Wednesday, December 28, 2016

progress report

Need to catch up on the STL dining, but now that we’re in KC, first a photo essay.. Sparing you most of  the words…  just maybe captions

Anthony Bourdain says you must eat at Joe's Kansas City BBQ before you die, in the original Gas Station location

First you stand in line outside, which is sometimes around the building
Then you go inside

stand in more lines, but there are interesting people
Note the T shirt.

While waiting you may notice the many local sauces for purchase

  while they work on your selections
 Upon recommendation, I got a "Z man"
consisting of brisket, onion rings, provolone, pickles  

Amazing meat,  then another BBQ place we visited today  was

where we got some "Burnt Ends" (of a trimmed brisket..)
On the way home, we visited another local spot with FOJTY leading the way
for tonight's final dinner
of some KC strips
which are currently being treated on the Big Green Egg.

and since we're in FOJTY's house, and we're preparing for tomorrow's launch for home we are kind of not


again, "doing" takes the place of "reporting" 
more to come

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Greetings from Spring Hill Suites in Earth City, Missouri!

I suppose it’s a sign of older age, but I really enjoy traveling at this time of the year during winter months when the leaves are off the trees, and the colors are shades of beige, brown, tan and black of winter trees.  So, I really looked forward to our journey from the digs to STL, site of Christmas I at FOJTE’s.   Plus, MFO does all the driving, so I am the right seater, mostly responsible for navigation and capturing images that catch my eye..  Before going on, most (all) of the images are taken on the fly through the car window, so sharpness and focus is mostly compromised, but after all they are not “art”, only to document the journey, and to be honest, a lot are the same as I have taken in years past.  After all, when you travel the same route every year for twenty odd years, you get to see familiar scenes. 

Anyway, here are some (many) grabbed images along the way for the first two days.  I am going to try a little different approach, and show you by categories, rather than just chronological. 

One of the things that are always interest me are the buildings you see along the way.

When I looked at the above, I thought “well, I can crop out that sign” but the more I looked at it, the more I thought it kind of fit, so I left it.  what do you think?

When we left Lexington (our first night out) there was fog and high moisture which gave some of the trees a coating of frost and cold enough to freeze the water

Later on, we had many spectators

And with early and late light, power plants always provide nice shots

Pop Quiz: What city is this?

And this?  (hint: a big deal basketball game took place there that evening)

Zoning gone mad at a gas stop in Illinois

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs:

So finally after over 580 miles in two days on the road….We saw the familiar gateway to the west

And on the way to the Suites, we passed another sign that reminded us of the road to our first house in STL

And just before checking in we saw the now dark practice field for the team that used to call it home

Okay, so much for the journey..

Since our arrival, we’ve had three excellent meals (with a fourth on the docket for tonight)
… that will form the basis for the next edition!

And so I wish all a happy Christmas eve or first day of Hanukah, and to honor the season you absolutely have to be


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Checking In

Made it okay, most comm during transit from Maryland was by Facebook...  Too hard to do this on the road..

Just a couple of notes.   I divulged that our road food normally consists of McDonalds to go for convenience and limiting time for stopping.   I got some (deserved) crap for eating (in some peoples minds) that crap. I put a rather long discourse on Facebook as to why, and reiterated that i do not eat (and won't) in chains other than this circumstance.  Standards have not been compromised!!

We've started the local whirl with a lunch at a club here in STL with our financial guy, a long standing tradition.  Our business meeting before lunch confirmed that we could afford lunch and the occasional fling.  Tonight we're doing dinner with FOJTE at "The Crossings" on Forsyth in Clayton. Am looking forward and am just about to DFD for that..

A funny instance today...  We carefully plan our packing for the journey and generally lay out the clothes we intend to travel in the MOMSTER in.  I had laid out a pair of "wash pants", but at the last moment before leaving Tuesday I forsook the pants for a more comfortable pair of sweats.

So, today when we got ready for our luncheon date, I donned a shirt, sweater, and pair of dress slacks, and....... discovered that the belt for same had stayed in St. Louis!  So, with thumb in belt loop to keep pants above ankles, we diverted to a nearby Kohl's and purchased a substitute.  Thereby was able to use both hands to eat..  Best laid plans,, etc.

well time to go get


Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas traveling and a bail out...

