Sunday, March 30, 2014

Up the banks and over to home...


First, we’ll come home from the OBX, and then I get to catch up with some mild ranting..

After our lovely afternoon on Ocracoke Island, FOJTE prepared a nice meal for our last night in the house.  Speaking of which, I don’t think I ever showed you our local “digs”.  Here’s a picture of "our" house

This is pretty typical of the “houses” you see down there.  Most are built/configured to accommodate anywhere from ~6 to 12 couples (bedrooms), and in general they are “managed” by real estate companies that coordinate dates, rates, etc.  Prices follow the temperatures, that is as the temperature rises (warmer months) so does the rent.  And, given the potential for storms, they are generally built up so that living quarters are on the second and third floor.  The lower levels are for cars.

(the neighborhood)

Consequently there are stairs involved, and we had 32 of them from car to living/dining/kitchen level.  Ours was nicely appointed

And had a lovely view from the back deck

All in all, it is a great place to gather the family and enjoy the company which we very much did, especially our chance to be with our Grand Dog, Stanley.  It certainly will remain a cherished memory of our 50th anniversary, thanks to our “kids”!

Oh, one of the interesting phenomenons of the OBX we should comment opon is the existence of these stores:

The "stores" are virtually everywhere, regardless of the size of the village or little town, and are of varying sizes from smaller to mega stores.  One of those things like Stuckey’s; eventually you HAVE to go into one, you can’t help it.  There are rows and rows and rows and shelves and shelves and shelves of beach stuff, T-shirts of every design and silk screen imaginable, hundreds of hats, visors, caps, etc...  we managed to come out with only one of those little oval black and white OBX magnet thingies..  won’t be on our automobiles but maybe on the kitchen door..

Anyway, with the able help (and younger knees) of FOJTE we re-loaded the MOMSTER

And threaded the needle up the shore

Past Norfolk

And finally to home..  what a week..

Other stuff:

Maybe you have noticed, but Starbuck’s has re-invented most of their food line, with a promotion called Le Boulange, after a bakery chain (?) in San Francisco. Kind of a cheap take off on Boulangerie, the proper name..  Anyway, SB now has revamped their scones, morning buns, croissants, etc.; and added some savory squares along with keeping the sandwiches.  I have now tried a square and the croissant, and they are much better than the previous offerings.  Not a plug, just fyi..

Speaking of plugs, have you seen the latest wrinkle from Subway?  They are now introducing “flatizza’s” which just happen to be a hunk of flatbread, with “your favorite toppings” such as pepperoni, cheese, and tomato sauce.  I don’t think there is a patent on the word “Pizza”, but geez, if it looks like, tastes like, why not call it that..  Sheesh.

Speaking of TV, have you seen the series of commercials now for KFC featuring some harried “Mom” at a table with a grinning “family” in the background eagerly digging into the Colonel’s Bucket, hand to face.  The dialog goes something like mom saying “I never could get the family to eat, and now look at them..I’m such a good Mom”.  Really?  Way to go Mom…

Better Stuff:

You never know what is out there..  There are a group of volunteers who help with the State’s “Big Tree Project”.  They have a list of “champion trees” (their term) being the biggest of a specie (red oak, silver maple, etc.,) and every few year they revisit the trees to re-measure and look for candidates.  A lot of people call in and say “I have a big tree!” and if vetted they come and tromp around and look.  Last year we hosted three of them, and were planning on doing it again this year, but given the lousy weather this weekend, they postponed.

Sports Stuff:

By the end of today there could be three Big Ten teams in the final four!!  Go MSU!

Last Stuff:

Speaking of crummy weather, yesterday’s fog afforded this picture of the bridge, just for interest – bridge to nowhere


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Island Hopping

One time years ago, I was browsing in Joe Orlando’s excellent bookshop over in Leonardtown, and wound up in the “Local Interest” section or whatever it’s called, and my eye fell on a book with a nice illustration of work boats on the cover called “Ocracokers”.  As any wine maker can tell you, it’s what’s on the outside of the bottle that sells it, not what’s inside.  So I bought the little volume and brought it home.  Turned out to be an enjoyable memoir by a person who grew up on Ocracoke Island, which you may know is about at the southernmost end of the Outer Banks.

So we decided to spend our last full day on the OBX by going to the island.  It was probably the best weather we had, and turned out to be a great day.  One nice thing about motoring about on the island(s) is that you really can’t get lost.  Your three choices are:  Go north on 12; Go south on 12; or, get wet.  We used the second option and drove down through Avon, Buxton, to the town of Hatteras (that’s where Dinky’s is).  Of course with MFO at the wheel I have time to take shots of “stuff”, mostly food related – go figure.  If you keep your eyes open you see things like:

What caught my eye was the reference to the Osprey shopping center, but much more interesting was the sign for Buxton Munch next to it.. what the heck is “Eat Real; Bigger Place”?. 

