Monday, May 26, 2014

Hi Buddy!

Today being a day during which we remember those who gave service to us and our country, I think it is an appropriate time to mention our friend Butch.  Butch joined his fellow servicemen in Arlington National Cemetery last month, and will be honored today with all who are laid to rest there.

Although he had a “real” name, he was just… Butch to all who knew him.  We became acquainted through a mutual friend, and all you had to do was meet him once, and he was your friend.  An impish little smile and twinkle in his eye made him your buddy instantly.  He shared a love of history, and helped MFO at the Historical Society with computer “stuff”.   His service in the Navy also revolved around computer “stuff”, particularly in the area of security.

We never knew exactly what he did during his time in the Navy, but it seemed to involve things like dark rooms deep within the White House, being on foreign soil, and aboard ships.  Only occasionally would you get a story about some Russian Official in Moscow who had a fondness for a particular single malt Scotch, and in exchange for a bottle from Butch (fluent in Russian), “information” might have been passed.  I’m sure there are stories we will now never hear.  Right up until he was unable, he would make almost weekly trips to the White House.  Didn’t ask, didn’t tell.  To coin a familiar phrase, there were layers of that onion we will never peel back.

It is never the right time to say a final goodbye to a dear friend, and of course we wish his time  with us could have been extended, there were so many meals to enjoy, drinks to share

and especially those gatherings in the kitchen, a place he particularly enjoyed and took pleasure in cooking us a meal.  But we were ever so much better for the time we did have to share, and he will always be with us, I can just hear him say  “Hey Buddy”…

thanks for sharing time with us and your country.. we’re all better off for your presence

Rest proudly.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Mixologist at work!

Well, finally I got around to initiating my “Sazerac” experiment.  I suppose this would be a nice topic for a Utube entry but I have no idea how to do that..  so this is kind of a tutorial.

One of the recipes in hand, I assembled the necessary ingredients, including two old fashioned glasses, one for mixing and ice in the other for serving:

And began:  "In one of the old fashioned glasses, muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water"

(Notice the clever mixologist, not having a fancy “muddler” finds a low cost substitute of a ten penny nail)

Then add 1½ oz. Rye, two dashes of Peychaud’s; one of Angostura bitters with a few ice cubes

Once again the lack of specific measures confounds the (engineer and) Feeder.   Just like “splash”, how much is a “dash”?  I don’t know about you, but every time I try to “dash” with a quick invert of the bottle, I get anywhere from one to three drops of whatever.  So trying to get two of Peychaud’s and one of Angostura is a goal, but hard to regulate.  I ended up with “about twice as much Peychaud’s as Angostura”.  And, I think I mentioned it before, a lot of the recipes DO call for both brands, although many have only the Peychaud’s.   And, this was the first attempt.  Time to vary that!

"Discard the ice cubes from the other old fashioned glass and roll around a few drops of absinthe until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess

I should note at this point that that bottle of (Imported) Mata Hari Absinthe, was quite dear.  If I owned a bar, and made a fair number of Sazeracs, I MIGHT use that bottle, but for me it will be a lifetime supply.  And “pouring off the excess” kind of hurts.

Anyway, plunging ahead, I strained the rye mixture into the iced Absinthe coated glass

And rub the lip of the glass with a lemon peel

Here again, there are varying opinions on what to with the peel, some recipes call for putting it in the drink, others are adamant that it be discarded.  I opted for the discarded advice and voilá! You have (one version of) a classic Sazerac Cocktail!

Okay, with a trail of “ discard, excess, and remove” behind me, I finally got to taste the finished product.  I have to report that I was a bit disappointed.  However, I am well aware of the existence of the “cook it yourself’ phenomenon.  I’m sure you've noticed that whenever you make some dish yourself you've had elsewhere, it somehow never seems to taste quite as good as the one somebody else made and set before you even though it is the exact same recipe, and the exact same ingredients.  

Regardless, I thought this drink didn’t have much character. The anise of the Absinthe came through, as did the sweetness from the sugar, and the slight acidity from the lemon on the rim of the glass. I think maybe due to taking photos while I went, it may have warmed a bit more than it should have.  Another factor could be that I used the lower proof Rye, with the Pikesville weighing in at only 80 proof.  While this is helpful for sipping (when you might have more than one), perhaps in a mixed drink a higher proof would give it more character.  Next time I’ll be able to go straight through the process in much less time, so we'll see.

