Wednesday, July 30, 2014

nice and not so...

We are having a great run of weather (so far) this week.  You can be outside without coming in bathed in your own bodily fluids..

Well, my efforts in regards to the stuffed ham adventure are now posted on the county’s tourism site.  You can scroll to the bottom and see the heavily retouched version of my visage and then click on latest post and it will guide you to “Ham it Up”, which kind of rambles around about our own stuffed ham.  I think given time and more resources it could turn into an interesting article.  I still would like to know why (if there is a reason) more kale is used north county while cabbage is preferred in the southern part.  Maybe the answer is lost in antiquity, and people would say “we’ve always done it this way” and that would be it.  Food for thought (ha ha) or maybe thought for food!  I’m so glad the tradition is kept alive in the onslaught of the chains that are taking over the county (at least here in Lexington Park north, home of the power poles).

Speaking of which, I see that the old Blockbuster location on three notch road is going to turn into a Popeye’s (and an AT&T store).  Gee, Bottom Feeder, don’t we have one already down on Great Mills road?  Why, yes we do, dear reader, and I can’t tell you (at least yet) if it is relocating or it is mitosis.  I guess the full name of the franchise is “Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen”.  You know, that’s the one whose TV commercials has that obnoxious woman effecting somebody’s idea of a suthin’ drawl, calling us “honey” every other sentence, and sprinkled with “y’all” and divulging cooking secrets like she used fresh black pepper.  Stop the presses!  Has me scrambling for the remote every time.

And I see that the Stoney's Empire is indeed spreading into the Mother County by taking over the old Clarke’s Landing spot on this side of the river.  It will be interesting to see if they can make it a go without depending on tourists on the Solomons.  I’m sorry, I still don’t care for their crab cakes, but it will be nice to have another waterfront dining option available again.

Speaking of which (waterfront dining) we met a friend last night for dinner at the Dry Dock and we sat outside on the porch, an extremely rare (if not non-existent) situation for MFO and the Feeder.  We normally sit at the bar inside, but last night was so nice outside, and that, along with the beautiful soft evening light made for a very pleasurable experience.  We of course lingered and by the time we were about done the place had pretty much cleared out, and Ben the chef actually came out to see if it was me.  I had ordered the blackened chicken and remembered to expunge the asparagus it came with but neglected to say “go light on the spice” so he knew it was me (asparagus aversion) but was perplexed by the lack of direction on the amount of blackening.. So, he figured okay, if that’s what he wants he got it.  As we were leaving he said in the future he would always grill my entrée if it was blackened on the menu..  we also had a very accomplished server who was able to negotiate the trip from the bar, out the door, step down, and get to the table without spilling a drop of my “up” dry Manhattan. I have pretty much given up the “on the rocks” for esthetic and dilution reasons.  Anyway, I don’t think you can beat that for an outdoor experience.  Practically reach the masts of the boats and the breeze in the rigging provides a nice background.

And while I’m being nice, just another one (see I’m being positive today, at least after leaving the chains).  I went for my morning coffee this morning, and when I went to go up the “back stairs” from the parking lot to Starbucks, there was a couple sitting on the top steps with their coffee (and I think smokes) and when I approached them they said “we were just admiring your car”.   What kind is it?  A common question, so I explained about the Hyundai Genesis and they said they had a relative that had either an Elantra or a Sonata and just loved it.  They said mine looked like a Mercedes or Jaguar.  I love my car.

Oh, and speaking of cars, watch for coming news of a change in vehicles for MFO

And if you’re in a nice auto, you can be comfortably


PS lot's of inside buzz about The Rex, the new place in Leonardtown..

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The old catch all "Of this and that"

Wow, I still have to find out where that time goes.. been a week since we've looked at each other, so

here’s a few things that happened in between.