Well, Christmas is approaching, and as sure as it does, out come the suitcases to be (gradually) filled with duds.

Yes, we’re beginning to stage for the Nth (15th?, 16? I lose track) journey to the FOJ’s now located in St. Louis (TE) and Overland Park KS (TY).   Adds a bit of logistic planning to the operation but at least it’s something different.  And, when it comes to logistics, MFO is in her element.  Reservations in work, planning for celebrations, dinners, that sort of thing.   And, speaking of logistics MFO is also a talented “gift wrapper” setting up her workshop with tools of the trade sometime after Thanksgiving

And gradually filling boxes with beautifully wrapped gifts

All of which will eventually carefully (“Watch that bow!!!”) loaded into the MOMSTER for the trip.    As far as the other holiday trappings we got the “stocking hung by the chimney with care” box checked

Although now just the Feeder's and MFO's…

And she has decorated our “display case” with a wonderful holiday scene

We leave next Tuesday (20th) to be gone until just before the New Year.

And, as usual it seems, all the flurry of activity has launched a nasty cold that we’re sharing..  and while we’re dipping into medical, I have postponed my Lasik surgery due to same cold, but I’m not terribly disappointed, it’s just another straw off my back.  Next year..

You know, I slave over the food recipes, reviews, making blogs, and so forth but I got a lot of positive feedback on my recent rant about silly commercials…  Thank You!   and before I leave that subject, there is one more that has appeared, again due to the pundits from Lexus.  I don’t get their philosophy…  maybe you've seen it, it’s kind of a role reversal thing, opening with a shot of the young boy and girl (of course - the perfect family)  sleeping quietly, all tucked in their beds with obviously first light barely coming in the windows..  and BOOM!  “Mom” breaks into the room screaming like a banshee:  “C’mon, c’mon.. it’s Christmas!!” and begins to bound down the stairs like a four year old, followed by an equally silly “Dad”  By the way, the house is obviously not  a bungalow, but more of a McMansion.  So sleepy young girl nudges bro, and says “oh, they’re so excited….I’ll go make the cocoa”  Now we cut to the driveway with again Mom shrieking “we got it, we got it… Thank you santa!!” bouncing around like an idiot in her bathrobe in the driveway…  Cut back to sophisticated looking kids at the doorstep, holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and daughter says solemnly and wistfully “you know, just seeing the look on their faces makes it all worthwhile, they're so cute!”..   I would beware of any Lexus driver you encounter, it might be demented “mom”.  Sheesh..

And now the bail out part….  

I don’t have any real restaurant related stuff (except noted that the “Ale House” or whatever it’s called in Lexington Park is open).   So I thought I would include a recipe for the Salmon Rillettes MFO made for our thanksgiving gathering.  They are quite good appetizers, and probably worth the effort for a festive gathering .

(Cut and paste screwed up the formatting a bit, but i think you can figure it out - if you're really interested email me and i can send you the word document)

Salmon Rillettes

Serves 6
Active: 40 Minutes; Total 1 Hour
(plus overnight resting)

Made with both smoked and cooked fish for textural contrast, salmon rillettes became a New Year’s staple once I discovered that my husband wasn’t the only non-oyster eater among us. Pack into jars the night before entertaining – the flavors will improve with time.
(Dorie Greenspan)

2          Scallions, white and light green part minced, dark     green parts reserved
1          Lemon
½         Cup dry white wine
8          oz. salmon fillet (preferably wild Alaskan), skin and bones removed
2          Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1          Small shallot, minced, rinsed and dried
            Freshly ground black pepper
¼         lb. smoked salmon, cut into thin strips or small squares
¼         cup mayonnaise [Dukes preferred by Carol Moody]
2          Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard [Maille preferred by Carol Moody]
1          Tbsp. capers, rinsed, patted dry, and finely chopped
½         tsp. honey
2          Tbsp. minced dill [Dried Dill weed used thanksgiving 2016; same quantity]
1          Tbsp. minced cilantro
            Crackers or sliced baguette, for serving

1.     Toss the dark scallion parts into a medium saucepan with a thin slice of lemon.  Add the wine, ½ cup cold water, and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil.  Add the salmon fillet; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat; set aside (covered) for 10 minutes.  Transfer the salmon to a plate and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 1 day (cover if refrigerating overnight.  Discard the cooking liquid.