And in the little village of Frisco there was this: 

Devout foodies and hot heads will know that the Scotch Bonnet pepper is arguably the hottest of that family, and the juxtaposition of that name with Fudge intrigued me.  If you google Scotch Bonnet Fudge the little shop pops up, and the description describes their (21 flavors of) taffy, fudge, jelly beans, T-Shirts, gifts and so on with no mention of the hot little vegetable.  I can’t imagine they haven’t been asked.

The way you get to Ocracoke Island is to take about an hour’s (free) ride on a car ferry similar to

Which leaves Hatteras and cycles back and forth to Ocracoke on the half hours.  There is more than one vessel, and each take a varying amount of vehicles and trucks up to maybe twenty or so.  Once you leave the pier you can get out and look around.  The FOJTE’s and I got out and went up on the little deck, and the first thing I saw in the epitome of the land of "local" was


There were more than humans along for the ride

As well as other creatures who apparently would rather ride than fly.

I asked him several times to turn around but only got tail feathers.  If he would have, he would have been a handsome laughing gull like this one

Eventually we got to the island, disembarked and drove the length of the island to the town by the same name.  FOJTE had set up the schedule so that somehow we arrived just about lunch time!  Go figure… smart kid.  I did a little Yelping and we had decided on and found a little place called

A little research reveaed the name is an acronym for “Doug And Judy In Ocracoke” after the owners and chef.  Also turns out that Doug had an award winning restaurant in Lexington KY.  Tough competition in that place!! 

It had a very nice enclosed little patio

And they were kind enough to put up the umbrella for us 
because the welcome sun was warm and bright and this cancer kid favors the shade.  Our server was extremely nice, no canned speeches and took orders for welcome drinks.  FOJTE ordered one of the local (North Carolina) brews, and his wife, MFO and I went with wine.  MFOS(ister) stuck with Tea.

Their menu is an attractive tri-fold affair made with real paper, not encased in plastic

There was a interesting list of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and heavier entrees,  which not surprisingly leaned heavily on seafood,  Carnivores would however be happy too.  Why the feeder didn’t take a picture of the selections can only be put down to the fact that after such a long boat ride he was in a hurry to order something to drink.
After some conversation and consumption of the drinks, we got around to ordering food which included a cup of chowder, a couple of salads (Roasted Beet, and the “Big Salad” which was akin to a chef’s salad) crab cakes, the appetizer of crab dip, and I got some Shrimp Tacos, being a trendy guy.

The food came out in a nice pace, starting with my clam chowder full of clams and earthy Shiitake mushrooms

Shown with the vestiges of my wine, which is not a classic pairing I will admit, however I that was remedied when my tacos arrived

with an Endless River, a Kölsch style beer brewed by Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, NC.  Buy or rather, drink local!  Everybody enjoyed their meal, and although my shrimp were battered with that spicy mix, it was (just) within my tolerance band, which admittedly isn't very wide.  Of course eating them with your hands was fruitless, hence the fork.

After lunch we wandered around the little town of Ocracoke some, a charming little place.  On the way back to the ferry we found another clever sign... ha ha

Once back on the "mainland", we had to stop at the famous lighthouse

And then went back to Kissed by the Sun, where FOJTE prepared an excellent dinner of Grouper Puttanesca for us.  A wonderful day and meal for which we were



Off Topic post script but I can’t resist:
I know I have mentioned many times how much I enjoy Brian Ganz’s “Piano Talks” at St. Mary’s College.  And I think I have also mentioned that I heard they might be considering charging admission for what has been a free noon time interlude of great music.  I found out today there is another "talk" this Thursday, featuring not only Brian, but also the very talented Beverly Babcock which should be a great little concert.  Well, guess what?  You can enjoy the concert if you have seven bucks in your pocket to get in the door.. however students get by for a mere five bucks.  When you were a student, did you have extra Franklin’s to spend on a (in some cases) required attendance event?   I suppose in an effort to try to remedy shortfalls in other areas, this seemingly draconian decision was made by “The Authorities”. 

Somehow, as I said before it kind of changes the informality and intimacy of those concerts.  Ticket Please!  You! Over there! I didn’t see your ticket!  Security!!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

thousands of words

On the go this morning, so try to save a lot of words with a quick pictorial recap... starting with St. Pats Day celebrated as 

and a busy day starting with a visit to a National Monument to the pair that started what turned out to be my profession!!

 and touring of course generates a thirst so we found a place to take care of that and eat (nothing overly special, beer was good)

And the whole point of the trip was to finally celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and the FOJ's prepared a little surprise for us before dinner..