Church food
A week ago yesterday our long time friend from DC came down and we all got lunch from the semi-annual Church Dinner at our local Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Mary’s City.  As you know I am a fan of “church lady” food, but I’ve never had the opportunity to sample theirs.  So we got in the car and did a take out order for the three of us.  They have it down to a science, you drive up, tell guy number one how many you want (no choices), give guy number two your cash, tell kid number one you don’t want to buy desserts, reaffirmed to kid number three, and by the time you get past them, kids numbers four and five give you your bagged up meal. Budda Bing, Budda Bam..  move along.  Since it was a lovely day, we chose to have lunch on the back porch, and it was pretty good.  I really think that all this stuff

did not come from the big silver truck, but is actually made by the “church ladies”, the numbers of which I don’t know.  For your twenty four bucks, you get: Biscuit and pretty tasty ham (top left, sliced, not lunch meat); boiled parsley potatoes; requisite green beans (most likely courtesy of Del Monte – has to be, it’s a tradition); two  hefty pieces of fried chicken; 3 decent sized and tasting crab cakes; and tubs of slaw, pickled beets, applesauce, and cocktail sauce.  Definitely more than one would eat for a lunch and in fact provided another dinner.  Good stuff.

Following lunch, I went up to Waldorf to help take down the Mission of Mercy Dental operation 

nearly 800 patients received dental care from over 80 dentists in two days, all volunteers.  A great community service project.

Hard Foodie Work 
Later in the week, I ventured up to DC to participate in the tasting for this year’s Hospital Gala.  Nirvana for the Bottom Feeder.  Sneak peek at a possible dessert:   

fallen chocolate souffle cake
fudge sauce, vanilla bean ice cream, and fresh berries.

Between the potential apps, first and second courses, and desserts, we were forced to sample about twenty items. Hard, grueling, exacting work, but all in an effort to provide wonderful food for the event in November.  Actually the hard part is saying we’ll take this over that, when in reality they are all very good.  Another good food journey!

More Food Work!
Kind of the rest of the week was (sporadically) spent in preparing the stuff for the August SMC Tourism web site (“Moody Views”).  You will be able to see it soon (if you want), it was sort of an interesting evolution.  I think I showed you the stuffed ham piece from Phyllis Richman a few posts ago, so I thought, “well, I’ll just embellish on that, make a nice little piece about St. Mary’s County stuffed ham, and knock it out”.  Not so fast, oh, Kale breath.  It turns out (I find through diligent research) that virtually every freaking food blogger out there at one point has “discovered” our local delicacy and done a column on it.  Always give a recipe, but what I found interesting was that their explanation for the origins of the dish were all over the place.  One article claimed that notes from none other than George Calvert mentioned it, some said slaves, some went so far as to identify a slave at St. Inigoes manor, and so forth.  So I sort of diverted off in that direction, and although I didn’t solve anything, I think I got a reasonable evolution.  During the course of research I got some photos from MFO at the SMC Historical Society.  Neat stuff, here’s a sample of county resident Ms. Mary Ora Norris displaying her product.

Was a fun exercise.. learned a lot

Another Trip
Its funny about food. You never know where it’s going to take you.  Like above, a simple thought of illustrating stuffed ham took me to England, the Caribbean, St. Mary’s City various districts of the county (Kale north, Cabbage south).  Kind of the same with that waffle/chicken thing.  I spout off on “what the heck is this?” and find I don’t know beans about another traditional dish.  Like I get a note from my friend on the other coast who grew up in Nebraska, saying they had waffles and…..pheasant!  Then I saw a recipe in some food mag (I couldn’t find) that was for waffles and…. Quail!  They're everywhere!! Neat stuff. And the Lay’s potato chips are still awful.  Don’t be tempted.  Not even fit for tuna casserole topping.

The Elements
And lastly weather played a part in my week.  On Thursday we had some pretty healthy storms go through and after they passed they treated us to a beautiful rainbow

I don’t have a wide enough lens to show it, but it was horizon to horizon, and at one point was even double. 

Then yesterday I spent a few hours at the Chapel at Historic St. Mary’s answering questions and giving the history to guests who were interested.  It varies a lot.  It was Tidewater Archeology Weekend there with lots of special events and tours all highlighting the Archeology of the site. Somehow that didn’t translate into higher visitation at the Chapel, although there were quite a few folks at the planned talk by Dr. Henry Miller.  Mercifully, sun stayed above the clouds and it wasn’t awful during the long periods I was alone.  At one point an approaching storm made a pretty sight.

