretty high reviews.  So after a little “Yelping” I found one of their properties that was quite close to the hotel

Because of our next day’s schedule, I called and got a reservation at six, which is pretty early for us, and my attempt at humor mentioning blue plate specials was not received very well.. None the less, we showed up on time and were greeted by a rather large and imposing Maitre’ D, who inquired if I was William..  Well, yes, but I usually go by “Bill”.  He then informed me that he was William and never “Bill”..  Okay, works for me, William.  On the way to the table he said that there is a number associated with every name, and that the number associated with our mutual name was One.  No argument here, William!  And William i remained for the evening.  This guy looked like he could play middle line backer for any team in the NFL> The dining space is on one side of the restaurant which is split by a bar and a sleek wine case, which fit with the general decor..

“Matt” approached the table announcing his name and informing us he would be our server. Hmmmmm, but better than taking care of us.  Barely.  Explained a couple of specials and asked about drinks.  Unfortunately, MFO had to abstain from alcohol (Doctor’s orders), so in order to show family solidarity and sympathy with her, I ordered a Martini, settling for Hendrick's since Plymouth was not available (Matt checked).

Most of the Black restaurants kind of feature seafood, and this was no different.  Matt told us that the oysters were especially good, and described the varieties, salinity, texture, etc.  I kind of took that with a grain of salt..  I snuck a picture of that portion of the menu

I finally decided that Oysters would be a good start so I selected a “'round the country” selection with Maryland, PEI, and WA varieties (Barren, Hammersley, and Malpeque) from the Boutique section..  Here’s a little test for you.. do you see an error in that section?  Answer later.
MFO took an Avocado and shrimp salad, and being a beef lover, a Hangar Steak and I took Scallops with a crayfish buerre blanc, Kale, and silky mashed potatoes.  As with a lot of places these days, sides and sauces are offered as special items, with attendant surcharges.  MFO took some roasted carrots, and “what sauce would you like?” resulted in a chimichurri.  That is a quote, not would you like a sauce, but a foregone conclusion you wanted a sauce.  Remember the "upsale" techniques?..   Reminded of that article, I burrowed myself in the martini..
Soon the first courses arrived (with a glass of Sancerre for the bivalves)

and the salad

And despite what may sound like negative reporting above, the food was REALLY good.  MFO’s shrimp tasted like shrimp that had been brushed with smoke and fire, the greens crackled.  The oysters were briny and did have some nuances for each variety.  The sauces (although the dollop of horseradish seemed a bit odd) were quite good.

Entrees followed.  They were also excellent, although Hangar Steak can be difficult. The MFO order  of “medium rare” resulted in the usual restaurant response of “rare”. It had great beefy flavor, but required a bit of chewing.. what you get with hangar steak.

and the completion of the table's "surf and turf" as it turned out

I paired a nice Chenin Blanc with the scallops.  They were delicious.  You know, I don’t think you can screw up a seared scallop…unless you go beyond seared.
We finished off the meal with a Key Lime pie, which was deconstructed, and I had a cappuccino to offset the wine.  It was a very good meal, paired with kind of sketchy service. Things were delivered on time, hot, nicely presented and William is “number one”.

Okay, answer to quiz... scroll back up, look at the "Bistro" oyster menu and look at the (second) Island quoted..  ooops.  I will give Matt credit that when it was pointed out he said "oh my gosh!" and knew it should be Hooper's Island. we weren't offered a gratuity of thanks.. next time you go, check out the menu..

So next morning MFO left the room fairly early to cab over to the research center, and I hung around for a while.  What followed was almost of a full day spent in the waiting room,  waiting for this and that, watching the parade of white coated physicians parade by with clipboards and stern looks on their faces.  At one point we were given a chance for lunch, and were ushered by the very nice assistant who was “taking care of us” (more appropriate this time) to the cafeteria.  Being a fairly new facility there wasn’t the usual institutional line of glass concealed food with those metal tray bars in front.  More of a station concept, where you could get sandwiches, salads, more entrée kind of stuff, desserts and so on.  After some deliberation I chose a sandwich called a Reuben, which came with pickles and chips

And yes, it turned out to be about as bad as it looks. Institutional food is still institutional food.  Chewy lunch meat, some sort of pasty stuff and melted "cheese".  Pickle wasn’t bad.  I won’t dwell on it too long, but that “bread” was one of those damn “Pretzel Rolls” that seem to be the trend now days.  Lets take a sandwich with ingredients that are chewy anyway, and encase them in a bun/roll thing that is also tough to get through, leading you to the chewy stuff.  Enough already.

Finally tests were concluded, data taken, thanks for participating in the study we really appreciate it.  Retrieved the car from Valet parking (remember that if you ever go), reversed the beltway journey and got back to the Mother County of Maryland.  Interesting experience.

Other Other
And because I know that Jane will be reading this from above, a remembrance of the sweet person we lost three years ago Friday..  me and the grassies miss you.. a lot.

And she always


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Bowl of Soup And Bones

Well, I guess any responsible journalist (which kind of excludes me) has commented on Sunday’s football game, so I’ll pretend and throw in a few lines.  The game was really decided in less time than it will take me to type about it.  When the ill advised return of the opening kickoff from deep in the end zone was followed by the football whizzing past an astonished Peyton Manning’s ear, the die was pretty much cast.  The real nail in the coffin was the second half opening kickoff resulting in the ball traversing the field into the end zone.  Whose rule is it that says nothing is ever as good or bad as it seems?  I really don’t think Denver is THAT bad, nor is Seattle THAT good (despite the testimony of the scoreboard).  To be sure, Denver got whupped, but they beat some pretty good teams along the way.  And see, by now the game was (virtually) over.  I also won’t get into the debate on what makes you a “great” quarterback.  I don’t think counting rings is the correct metric.  By that measure, Mark Rypien is a better quarterback than Dan Marino.. lets bring out the (college) round balls now..