The glasses contained a lovely inscription and eventually contained the Morgan Pinot which was very tasty along with the soppressata and bleu cheese

After enjoying the celebration with the family (plus MFO's sister MFOS) we drove down through Buxton to Hatteras for dinner at

which was very reminiscent of our own Dry Dock back home

and had very good food including a nice Oyster Rockefeller appetizer

all of the dishes we had were very good...  A long story, but FOJTY's wife found out that the bartender was a friend of somebody they met at a hunt trial for Stanley, which is how we found out about Dinky's, so she introduced herself and he was very glad to meet us.  And, since it was a special evening, i broke my standard drink regimen and had Steve make a Sazerac.  it was darn good.  

Anyway that was a day in the life on the OBX and we finally have sun!

and speaking of Stanley (our granddog), he was one of the group.. much fun

and believe me, he was ALWAYS


Monday, March 17, 2014

Banks of the Outer...

Well happy St. Patrick’s day… if you are honoring St. Patrick by raising an Irish beverage, a enjoy a cool one (NOT cold), and unless you’re in Ireland, perhaps Smithwick’s wold be a better choice than what passes for Guinness in the states (IMHO) courtesy of Mr. Pasteur.  Anyway, the music and company are good, so have fun

Meanwhile to get you somewhat up to date.. Saturday’s nice weather provided easy loading of the MOMSTER II (we did have to confirm with our neighbors we were NOT moving permanently)

And eventually we departed and struck out for North Carolina and the Outer Banks (cleverly abbreviated as OBX).   With some consultation of people more familiar with the place than us, we went down Route 17 through Virginia to Yorktown, across the York, then down to Newport News and its immense shipping yards

under the James River 

To Norfolk, circumnavigating around to Rtes. 168 to 158 and headed south to the beaches.

One of the things I do to amuse myself in the right seat as MFO is in command is to do grab shots of various eateries we run across.  I love the “Mom and Pop” places, and of course in this neck of the woods (poor analogy), seafood dominates with lots of Oysters!

as well as markets

and of course not everybody is immersed in seafood, so there are also places for the carnivores

As we continued south, we were struck by the similarity to our own Ocean City..  said in as nice as way as possible, there was mile after mile of surf shop after surf shop, tee shirt shops, kitchy places, sleazy looking bars (which may be okay), kind of like you pulled a string on Ocean and drew it out for miles.

Eventually however we left the commercialized area for

And the road changes from mile after mile of tourist traps to mile after mile of

Never having been here before I sort of envisioned a strip of sand, a road, and water on either side.  Well, all of those exist, but they are spread out enough that we could rarely see the water.  Road burrowing down a bunch of trees..

What “towns” there are tend to cluster so that you arrive in Rodanth, pretty quick you somehow are in Waves, and into Salvo with little notice.  Weird.  So after a little flailing around in Salvo we found the rental agency and got the key to our beach house..  

I think I’ll stop here in the interest of both of our time, and pick up the story tomorrow.  And to jump back to today (St. Patrick’s Day) while you folks up in Maryland are digging out once again, we have “high Surf advisories” and our seascape looks like

And since we’re dining “in” this evening we don’t have to worry about


Friday, March 14, 2014

Numbers, travels, and books....

Long time readers, (if there are any left -  I hope so), will remember in the formative days of the Bottom Feeder, I became enamored of messing around with the date of the year, or the month, figuring out fiendishly clever formulae with dates like if you multiply the day of the month times the year and you subtract the number of the month, you get……  Well, my days of being fiendishly clever have passed, but in honor of those days, I have to point out that today is what has become to be known as “Pi Day”. Today is the fourteenth day of the third month, so at three o’clock (or, if you like, at one o’clock), some minutes, etc., you get the number Pi to a certain number of digits, 3.141529… etc.
I thought it appropriate to point that out, being somewhat esoteric and of interest to people, while maintaining my reputation as strange.  Well, I went out and got the morning paper (Enterprise) this morning while retrieving the trash tub, and found a front page article about the day.  Sigh…  and surprisingly enough, there isn’t a google doodle, I thought odd.  Anyway enjoy dividing your circumference by your diameter.

Well, now, what is this?

Are the flutters leaving the digs?  Is somebody moving in?  what IS all that stuff??… well, it goes back to last year and a (long not recounted here) story about a live auction at a local charity event.  It ended up that we rented a house on the Outer Banks for a week in which we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (of last year).  We’ve invited family to join us, so planes, trains (well, not really), and automobiles will find the FOJ’s assembling over the weekend for the week.  We will also host our Grand Dog “Stanley”, who will be participating in his first competition on the way to the OBX.  More on that later (we don’t know the story yet).