So that is how the week whisked by somehow (anybody seen any of that time going by?).  It’s always something..  FOJTE enjoying life (and wine and food) in Napa, FOJTY enjoying using his new smoker with brisket and pork butt on the way..  Unfortunately neither will deliver so their poor, aging parents are left to fend for ourselves tonight.  Most likely something like dried beans, pantry kind of bare and we don’t want to go out.. BUT, for cocktails we WILL be


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Waffling Around


Well, once again, the Feeder is enlightened and astounded (well, that might be a little too generous) plus a little humbled by the knowledge of the readers.  Just when you think you know something, you get learned.  Many readers responded to my posting about chicken and waffles flavored chips, letting me know that C&W it has been a historically favorite dish in some communities.  So, I did a little scratching around for the history, and as usual, found different stories from different sources.  The same is true for the stuffed ham I am working on also.  One source claims that it was “invented” by one Joe Wells in his Harlem restaurant of the same name in New York, in 1938.  Performers such as Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington would come in for something after their performances, and since it was too late for dinner and too early for breakfast, the imaginative Joe served fried chicken with a side of waffles.

Another source says that after Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron home from France in the late 18th century, waffles became popular, and recipes for C&W began to appear in cookbooks.  Slaves who rarely had a chance to eat chicken, but were familiar with flapjacks and pancakes, considered both chicken with waffles a delicacy.  I even consulted the food historian Michael Twitty who allowed as how “Chicken and Waffles is straight up antebellum South… I don’t care what they say!”

So I go from a bag of chips in the store to learning even more about food traditions.  I am having kind of the same experience while researching the origins of Stuffed Ham.  More on that later.. Oh, by the way, the C&W chips themselves are still bad even if they do hearken back to a legitimate food tradition.


While I was penning (or tapping) the posting before this one, I kept thinking there was something I wanted to mention.  Almost a week later, it finally occurred to me, a situation that happens with more regularity lately.  It grew out of my viewing of the Baseball All Star Game last week.  I am sad to report that the fine art of “hat tipping” appears to be dying.  I don’t know how many players and managers there were on both teams, but only the St. Louis Cardinal team seemed to be keeping the tradition alive.  The classic hat tipping technique is when the player curls his forefinger slightly over the brim of the hat, second knuckle lightly cradling it, just past the eye, and puts the thumb underneath, and then WITHOUT moving the hat, slightly moving the hand in a quick downward motion.  That’s it.  Simple, honoring the uniform you’re wearing, and just a humble acknowledgement of the crowd's applause.   It is NOT tipping the whole thing back, or (God forbid) removing the hat entirely and waving it over your head, in a cheap “look at me!!” gesture and letting us see your hair (or lack thereof).   Tacky and a rookie move.

And, speaking of hitting balls with something, I watched the final round of the British Open (or, more properly, “The Open Championship”) this morning.    Even though Rory McIlroy had six strokes in his pocket this morning, it turned out to be a close finish with Sergio and Rickey Fowler nipping at his heels.  Rory now has three of the four Majors in his trophy case, and the drama will heighten as we build toward next year’s Master’s in Augusta.  In this day of athletes getting arrested for this and that, or succumbing to addiction of various substances, it is so nice to see somebody who smiles as he plays, and is fresh and candid in interviews.  And this year, despite all the Tiger hype and adoration by ESPN, it was pleasurable to watch a tournament where we didn’t have to watch every routine chip of somebody ten strokes off the pace.  Tiger was pretty much off the course before, or shortly after, Rory teed off.  Phil never really threatened either.  Rory's mother was there and he gave her a big hug.  Sweet kid.  I hope success doesn't destroy him.  I have hopes it won't.  It was also a bit sad to see Sergio fall short again, as the monkey grows larger on his back.  Great stuff..