And for something completely different, MFO and I are going up the road today to the NIH in Bethesda so she can participate in a study on Essential Tremor they are conducting. Her symptoms weren’t bad enough at the first screening, but they have decided they need a full spectrum,  so have called her back.  So into the teeth of the storm we go..  back tomorrow.  And speaking of things medical, had an interesting (and frustrating) experience yesterday.  We got a call from the local GP’s office reminding me of my check up appointment today (Tuesday) at one o’clock.  Well, I had completely neglected to get my blood work done plus today’s shenanigans occupy my brain enough, so I decided to postpone the visit for a couple of weeks.
I have mentioned this before, but our local physician’s organization employs phone people who are not of our Nationality.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they do interface with people who are used to conversing in a different language.  So my experience went something like:
Hello, Dr. So and So’s office, may I help you sir?  (any attempt at phonetically duplicating the conversation is abandoned)
Yes, this is (me) and I wish to change an appointment.
And you want to schedule an appointment?
No, I have one and wish to change it.
What is your date of birth?.............. And you are Mr. William?
Yes.  I would like to change my appointment to the 19th of February
Okay, Mr. Williams, I can schedule that for you, how about (time and place).
Uhh, okay, but just to be sure I am William !
And you wish to schedule an appointment for yourself as well as Mr. Williams?
You get the idea… after few go rounds (and I did NOT lift my voice), we did iron out that Mr. Williams and myself were one in the same person, and only needed one appointment on the 19th of February..
And the final shot was “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Anyway, I have found a potential restaurant in Bethesda, and will report probably Thursday.  Have to go back a bag so we can be


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Local Cuisine and Bowling

Well, today IS the day, or yesterday WAS the day if you don’t see this until Monday… 

As you know, I tend to publish or talk about various meaningful articles and pieces I run across about food or bits of this and that..  Usually created by some people whom I, at least, respect.  So I guess it is only fair that I journey to the other end of the spectrum once in a while.

A local person whom I shall refer to as “Robert” is a PROLIFIC Facebook poster, and for the most part has interesting or relevant content.  Relatively few kitties and doggie pictures. So when I saw him “share” (if that is the technical term) a link to “The 9 things you must eat when you’re in Maryland”.  I thought, okay, that sounds interesting, so I clicked on over, which threw me to a page called “Thought Catalog”, and the entry by one Chelsea Fagan.  The page was festooned with ads, and links to her other postings such as “Beautiful Male Celebrities who Prove Glasses are Sexy”.. Hmm.. A food expert to be sure.

I will include a couple sentences from her introduction:

I know that I am biased, but I am also right: Maryland has the best food of any state. The diverse geography, combined with so much proximity to water, has led to an incredible culinary history, and about 17,000 ways to eat crabs.

Somehow, the term “diverse geography” seems odd to me, and yes, there it is, my favorite “B” word.  Red flags going up the flag pole.. and the flag hit the top when I saw the first one was:

All Old Bay Everything – with a small paragraph making an analogy to a “horrible drug” and addiction, was concluded with : just so good, so complex and familiar and warm and FLAWLESS. It is the One Spice To Rule Them All.

Without making this impossibly long, her complete list is:
1.     All Old Bay Everything
2.     Cream of Crab Soup
3.     (sic) Good BBQ
4.     Smith Island Cake
5.     Crab Dip
6.     Oysters
7.     Utz (picture of bag of “the Crab Chip – made with Chesapeake Bay Seasoning”
8.     Natty Boh
9.     Full – On Crabs (hard shells).

I won’t go point by point, but:
Utz – made in Pennsylvania;  Herr’s at least puts an Old Bay brand chips; 
Natty Boh – The beer is currently brewed under contract at the MillerCoors brewing facilities in Eden, NC and Albany, GA, and owned by the Pabst Brewing Company, although they claim 90% of sales are in Baltimore (where it was originally brewed).
Oysters – Admits she hates them but included because of her friends
Hard Crabs – “I didn’t move to Maryland until I was in fifth grade, so I didn’t have that crucial mallet-and-knife training that starts when you’re essentially a toddler”  Anybody knows mallets are for tourists..
I will accept the cake..
And excuse me… where are: crab cakes?  Berger Cookies?  Thrasher’s Fries?  Stuffed Ham?,  oh, did I mention that Chelsea currently lives in Brooklyn, New York..??   Enough.

It’s the Little things that get you

So after ten years (?) the fluorescent tube in our pantry burns out, or at least won’t go on anymore.  Fine.  Zip into Lowe’s pick up a new tube.  Come home, contort and get the new one installed.. click…. Nothing.  Re-install.  Nothing.  Maybe the starter?  Sigh..

Okay, it’s the Bowl
So after two weeks of endless dissection of the statement(s) from Mr. Sherman, comparing the Denver offense to the Seattle secondary, how Peyton throws “ducks”, on and on, at least it will be over today.  We are not attending any function, MFO made some bean soup, we have some lovely shrimp, a piece of Haddock, meat balls, and are inking in the “orange snack” box with some Cheeto Puffs.  We are not having wings, although that seems to be item of choice for the game.  We used to do Cajun stuff ( I guess for the spicy component).  So anyway, at least it will be over today.  I am hoping Peyton gets his second ring.

I am also hoping my little square on the (for recreational purposes only) matrix will be a winner.. and I can never watch a super bowl without remembering what good times we had at a friend’s house up the street.  They've moved on but the memories have not!!

Heard very good things about the Ganz concert last night.. was too late at the end of a long day..

Stayed home and was

DFD (and the game)