But, it was fun and a good initial attempt.  I’ll keep going; as we used to say in the engineering business: “Test, Analyze, and Fix”.

Buying Local

Yesterday (Friday) I had another session with the Dermatologist Surgeon who mined in my nose for some ill behaving cells, with the result I am sporting a bandaged schnoz that Clarabelle would be proud of.  This is not my first rodeo with this stuff, and normally I sort of seclude myself in the digs (a reason to have it done Fridays) for a couple of days because the big stuff can be removed in 48 hours to be replaced by a still obvious but less obtrusive dressing.   
Due to a busy week for the Flutters, our larder is quite depleted, and since we had nothing planned for tonight we thought at civilized cocktail hour and a relatively nice dinner would be good balm for my physical and mental wounds.  So while MFO went over to Tudor Hall to continue prepping for the Raiders and Invaders weekend, I decided to swallow my looks and go to the Farmer’s Market to get some local meats. Once you've had that beef and pork, Giant just doesn't do it anymore.

Of course when I got there, I saw everybody I knew, the Port of Leonardtown Winery folk, several of the vendors, and so on.  Quite naturally they all said “What happened to you?” and I had to explain my looks.  They were all sympathetic of course and commiserated with me.  When I told MFO that I was going, I quipped that I would scare away all the children at the market..
So of course while I was chatting with the winery people, a little girl walked up, pointed at my proboscis and yelled: “Mommy, look at him!”.  Mommy came over to retrieve the youngster and we joked about it.  She said that “with kids there are no filters”, which I thought was pretty accurate. It was kind of therapeutic for me, realizing that people take you for what you are, not particularly how you look.  Anyway, I came away with a few nights worth of dinner and some nice greens.  You know, that "buy local" stuff isn't just a catchy phrase, it means you get to eat fresh, great tasting food.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget it’s called Memorial Day for a real reason. We can do this stuff because someone took it as their duty to make sure we could..  and the least we can do is


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hurry up, Chef!!

As I have related before, I get a bunch of food magazines, and they run the gamut from….. I don’t know, “popular”? to serious stuff.  Like maybe Martha Stewart Living to Art of Eating.  By the way, publications like “Cooking Light” do not find their way to my mailbox. While Martha spends time telling you how she harvested the cotton, milled it, and wove her own tablecloth and then forged the silver for the table and so forth, she occasionally does have some interesting recipes.  Art of Eating, at the other end of the spectrum, goes on about some restaurant on a little island in the Aegean with three tables that serves (in Edward Behr’s opinion) the best squid in the world which, while unobtainable to most of us, makes fascinating reading. Somewhere near the lower end of the spectrum is Cook’s Country, kind of an arm of Chris Kimball’s Cook’s Illustrated.  It started out life as kind of a celebration of “home cooking” and contained recipes with sometimes stuff like historical photos of a North Dakota housewife with her recipe for Blueberry Buckle.  Over its relatively short lifetime, it has kind of morphed back to the Cook’s Illustrated model, featuring novel ways of approaching some dishes.  

It always starts off with a page of “ask Cook’s Country” where people can submit burning culinary questions such as (I am not making this up): “I have a collection of fancy salts, can I substitute them for Kosher or table salt in cooking and baking?”  Answer: “yes, basically salt tastes like salt”.  Of course then they go on to say that they tested 234,591 varieties of salt, and found that…basically salt taste like salt.  They did bring up crystal size and how that might affect using volume measures, so maybe a nugget of knowledge. Then there’s the requisite page of “tips”, where I learn you can extend the life of berries by washing them in a solution of one cup of vinegar to three of water, dry them in a salad spinner, and store in a container with the lid slightly ajar to let the moisture escape.  You bet, I’m on that..

But what got me with this issue was an article/recipe for Shrimp Ėtouffée.  We all know that’s a famous New Orleans Cajun and/or Creole dish, and can be made with a variety of degrees of spiciness, with or without Andouille, etc.  However, it seems that this author was more concerned with “shortcuts” and saving time than making a good dish.  The subtitle to the article was: “we wanted to cut down on the work of making….”.   Really!  That darn cooking is WORK?  She begins by saying how much she liked the étouffée she had on a trip to New Orleans, and wanted to recreate it at home (apparently without all that darn work).  She begins by making a traditional roux, with flour and butter which she “stirred and stirred, and stirred some more, and a long 20 minutes later had a rich nutty brown roux”;  then she added the (culinary) Holy Trinity, garlic, and so forth and cooked for “another 10 minutes”; in goes the stock and then a resentful: “simmered 25 more minutes”; finally added the shrimp allowing the pot to simmer “a mere  5 minutes longer”, and got a very good dish.  But then:  “The étouffée was quite good, but it was taking too long”. (all italics mine).