And veering back to food for a closing note, I got my favorite issue of almost my favorite magazine this week, the Southern Food Issue of Garden and Gun.  The cover photo is of a country breakfast featuring a lovely slice of country fried ham, grilled fingerling potatoes, sliced (probably heirloom) tomatoes, and topped by two gorgeous fried eggs (which I could never hope to duplicate).  I’m sure the result of careful food styling but it looks good.  Have not had the time to (too easy) digest the issue yet, but notice there is a piece on whether you like okra or filé as a thickening agent in your gumbo, plus articles by John T. Edge and the Lee Brothers.  Maybe they could give some insight into Chicken and Waffles.  Meanwhile, I remain


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chips Ahoy...

You got to give those smart guys at the snack companies credit.  They’re always thinking.  

Maybe the king of snacks is the once humble potato chip (or crisps, depending on your location) which has been around since the mid nineteenth century.  Don’t know if you notice these things as I do, but there is an astonishing number of people who make them.  Gourmet, plain, wavy, baked (bad, bad), brown russets, thick cut, kettle cooked, the styles are endless.  And on top of that is the flavors.  Almost anything you can think of is made by somebody.  As testimony, one of my recent favorites is the “Dill Pickle” flavor by the Lay’s people.  Sounds bad, tastes good.  Speaking of Lay’s they recently (months ago) launched a “win a million bucks” campaign, asking consumers to submit ideas for a flavor.  When we were in Giant the other day, I spied a bag that announced the winner.  A Karen Weber – Mendham got the $1M, and will spend it on “college and braces for the kids.. then maybe some shoes for me”.  How cute.  Still a million is a million.  All because she came up with the suggestion of “Cheesy Garlic Bread”.  Naturally we had to get a bag, and since they were having a special of two for one we got another newcomer, Chicken and Waffles (!!)..

Cheesy Garlic Bread I can fathom, but how they came up with the Chicken and Waffles baffles me.  I think I am reasonably up on food culture, and for the life of me I don’t think I know of any traditional link between the two.  Since the picture shows fried chicken, I would guess that maybe it would be from the “south”.  Waffle houses began in the south, so there is maybe a link somehow there.  I have never eaten in one, but anyway.

As for the taste test, the Cheesy weren’t too bad and in fact MFO really liked them.  On the other hand (or mouth) the Waffle variety are (IMHO) really BAD!.  The waffle flavor comes through big time, but neither of us could get any hint of chicken.  And like their namesake, they were quite sweet.  The ones in the picture are from that bag.  The color is sort of off putting.. no more bags for us.  yuck. 

And yes, dear readers, I know that potato chips are not the best for you.. but they pair well (ha ha) with certain items…

Technology marches on

I think I mentioned that I have acquired a new tablet/laptop since the hard drive in this cumbersome laptop appears to be on its last legs.  The new Lenovo weighs but a fraction of this beast and I thought it would be my travel preference to handle the wonderful pictures I take while on the journey.  Accordingly I loaded the photo processing software on it with some help from a more savvy friend, and after the requisite amount of hassle it installed.  Well, in messing around with it, I found a curiosity that a certain amount of existing files would not load correctly.  Don’t need to go into the details here, but began to try to troubleshoot.  Finally I threw up my hands and tried to get on an Adobe site to ask a question.  I got in an endless loop of “need to register” and finally quit in frustration.  

Yesterday with the help of “get a human”, I finally got a phone number and called up.  Eventually, after a series of “for….press one, two, five, etc.” I was told an agent would be with me in 3 to 4 minutes.  After 30 of them, a person did come on the line. It was apparent that I was dealing with an “off shore” facility and then after proving who I was and a series of “excuse me? Could you repeat that?” exchanges, I explained what my problem was.  The person I was speaking with (not necessarily communicating) finally said I had to talk to somebody in the photography department..  Gee, you think?  