Anyway, as our alert readers on the right coast know, the outer banks are relatively sparse when it comes to “stuff”, and so MFO has assembled and packed enough necessities so we can be pretty much self sufficient for the week.  Hence the mound pictured above.   Fortunately, it will all fit into the MOMSTER II, and we are starting tomorrow morning for the town of Salvo.  The house is supposed to have a network so hopefully I can post some pictures and descriptions for your enjoyment.

Book note:
And lastly (gotta get going this morning), an alert that this weekend is the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale, which generates funds for the libraries benefit when you come and buy the books (hardcovers for two bucks, paperbacks less).  Today (Friday (Pi Day)) is members only, but you can join on the spot and get first crack at the books.  Noon to eight today, ten to five tomorrow and noon to three on Sunday..  It is at the same place as ever, the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds.  I will be doing my usual job today as cashier in the Non – Fiction building.  (that’s where the cooking books are!).

Okay, that’s a short one for today, and although I’m not sure there will be the opportunity, our packing includes the capability to be


Saturday, March 8, 2014

The End Draws Near..

You know that old saw about walking half way to the wall over and over will result in the fact you never get there?  I’m sort of in that predicament myself.  In this case it’s a book.  You remember I said I had that book called "50 Foods; The Essentials of Good Taste", by Edward Behr?  As I said then, it discussed what he considers the fifty most important foods, from Anchovies to Walnuts.  Depending on the item, there are two to four pages discussing characteristics, varieties, methods of cooking, how to buy it, what complements the item, and words about wine.  Its matter of fact, to the point, and succinct.  Excellent information.  I find I very much enjoy reading it and am learning a lot.  I am currently on number forty one: Potatoes. That means there are only nine more items to go.  So here’s the dilemma: if I keep reading (and enjoying), it will be over.  I don’t want it to be over!  I suppose I could begin again.  Oh well, I do have somewhat of an out:
In more than one of the chapters, Mr. Behr refers to the following book:

We had Amazon perform its miracle and within a day or two of clicking “Check out” it was on my porch.  A quick thumb through reveals that it is pretty much the same format, but with 290 pages, there isn’t quite the same amount of space for each vegetable.  So I look forward to learning about Louvana Chickling Vetch from Cyprus, Griselle Shallots from France, Giant Zittau Onions from Germany, as well as the more common Pumpkin Yam Sweet potatoes from America.  Looks like good reading.  The endless variety and pleasures of food.

Numbers of Books - on the Move!

Segueing into more books, this morning MFO and I helped with the annual book migration from the Leonardtown Library to the Fairgrounds for the Friends of the Library Annual Book Sale..  An armada of vehicles queued up behind the building

And then an army of volunteers loaded the hundreds of boxes into them

And then multiple trips were made to the fairgrounds

And then the boxes were further dispersed to the proper buildings (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s, Rare, and so forth)

This coming week they will be unpacked, organized, and will be waiting for you next weekend.  Thousands of books will be gobbled up at two bucks for a hardback and only a buck for paperbacks.  You really should come on over and look for that special book.  There are hundreds of cook and food related books, as always.

As we were leaving, we stopped to see some Turkeys in the field by the fairgrounds

And stopped again to pick up some local meats from our friend Willie Goddard’s little shop south of Leonardtown

if you can't read the sign, he's open Saturdays 9 - 1
 (until the farmer's market opens)

More Foodie Numbers
I don’t know if you get the daily Washington Post, but I picked up the Friday edition for an article in the “Weekend”. It was titled “40 Dishes Every Washingtonian Must Eat”, a nine page spread with pictures of each one along with where you could get it.    There was a little discussion about each one, something about the restaurant/shop where they were available and a little history, along with why they were a "must eat".   One (especially me) is always suspect of these kinds of things,  thinking: “for X dollars, you can make the list!”.  The author spent a lot of ink assuring us that they were selected from soliciting opinions of “real” people on social media, various blogs (most likely not the present one!) which are then informally voted on by the editorial staff.  Maybe so.

You’ve had enough pictures to look at, so I won’t give you more.  Nor will I list them all, but a few maybe of interest.  Oysters at Old Ebbitts Grill; Duck Confit at Water and Wall; Burger Américain at Le Diplomate; Wings at BonCHon; Taramosalata at Kapnos; or how about Dwaeji bulgogi at Yoonha’s Kitchen and Deli?  Most of the places were unfamiliar with me, so perhaps this might be a good guide into the unusual.  Interesting.   Although I didn’t look, you can probably find the list on line..

Okay, Mr. Goddard’s pork chops are about thawed, so I’ll go get the grill ready because today when you go outside, you don’t FREEZE YOUR “Butt” (not the word I would use, but this is a family blog) OFF”!  Naked in the streets folks!  After which you must