Well, then, excuse me… did you have someplace to go?  Do you think the New Orleans chefs you mention in the article (John Besh, Emeril, Paul Prudhomme) thought that?  Did they, like you, look for “shortcuts” like toasting the flour before adding the butter for the roux?.  The reason their food tastes so good is because they are willing to take the time to do things properly even if it takes much longer.  This idea of looking for ways of “cheating” (my word) to create less work for yourself or save those precious few minutes is just wrong.

Now, i must add that I have complained about this phenomenon before, and I can just hear a certain red haired loads engineer I used to work with yelling at me: “you work a full day, get the kids, come home, and then try to spend two hours creating something for supper and see how that goes!”.  And she does have a point.. there are times when you have to get something on the table, and you don’t want buckets or sacks, so some shorter recipes for reasonable dishes are helpful.  All I will say is that if you want to have a classic dish once it a while, pick your time and make it the classic way.

And another thing that really bugged me about the article was the picture of the finished dish.  There were lovely pink shrimp in a gorgeous rich brown sauce, over white (big perfect separate grains) rice. 

BUT, see those “lovely” shrimp have that ugly roll of fat on either side of the split back?  I can’t stand that.  You can’t chew it very well, it sticks in your teeth, sometimes hangs loose and is just plain ugly.  You know what? It takes only just a little time to remove it, it isn't hard, and makes the dish ever so much more appealing.. But, it probably adds a maximum of a whopping ten minutes…What?  just to improve the looks?… out it goes!!  Next time you get shrimp, see if it is there.  If the shrimp were shelled and cleaned by hand, I’ll bet it will be removed; if they were frozen from a bag I’ll bet the will be there.  We deserve better…

In the same issue was a recipe for “Rhode Island Johnnycakes”.  News to me.. at least you can cut corners there I guess.   And most likely you don’t have to


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Living History

Yesterday I made my initial visit to “the City” to sit for a while at the

Although Historic St. Mary's City has been open since March, sickness, weather, and a variety of other reasons prevented me from docent duty at the Chapel until yesterday.  Although it sometimes seems a chore (gotta get my stuff, put it in the car, drive down there, walk out to the Chapel), every time at the end of the day I am glad I did it.  Yesterday was graduation at the adjoining college so there were lots of folks around.  In my stint from about 11 to 4, I had 45 folks visiting the Chapel, which (unfortunately) is an unusually high number. Some of that number includes kids, who always enjoy the amazing acoustics inside the building.  Meaning screaming at the top of their lungs.  I had one family group with five kids (maybe seven on down), who ran around so fast I had difficulty counting them.  Sort of like the lady in the shoe…

I always enjoy talking to the visitors, at least the non screaming kind.  They have interesting questions about the chapel and its history and reconstruction (“It’s really on the original (1667) foundation?   Wow!”) and most are at least somewhat interested in the colony’s history and Lord Baltimore.  Or at a minimum, they are polite enough to listen to me for a while.  It’s interesting to try to read them and figure out when to shut up.  Loss of eye contact, fidgeting, looking toward the door, single word responses, all indicate that it is time for the docent to say “thanks for coming, enjoy the rest of your tour”.   Some just kind of come into the chapel, quickly look around and leave without asking any questions.  How can you come into a building that looks like

And not be impressed or take the time to look around a bit and learn more?..  But they are the exception rather than the rule.  Most people like to hear about the place.  In between groups it gets very quiet inside the building and I took a few pictures yesterday with the light coming through the windows.  Very calming, but in a way maybe not surprising for a religious site.