After another pause I was speaking to Sangeeta.  And although I am sounding snarky, she spent the better part of two hours sharing my desktop, changing this, changing that, she was really nice and patient with me.  During the lulls waiting for the electrons to move, I found out that yes, she was in India, it was two o’clock in the morning there, and she works from five thirty pm to about three five days a week.  She likes it, and agreed it was a bit hard on the social life.  I opted not to ask her age.  Anyway, she did everything she knew how (I think she did know LIghtroom) and in the end was unable to fix the problem.  She said it would have to be passed up the line, and I will get a call within the next 48 hours with the solution.  I am hopeful.  Adobe seems to be a pretty considerate company, and I have to thank Sangeeta for her efforts. 

At one point because she was browsing through my catalog, she remarked that “you have a lot of pictures of food!”, which engendered a short conversation about being a food blogger, etc.  We never did get to considering being


Monday, July 14, 2014

keep on buzzing...

A couple of notes that didn’t get in the previous “buzz” report.

Did you see there was a picture in our newspaper probably a week ago showing all the local pols lined up with the big scissors cutting a ribbon on our new Sonic?  Great!  Let’s publicize all the chains we can..  C’mon down to Lexington Park.. we’re the place with all the power poles that blend into the horizon..

And in yet another advance for our little complex next to the Golden Corral that welcomes you to our subdivision, there is a new customer moving into the “Twist” building.  It is called VAPOR99.  

Well, you might ask (as I did) what the heck is that?  I had to go to my sort of “go to” guy of pop culture and what’s going on, and come to find out it is what is called a “vape store”.  Well, you might ask (as I did) what the heck is that?   Turns out it is a store that supports electronic cigarettes and paraphernalia:  “Our shop offers electronic cigarettes, vaping liquids, and other related merchandise”.  There comes a point in your life that you begin to feel “out of it”..  Voila!  Apparently Lafayette, we are here..

I continue to enjoy Tom Sietsema’s food reviews in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine.  Believe me, it is not easy to churn those things out every week and remain fresh and interesting (a condition most readers are probably all too familiar with).  I like his style and perspective.  He started out a review of “Thally” in the 6 July issue with the following:  “Are you tired of sliders and carpaccio and cooks (italics mine) who would rather be mugging on the Food Network than making your dinner?”.  Couldn’t agree more, Tom.    A little further on he mentions that Ron Tanaka (chef – with a resume including CityZen, Palena, and Citronelle)  “thinks food should be secondary to bringing people together around a table”.   According to the review, Ron doesn’t have that problem.  Tom gives the place two and a half stars.  Anyway, my point is that Mr. Sietsema seems to have the right idea.  Wonder what he thinks about


ps my (now un) trusty laptop apparently gave up the hard drive ghost, so now i am struggling trying to adapt with my "new" lenovo, which is far from intuitive..

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Buzzing around Locally

Happy weekend!!  More restaurant buzz, this time a little closer to home.  To paraphrase Yogi a bit, you can hear a lot just by listening..  It is interesting what you hear in groups when the topic turns to food..

I was at a small gathering last night which was attended by some folks that were: a) young(er), and b) relatively new to the county (I surmised).  Anyway at one point restaurants came up and this couple said that they had found a “new place” down by Ridge, called “Curtney’s” or something.  They were quickly corrected to Courtney’s, but they went on to describe the place and how when they came in somebody was asleep and had to be awakened to serve them.  Yup, they got the right place.  Anyhow they went on to say it was some of the best seafood they have had down here.  Just was surprised that there was somebody who had never heard of our iconic Courtney’s.

At the same party, somebody said they didn’t much like the “new" Lighthouse, but mostly because of the layout, not the food..Feeder has still not visited.

Other snippets gathered from various sources, with the caveat that in the restaurant/food service business, nothing is ever certain…

The Stoney’s empire may expand to this side of the Patuxent, and move into the “old“ Clarke’s Landing, vacated when the “old” team moved into the “new” Lighthouse.

The Solomons Island Yachting Center (in behind the Star of the Sea Church) may becoming involved in (yet another) resurrection of DiGiovanni’s.

Somebody at that gathering mentioned above said that they thought St. James Pub was reopened…  have sent a note to a stringer who might actually know. Break break, who just replied and said that it is NOT open..