2.     In a medium bowl, beat the butter with a flexible spatula until spreadable.  Add the grated zest of the lemon, the juice from half the lemon, the minced scallions, shallot, a pinch of salt, and 2 pinches black pepper; stir thoroughly.  Stir in the smoked salmon.

3.     In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, capers, honey, 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice, and a pinch of black pepper; add to the smoked salmon mixture. Stir well to combine.

4.     Remove the cooked salmon from the fridge, and cut into bite sized pieces.  Gently stir into the smoked salmon mixture, keeping the pieces as chunky as possible. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed. Fold in the chopped dill and cilantro

5.     Transfer the rillettes to a serving bowl or jar.  Serve immediately, or preferably cover and refrigerate 6 hours up to 3 days.  Serve with sliced baguette or crackers.

Dec/January 2017 Saveur Magazine; Issue No. 186
“This Year in Paris”; pg. 113

They are worth the effort. Will try to touch base before launch, but am lugging the laptop so I can blog along the way…

Enjoy the Rillettes while you are


late breaking good news story.... This morning when I was walking by the basement I heard a strange (and unfamiliar) noise emanating from the furnace.. Of course I am super sensitive to that kind of thing and immediately panic.  With this Volar Portex in sway, the system had switched from heat pump operation over to (propane) gas.  With a ten or so day absence in the offing, I didn't want to leave a gas device on it's own.  So, I called our HVAC guy, Bobby Tennyson (used to be and independent Tennyson Heating and Cooling, now a "one hour" franchisee).  I pleaded my case, and he said he would come and look at it.  Despite being swamped he was here within an hour or so.  Fortunately the "noise" repeated, and he said that it was a bearing in a motor, and was common in systems our age, and he's "heard a lot worse".  So another benefit of living in a small(ish) town.  All about relationships.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cheerful (?) Rant...

Each day draws us nearer to Christmas..  There are things I like, and things I don’t like.  


Being with family, looking at decorations, enjoying good food and drink, trying to relax, opening gifts, getting letters from people you never see all year telling you how their children are going to medical school, or leading their class in law school, or… wait a minute, did I leave the “like” category?   Well, not quite, it is nice to hear from them once a year…  so, disposing of that, I’ll move to the other category where I’m more comfortable..

Don’t Like:

Being a sedentary beast by nature, I end up watching a lot of television mostly revolving around sports.  This is where the marketing folks seize the season presenting us with silly stuff during commercials about…


I was going to go off on cars with bows on them, but due to my offhand comment yesterday I did get a couple of notes from people who actually did know of, or get cars with bows.  One reader got her first car that way, and it holds a special place in her memory banks.  Nice.

But, have you seen the series where moronic parents who sneakily coach their kids who are sitting in “Santa’s” lap to say they want a Lexus with so many cubic inches, this option, that option, while the kid looks terribly uneasy trying to repeat sneaky dad? Disgusting. Or the one where “mom” grabs the crayon out of daughter’s hand and emulates kid elementary writing, begging Santa asking the same stuff.  Really?  A six year old asking Santa for a CAR??  Cut to next morning to their driveway, where smug self satisfied adults act surprised that the car is there?  Who the hell paid for it?   Oh, by the way, there’s Mom, Dad, a boy and a girl, the perfect family..


A nice piece of (tasteful) jewelry does make a nice present.   According to TV, apparently the paragon of high end thoughtfulness is: “HE went to Jaaaaaaredddd!!!”  OMG, what a discerning spouse, worshiping at the McDonalds or Walmart of Jewelry.  Diamonds from $12.99!  Or the moon-eyed couple clutching, and murmuring: “every kiss begins with K”; pushing Kay’s jewelers, found in every mall in America.  Then there’s this commercial with some guy claiming to be a crafter of jewelry for decades, who now is gracing us with his creations at Kay’s..  Van Cleef and Arpels?   Tiffany?  De Beers? Piaget?   Naaahhh… lets go to the mall.