I did have one visitor that didn’t stop, as it was being harried by a bunch of bluejays in the trees next to the road.  Eventually a red tailed hawk appeared and departed for quieter quarters.  Hearing the commotion, I knew something was up and kept the camera ready, and was lucky enough to get a quick shot

Finally the flow of patrons stopped and I packed up my stuff, and left the peaceful still life scenes

Inside and headed down the outside path

toward home (well, the parking lot, but that’s not so glamorous.    And I was glad I took the time..  Great place.  come visit sometime

the quiz

I did have a winner in the quiz about “what drink does this stuff make?” posed in the last edition.  Of the hundreds (well, one) respondents, he/she anonymously pegged a Sazerac. which is correct.  The question was asked by them “why Angostura?”.  Good question. While Peychaud’s is the classic choice for bitters, I was surprised to see more than one (there are many) of the recipes calls for both.  “Three dashes of Peychaud’s, one of Angostura’s”.  Part of my exhaustive research will require sampling drinks made several ways. Science is so demanding.  Of course it is highly subjective, but finding what one likes is a good reward for diligent experimentation.  Stay tuned!  Or contemplate while you


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Berries and Burgers

Good day....  After Tuesday’s bright sun and warm temperatures, we were greeted today with fog and drizzle, which gave the Solomon’s a ghostly appearance

I do enjoy these days occasionally, the kind of soothe the soul, plus you really can’t do yard work very well under these conditions… see?

So I took a friend up on an offer to accompany him to the Loveville Produce Auction.  And there any gloom was offset by the riot of colors of all the flowers and baskets that were part of the day’s offerings.

Beautiful hanging baskets as well as bedding plants of flowers and vegetables were available for purchase, as well as a few hot house raised vegetables – zukes, cukes, all sorts of salad greens and even a few tomatoes.

And, although it does look like a flower show, which in a way it is, you have to remind yourself that it is a business for the growers.  And the business part is really a show in itself.  The auction is conducted by Mennonites, and consists of a group of about three or four, who go from batch to batch auctioning off the items.  Generally the products are in “lots”, and they go down the row.  There is an auctioneer, a person who announces what the items are (“4 crates of number 3 zucchinis”) usually holding one aloft, and what the units are (quarts, boxes, etc.), along with an opening price.  What follows is almost unintelligible (to the uninitiated), carried out exactly like every parody of any auctioneer you ever heard.  Basically he calls a price, then looks for a “taker” in the group of buyers, and the give and take continues until the “winner” with the highest price is unopposed. While it is fascinating to listen to the auctioneer, watching the buyers is also entertaining.  

It is almost impossible to detect any reaction from the crowd, but the auctioneer reads them like a book.  He knows who is bidding against whom, and his eyes dart from one potential buyer to another.  I swear a twitch of an eye changes the price.  Usually a small nod is the sign that the person is willing to pay the current price, and this goes on until there are no more. Sometimes a buyer will shake his head if he has been in the bidding to indicate he/she quits.  Each of the buyers has a number, and at the end, the “Sold, $2.56 per quart for the lot to number 259” is recorded.  It is a ritual worth seeing.  When you are done buying, you go to a window, tell them your number and you are given a slip with itemized purchase and the total price.  A great system.
It is so nice to see all the gleaming produce, lovely flowers, lush plants all painstakingly packaged and presented.  Just makes you feel good.  A nice glimpse into a different culture that still survives and thrives in our county.  Although everywhere you look there is a picture, like a little kid in overalls with blond hair peeking out from under a straw hat, I leave the camera in the pocket.  The flowers and vegetables are willing subjects of course.

We left with some greens and flats of lovely ripe strawberries loaded in the back of the vehicle.

MFO will no doubt put these to good use

Besides the restaurateurs and vendors who are there to “buy local” and deal in the pallet size lots, there is also a “small lots” section where individuals can jump in and buy lesser quantities.  It takes a bit of guts to get in the game, but after watching for a bit you get the hang of it.  Even if you don’t want to buy anything it is worth the trip just to observe our community interacting with farmers and users of the land.  There is no charge or anything, and you will feel welcomed. Starts at nine on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on the Loveville road.  

Switching Ends..

And, at the extreme other end of the chain, so to (cleverly) speak, believe it or not, there will be another chain that will show up one of these days.  Subway has entered into an agreement with a worldwide burger chain based in New Zealand called BurgerFuel.  If you poke around their website as I did, the burgers are kind of standard, but you will find out that their prices are rather sporty.  The "Bio Fuel" is described as "1/3 pound 100% pure NZ grass fed beef, free range egg, beetroot, salad, relish and fresh natural BF aioli". Only sets you back a mere $10.50.  Perhaps they will be altered when they are presented in Subways..
Speaking of poking around and Subway, during a little research, I find out that one of the original owners of Subway was one Fred DeLuca who started “Pete’s Submarines” (named for his business partner Peter Buck) in 1965.  
Eventually it was shortened to the present name of just Subway.