Charles Street Brasserie (Harbor Lights/Sounds – Solomons) – from their facebook page of July 9:   “Charles Street Brasserie is Proud to introduce Executive Chef Carl Cooksey and Head Chef Jimmy Lazzero! (photo embedded) These two Chefs have created a menu that infuses a Latin/Mediterranean influence with a Southern Maryland twist. Their unique and creative dishes promise to give Charles Street Brasserie's dinners an off the hook experience. Watch for our pre-opening announcements in just a few days!”  A post from the 10th has an interior shot.

The Beer Cave (in the Sunoco station) on Piney Point Road is upgrading its supply of beer, wine, and spirits, claiming they will “offer every quality brand out there” of small batch Bourbon and Whisky.  They also offer fishing equipment and ammunition..

The Rex has put up a sign on the space in Leonardtown.

The other day after a visit to St. Mary’s County Historical Society to do research on Stuffed Ham (a long story, to be related later) we decided on taking lunch at Café Des Artistes.  It continues to be an oasis in the middle of the day for a leisurely lunch of reliably good food.  On the day we visited (I think Wednesday) there were many, many, people who had the same idea and by the time we left, I think it was full, and we saw lots of friends. 

I pondered the menu for a long time, and finally decided Damn it, I’m going for it!  Only (?) on Wednesdays (“Hump day”), they have Camel Burger on the menu.  Chef Loic always has interesting Plat du Jours, and despite plans to try the Burger (in the name of Feeder Research) I somehow always divert at the last minute.  Well, not this time.  While MFO had the always reliable La  Poitrine de Poulet au Crabe (figure it out), I boldy went for the Burger (and was told that it sort of “came” medium rare) and was topped with “Creamy Swiss and a caramelized onion & bacon aioli”.  Of the three side options (salad, soup du jour, fries) I chose the soup which was a creamy squash and spinach. Which turned out to be quite attractive, and the soup was very good (as always)

Apparently Camel meat is consumed in Australia and Dubai (where burgers are characterized as a “new sensation”) and some Muslim communities.  However, I have done my duty as a food critic, and I am pretty sure that is my last Camel Burger.  Given a choice for burgers, I would opt for beef if available.  I’m sure there are cultural factors at work here, but I thought the Camel meat was a bit “chewy”, and lacked fat content making it kind of dry (which was helped by the toppings).  It also seemed to me to have kind of an aftertaste to it.  Like anything else, you should give it a try sometime and see what you think, and thanks to the Café for giving us options not available elsewhere..

Okay, enough of bending your ear, I gotta go mow the lawn.

DFD (to the gentleman with sleeveless T shirt and extensive body art)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Reader's Voice is heard...

First of all, thanks to everybody who took the time to wish MFO a speedy recovery from her hand surgery.  It must have worked because the pain is diminishing every day, and she is able to do a few things.  However, somehow she apparently has strict doctor’s orders to NOT do any dishes for quite some time.  I need to check the internet about this regimen..

Anyway on to other things, like food.  Most Feeder Reeders know that I get a slew of food magazines of varying complexity, from Southern Living to Art of Eating. This month I got an unexpected new entry in the form of good old Consumer Reports, that bastion of recommending some esoteric make and model of a washer that out performs anything you can actually find.  They also occasionally rear up and laud things like “two buck chuck”, claiming that their $7.95 bottle of wine is comparable to a first growth Bordeaux. 

Anyway I was intrigued to see the cover story was: “America’s Best Fast Food (and the worst)” always trading on American’s obsession with what is “Best”.  I guess they don’t know the trendy term nowadays is not “fast” but “quick service” food.  Supposedly the ratings are the result of “96,208 meals at 65 chains”; not 96,209 or 207 mind you, but exactly 96,208 meals. The results are reported by bunch of little tables headed by: if you want… Healthful Choices; Regional Gems; Top Service; Clean Surroundings, and so forth followed by a list of “favorites”.  I was a little surprised to see Subway head the “healthful” group (with White Castle at the bottom), Chick-fil-A leads the top service category as well as clean surroundings, with KFC being the anchor of that category.  Regional gems included Burgerville (?), that cult favorite In-N-out” and Portillo’s Hot Dogs.  They also list “taste champs” for Burgers, Sandwiches and Subs, Chicken, and Burritos.  The Habit Burger Grill topped all 21 places for burgers; with good old McDonald’s in 21st place. Hey! Let’s go check out that Habit Burger Grill!  Well, your choices are the one in New Jersey or the other one in Utah.  Good job Consumer reports!! Chick-fil-A bested 7 others for chicken with again the Colonel at the bottom.

Finally, they rate 70 “restaurants” grouped by burgers, pizza, sandwich, chicken, Mexican, and Asian food chains;  Burgers go from top rated In-N-out to McDonalds;  Pizza: Pappa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake (nearest location—Kansas) to Sbarro; Sandwich: Portillo’s Hot Dogs (don’t think outside of Illinois) to Au Bon Pain; Chicken: Chick-fil-A to KFC; Mexican: Pablo’s Fresh Mexican Grill (Cedar Falls, IA), Chipolte second, Taco Bell last.  Kind of interesting reading.  America’s love of that kind of food never flags..

Who had the....

Another publication which I really enjoy comes from St. Louis, called “Sauce” magazine.  It’s free in St. Louis, but for a fee they will mail it to you.  If you are in St. Louis, I would recommend it – a good source of comings, goings, and reviews.  It gives me a chance to stay a little current with dining there, so when we make a visit we have a little knowledge.  It also doesn’t hurt that both FOJ’s have pretty accomplished palates either.  Anyway, there were a couple of items in the latest issue that kind of caught my eye.  Or rather gave me a little poke in it.  Interestingly enough, part of the issue was devoted to “Reader’s Choice”

Poke one:  there is a new place in Clayton occupying the now shuttered Chez Louis spot called “TheLibertine”.  A small review carries the title “Favorite New Restaurant”.  The requisite food shot is of a dish called “Three Little Birds”, which although apparently adjusted seasonally is their trademark entrée.  Now, as readers are aware, I do like what some might consider froo – froo food with elegant presentations, combinations of flavors, but darn it, sometimes it can be overdone.  Although rather lengthy, I am going to quote the description of the Three Little Birds:  the dish exhibits.. “the classic elegance of fowl, whimsically reinvented and roasted to perfection.  Chicken, quail, and Cornish hen are deboned, brined, stacked in layers, and finally topped with morsels of dark meat (from which fowl is not mentioned).  The succulent casserole is gently CVapped for several hours, which caramelizes the crispy skin before the Three Little Birds are laid to rest (interesting phrase) upon a bed of tangy, old-school Carolina Gold rice middlins, cooked with milk and pecorino.  The ensemble is finished with a sauté of local, seasonal vegetables…”.  I suppose the dish might taste okay, but I would doubt in a blind tasting one could distinguish the chicken from the quail from the Cornish hen..  According to their menu, it is priced at twenty one dollars.  A lot of labor apparently goes into the dish, a bit surprised at that price point.  This is how they describe themselves: “The Libertine is a re-imagined neighborhood eatery that serves (sic) accesible yet ingredient driven food to the surrounding community and beyond.” Well, the place is located in posh downtown Clayton, full of high rises and expensive condos, so “neighborhood eatery” is a bit of a stretch IMHO.  It kind of gives me a little feeling of pretentiousness.  BUT, I have not dined there.  I might assign FOJTE the task of doing a stringer report for me (on his nickel of course!).