But what caught me up short was his surname of “DeLuca”.  I immediately thought of Dean and DeLuca..  fortunately a little more searching found the gourmet delicatessen DeLuca was Giorgio DeLuca, and is no relation to the sandwich guy.  Incidentally, Joel Dean (1930 – 2004) was born in Ohio and attended Michigan State University!!

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how BurgerFuel integrates with the ubiquitous house of subs..  where you definitely do NOT have to


(Or go there, for that matter!)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Boquet

clever rhyme, eh?  kind of a bunch of flowers today

although this is Mother’s day, it doesn't have much to do with Mothers, other than I used the term as part of the first item.

First the thorn..

This morning I was on my way to Starbucks for my daily shot, and mindful of the special day I thought I would stop at our local Panera’s and get a pastry for MFO and a bagel for myself.  So I was in a pretty good mood, enjoying the morning weather and lack of traffic while going north on R. 235.  I was traveling at my usual five mph over the limit, meaning I was going about fifty.  All of a sudden, I was aware of a small car beside me, clearly going many more than five mph over the recommended speed (we don’t have “limits” per se, just signs with posted "goals", which are routinely ignored).

Anyway, about this time the stop light at the next intersection went yellow.  Now, when I say the next intersection, I don’t mean (we) were stomp on the brakes upon it.  It was visible, but maybe a quarter of a mile or “up there”.   About the distance where normal civil drivers (like us) would take our foot off the gas coast a bit and eventually apply the brakes to come to a gentle stop at the light.  No problem, we do it all the time.   Well, not so my for friend in the little push car with a wing on the back!  Immediately on seeing the light go yellow the buzz rose to a roar and he shot ahead.  Now, we normally think of the “intersection” as being defined by the edge of the crosswalk marker, and I since I wasn't there (by a long shot) he might have had an inch of his front tire rubber past the line when the light was full red.  I muttered something to do with Mothers under my breath and stopped.  Guess who was waiting for me at the next (red) light up the road?  and since I was driving correctly, I arrived as it turned green and cruised by him.

More of a flower 

I turned in at Panera and parked along the far side of the lot, virtually at the foot of the hideous double pole there by the bank.  Went in, got my bagel and pastry and when I came out, there was a car next to me with four people standing by it staring at the power poles, necks craned skyward.  As I got nearer to them, I could hear them saying something about the massive diameter at the base.  As they turned to go into the store, the gentleman remarked “and they sure are pretty” shaking his head.  I am still amazed at the ease with which these visual atrocities were added to our skyline.

Onward, I got to Starbucks, got my Latte, and picked up a sleeve and saw:

I have always thought of Starbucks as a sort of forward thinking, reasonable, company and to see they have resorted to pithy philosophy by that woman in depressing.  I’m sure they paid for the privilege.  Sigh..

the blooms

But, enough of curmudgeonly whining..  Some things in today’s Washington Post would be of interest to us food people.  Mr. Sietsema reported on a visit to Nashville, and places he ate.  One of which was Lockeland Table, where the cooking is done by a chef Holden – Bache formally of the Greenbrier in West Virginia.  Mr. Sietsema liked the food, and said a highlight of his 48 hours in Music City was Chef’s special of  “thick-cut house-made baloney warmed in the hickory-fired pizza oven, and topped with bright yellow chowchow”.   Given that he also dined at Sean Brock’s recently opened Husk, a brother of the highly acclaimed restaurant in Charleston, that’s quite an honor.  I’m not sure I am ready for home made thick cut bologna.  Nor would I be interested in a dish from The Partisan, a restaurant he reviewed in today’s Magazine of the Post.  The main theme of Partisan is meat, particularly charcuterie, a dish which I am always a sucker for (good meat, bad english).  And Partisan is apparently embracing the very trendy “nose to tail” movement because for seventy five bucks, you and five of your friends can share a “pig head cooked for half a day and delivered with hot and sweet pickled peppers”.  Fortunately no picture was given.  I can stand to have a plate with a trout looking at me, but this might be a bit much..

And on the liquid side of things, Maryland’s second distillery, Lyon Distilling, has opened on the Eastern Shore in St. Michaels.  Blackwater Distilling (also on that side in Stevensville) was the first.  While Blackwater features their Sloop Betty Vodka, Lyon is pushing their Rum.  Their claim to fame is that they are indeed “handcrafted”, meaning (to them) they have their “hands on every bit of the process”.  They also claim that since there were five working rum distilleries in Maryland during the 1700’s, rum can be considered “the quintessential American spirit”.  Not sure I’m ready to sign up for that, our Rye was extremely popular during that time and lot of rum was imported from England.  But I was heartened to see that they are going (or are) to produce a line of Rye Whiskey.  Worth watching.

And lastly, speaking of Rye, here are a few ingredients I have assembled for my next cocktail adventure..  what cocktail do you think it is?  Many experiments to follow.. Stay Tuned

And, alert west coast reader, who pointed out my recent closing faux pas here’s a make up

DFD along with today’s

And, for sure happy Mother’s Day to all!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On the Menu

One of the ways I battle the demons of the night (who visit me from their home in stoplights) is to listen to my little transistor radio through an under-pillow speaker (so as not to bother MFO).  Deep night radio has its own culture with shows about aliens in the basement, to how the government is installing chips in our brain, various shades of political rhetoric, and lots of sports call-in shows. Occasionally I grow tired (pun?) of these and listen to the actual news, which is usually depressing.  But, WTOP sometimes includes little snippets in between stories.  One such caught my attention the other night.  It was allegedly taken from Men’s Health Magazine, and it was teased as:  “in a minute, learn how restaurants trick you with the menu!”.  Three car commercials, and two PSA’s later, they went on to say that restaurateurs use pictures on the menu to entice you to buy the more expensive or higher margin items.  You’re hungry, you sit down, you learn who will be “taking care of you” for the evening, and pop open the menu.   And there, in glossy living color is a photo of a plate with a steak, a heap of fries or mound of mashed potatoes, and maybe some green beans.   “Wow Honey! Look at that!”  I’ll have one of those!”  Later on you learn you ordered the $29 steak instead of the $17 burger you had in mind when you arrived.  At least that is the theory.

A little research on my own resulted in verification that it is widely believed (and proven with data) that in fact it is true that menu items pictured bring increased orders for those dishes.  “you eat with your eyes” as somebody once said.  Somewhere in the report they did use the phrase “depending on which chain you choose” and we all know that menus in those venues typically do have pictures.  Hard for me to believe that somebody actually picks their order based on a picture.  But, maybe.  Any good food photographer can make most anything look appetizing.  I guess an ancillary practice (now dying, I think) is when they bring a tray of raw things to the table for presentation, a la Morton’s.  Not really appetizing.

And, I don’t really object to the practice of some places that have photos of a selection of their dishes in the lobby or entrance way. It does give you some idea of how they prepare and present their items.  Oh, by the way, I tried to locate the whole article by going to the magazine’s web site.  I did not find the piece in question, but there are plenty of other um…… “interesting” articles and..... tips.

A well prepared menu should give you a description of the dish, how it is prepared and what accompanies the “center of the plate” item.  I will admit that some place go overboard with their description (like listing the source of each item), but just a succinct description is all that is required. Should you have any questions, that is what your server should be equipped to answer or go find out (much better than making something up).  A good example (IMHO) would be the typical menu presented at Café Des Artistes over in Leonardtown.  Chef Loic pretty much does it right.  

There is a standard menu that changes only seasonally, but there is also a daily special menu included.  He is very imaginative in his choices for specials, and comes up with some interesting selections.  For instance, they sometimes offer Camel meat for their luncheon burger selections (No, I have not tried it).   Generally the dish is given its French description, followed by an English translation.  After reading French menus a good portion of my life, I can get along quite well about ninety percent of the time with just the French.  Besides the French description is usually much more elegant than the English..  Isn’t L’Escalope de Veau” much better than “Veal Cutlet”, or Le Carré d’Agneau instead of Rack of Lamb.   Anyway there was an entry the other night that brought me up short and had us (sorry) reaching for our smart devices.  Following the French description of a combination of (in English) racks of Lamb and Veal, was: à la printanière.  While there was an English translation, Larousse gives the definition as: “describing various dishes which are garnished with a mixture of vegetables (in theory, spring vegetables), usually tossed in butter”,  which is exactly what they were.. baby carrots, small parsnips, etc.  they were sauced with a nice little almost demi.  Very tasty.