Poke two:  now a bit agitated, I kept turning pages until I came to a similar type article on readers “Favorite Cajun/Creole: Broadway Oyster Bar”.  I don’t argue with the choice, just the content of the article.  It was couched as a series of questions to, and responses from, their staff.  “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a customer do?” (eat a whole bucket of crawfish, heads, tails, shells and all), and so on. Then I came to this: “Why is it hard to be a server here”?  Answer by Bridgeman:  “When you try to (serve) the food, and no one responds to you.  You ask: “who had the jambalaya?” and nobody knows what they ordered”.  Excuse me???? What??  A SERVER, who is employed by the restaurant, depends on the customers to tell HIM what they ordered??  Who took the order?  What?, exactly, is your job?  You’re fired. There are schemes for keeping track… “blue sweater wants jambalaya, and on around the table..  or some position at the table is seat one, etc. I don’t think it is hard.  Even if there are runners, a responsible restaurant has to be able to get the correct dish to the right guest.  Awful.. That behavior is right up there with “are ya still werkin’ on thaaat dearie?”  Arggh..  Read that a couple of days ago and am still “werked” up on that..

And so goes the battle for decency and reason in the food world where we are all


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Surgery and Soccer

9:30 am---
Well, here I sit in a waiting room while MFO is having her painful arthritic finger “repaired” allegedly to alleviate the
pain.  We've been through the pages of forms, affixing multiple signatures which I assume removes any trace of responsibility from the medical folks.  She has been “back there” for over an hour, and I have no idea what is going on.  So, I sit and wait (and use my new pad device).

Which gives me a chance to comment on the performance of the USA soccer team yesterday.  I am of two minds on this.  On one hand (note the mixed metaphor) I would have like to see the US team advance in the tournament.  One, it would help promote the interest in soccer, and secondly, to provide revenue for bars and gathering places for the “watch” parties.  As I reported earlier I watched the game with Germany in a local watering hole, and it was quite fun.  I watched yesterday’s match against Belgium (home of Hercule Poirot and waffles) at home by myself.  Not so fun.
And on the other foot (to keep the mixed theme going), and please give me some slack here, I was not unhappy to see them lose.  Everywhere else in the world soccer, also known as futbol, is the most popular sport (hockey in Canada maybe) and all the best athletes play that sport as opposed to here in America where our athletes aspire to (our) football, baseball, and basketball.  Then, every four years, we cobble together a World Cup “American” team (what the eligibility requirements are I have no idea) and we go play soccer/futbol with the rest of the world.  As I have often mentioned before, it seems to be a trait of Americans that they have to be “the best” or “number one”.  So there appears to be an expectation that we should win the World Cup just because we are Americans.  Of course we will win!  We deserve it!!

Look at the furor created by the United States coach when he said it was unrealistic (break, break, at 10:30 I am being forced to listen to Rachel Ray here in the waiting room, where the audience just wildly applauded the fact she uses tomato paste in a tube!) to expect us to win the Cup.  How dare he say that!!  He since has equivocated that statement a bit, but as of today, he looks justified.  Getting past group play with a one, one, and one record by some last minute miracles (not on ice this time) was a good accomplishment and we can be proud of that.  We did suffer from losing one of our best players to a hammy, and perhaps another left off the team for some reason, but it was clear (to me) that our players were not as talented as the other team.  A notable exception was our goal keeper Tim Howard.  If it wasn’t for his phenomenal performance yesterday, I think Belgium would have beaten us by five or six goals.  Goal keeper aside, it was apparent that although they played their butts off,  we are just not in Belgium’s class. But in general soccer is a team sport and I personally like to see good team play rewarded.  With or without us, this particular tournament provided some thrilling moments and high drama.  And, as I said before just seeing the people in the stands is so entertaining.  For two/three weeks, the world stops (kind of) and we all enjoy watching athletes control a ball with their feet and head making it do marvelous things.  Good for us all.

Okay, so after three and a half hours, Doctor T comes out and says things went well with MFO’s hand and explained what he did with wires and fusings and such.  And in a little more time one of those eternally happy and perky nurses comes and gets me and we go to the inner sanctum where MFO is installed with more tubes, wires, and sensors hooked to wall mounted things that beep and chirp.  And why the nurses have to squeak I have no idea.  “how are we doing dearie?”  I know they mean well and indeed do a good job, but gosh a couple of octaves lower would be much appreciated.

Anyway, we’re back home and the hard part begins, wherein the Feeder gets to do household chores for a while.  “Hi sweetie, I’m nurse Feeder and I’ll be taking care of you!”  Not sure how we’ll handle being