But my point (if there is one in all this) is that Chef Loic is true to his art, and has the integrity to include proper descriptions of his food, with the result we all learn something.  Good for him.  He is a treasure.  Menus can tell you a lot besides what food is available.

And just a couple of somewhat related items, before we close for the day.

Item One:
I got a sent a little article from one of the food service newsletters about a new (to me) and interesting practice of selling “tickets” for a meal.  It is apparently gaining favor at smaller higher end places.  I believe it goes like this:  I call up to reserve a table for four a week from Thursday.  Before they book the reservation, I have to give them a credit card, and they enter a sum of (say) $75 per person.  So a week from Thursday, if we don’t show up (I assume unannounced) we’re out 300 bucks.  I am not sure what happens to the money if we do show up.  It wasn’t clear on that part.  One restaurateur was quoted as saying “We really enjoyed the fact that [customers] didn’t get a bill as the last memory in the restaurant”…Which sounds like a prix fixe arrangement.  Anyway, an interesting concept.

Item Two:

Apparently the now dark Cerro Grande space in Leonardtown will be occupied by “The Rex” a new pub that will serve “comfort food”.  Stay tuned..

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bits and Pieces (BAP)

Fast and furious here lately.. hope you’re keeping up!  trying to stay short.. (i think i failed)

Well, the Eshelman lecture on Wednesday night was very good.  It’s hard to imagine all those steamboats plying the Patuxent, making landings every couple of days like this.  

Steamboat Dorchester at Brome's Wharf
Courtesy of St. Mary's County Historical Society

The whole presentation was videotaped and eventually will be aired on our local Channel 95.  I’ll try to pay attention and if I get some notice I’ll pass it along.  It would be worth an hour of your time if you are at all interested in the history of our fair county.  Mr. Eshelman is one of those natural speakers that is easy to listen to.  ,


So anyway we survived the Deluge of Wednesday, although I must admit that we didn’t get too much rain here at the digs.  The arrival of the front that caused all the flooding havoc up in DC ushered in warmer air, so this morning we got treated to some interesting fog features.  I grabbed the trusty camera and went out in our back yard and took a shot of a growing fog bank just off the end of the Solomons.  While composing the shot, I noticed a bird was coming along so I craftily waited and took what I thought would be an “artsy” shot with the bird in the image (top left center)

But when I downloaded onto computer in preparation for presenting it to you, I first thought “Hey! I got a(nother) spot on my chip”  Then I remembered it was our feathered friend the crow.

In the end, I thought it distracting rather than enhancing so with the magic of Lightroom, I excused the bird for an uncluttered look at the fog bank with the unusual shape

I must admit the fog was more dramatic to the human eye than Canon’s.. Anyway, the fog eventually came in (on little cat feet?) and enveloped the digs for a while.  Always something.


And another always something brings us back to the power poles.   Guess what showed up yesterday?

The way they string the wires between the lovely poles is with a flying machine

That tows a wire, going from pole to pole like some mechanical spider constructing a web, which isn’t far from the truth.  At the end, there is some brave soul up in a bucket to I guess catch the end of the wire.. not for a million bucks would I do that..

Anyway, I guess it’s the American way

Progress, and remember this is for our own good..  Enjoy the view


When we went past our new Golden Corral last night, the (recently paved) parking lot was pretty much filled with cars.  I guess maybe the “opening soon” sign is becoming a fact.  And, I did notice between the opening soon messages is now “training in progress”.  Since the GC has a buffet format, maybe they don’t need speeches like: “Hi I’m….. and I’ll be..; Are ya still werkin’ on that; anything else for you guys; is everything okay?”.  Not sure what duties staff will have..  clearing perhaps, filling water glasses, I’ll never know.  I notice their website lists over 50 items (!) available..


And (finally) lastly, I got some interesting feedback on my little rant about Acronyms the other day.  It was pointed out that I was “Hysterically Hypocritical” in my criticizing the use of acronyms. Well, LOL!  LMAO!, but TBT I think it might be a fair criticism.  I DO use a lot of arcane acronyms, such as MFO, FOJTE, DMOTRWAT, and so forth.  True statement.  But, they always have a purpose.  They are not indiscriminately thrown in for what effect?  Do people really laugh out loud, don’t they ever just chuckle to themselves (CTT)?  Anyway appreciate somebody pointing out the dichotomy.. good point, and keep me on my toes!.  And especially for you