A social commentary on another commercial:

There’s dad sitting with daughter, he’s cuddling and reading her a story apparently about whales, and daughter lovingly asks dad: “How much does a blue whale weigh?”  Instead of answering, dad addresses a lump on the counter, and says “OK Google, how much does a blue whale weigh”?  who cheerily responds “A blue whale weighs between.. X and Y pounds";  then daughter asks dad: “what does a blue whale sound like?”  again, dad bails out and says “Ok Google… etc.”

I think daughter should say:  “OK google eliminate dad!” and then Google takes over the house.  I am slightly worried about this trend, it seems that “OK  google…(play a lullaby or something)” is the beginning of the end of the American family where members change allegiance from parents to ..“OK google” . 

Whew, I’ll try to behave.

Happy Holidays



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

holidaze await...

Wow.  Fast away the old year passes..

Just a couple of things.. I had intended three subjects but due to the brilliant writing of the Feeder, the intended rant on commercialization of Christmas will have to wait..

Food (short) another La Rive (I can’t stop!)

And this will probably be the last La Rive for a while.  MFO and I joined some friends for dinner a while ago.   Alert readers may remember that earlier I said I had a dish I had never experienced before.   On the evening we went, there was an “Octopus” salad among the first course selections.  I envisioned the little deep fried ones you occasionally get in dishes like fritto misto, so I ordered it up.  Well, when it arrived at the table it was quite a surprise

Quite the presentation. Never having had that particular style of octopus I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  While innovative visually, I have to admit that I found them a bit chewy and not overly flavorful.

On the other hand (or tentacle) my main dish of crispy Duck Confit was quite nice, classically prepared

Anyway, it’s nice to see new items appearing on the menu.  People still seem unsettled about the place.

Holiday Music

Last weekend, we journeyed up the road to attend a concert in the Basilica in DC, properly known as the “Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception… The shrine is the largest Catholic church in the United States and North America, one of the ten largest churches in the world, and the tallest habitable building in Washington D.C. Construction of this church, notable for its Neo-Byzantine architecture, began in 1920 under Philadelphia contractor John McShain. It opened unfinished in 1959. An estimated one million pilgrims visit the basilica each year.”

For those of you unfamiliar here is a (borrowed) picture

Note that this is NOT the National Cathedral. Which is currently under seemingly endless repair, rivaled only by the Washington Monument.

Anyway, each year the Chamber Choir from the Catholic University of America in Conjunction with the Choir of the Basilica put on a Christmas Concert for Charity, free to the public but with a chance to donate (through baskets on a pole) and the “proceeds” go to a designated charity, this year the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. 

It is a very popular event and people arrive quite early to get a “good seat”, although it is of dubious value since even if you’re in front, you are quite a distance from the singers.

It is video taped for showing on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) so you can see the “boom” in front, which became intrusive at times

Eventually the place filled up

And the concert began, first with the Catholic University Choir, then the Basilica choir, then the combined choirs. Mostly sacred music, sung sometimes in original Latin, sometimes in German, but they did include some traditional Christmas Carols like "Joy to the World" and the audience were invited (stand and) to join in.  The knees appreciated the chance to flex, as well as the backside getting relief from the solid wooden pews.

Although this is not my favorite form of music, 200 voices singing praises to the Lord is indeed impressive, especially in such a setting. 

The concert ended with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.   Welcome to the season.

Sidebar Review (which got longer the more I typed)…

We decided to stay over rather than drive home after the concert.  There is a new Hyatt property near our friend’s place and so we decided to stay there (he was kind enough to drive for the evening).  Most readers know we prefer Marriott facilities, and unfortunately this experience did nothing to shake that loyalty.  It’s a weird hotel; the lobby is on the third floor for instance.   The rooms are very nice,

I kept being unsettled by that combination of art

and the windows afford interesting views of the neighborhood…

And allow clever artsy shots

The hotel has been open a year but still have some edges to hone (at least in our one time experience).   For instance, they don’t have traditional room service (cost saving?)… you have to call in your order and then go pick it up.  We were tuckered out and hungry after the concert and decided to use their non-room service “24/7” option.  Except that when we went to call, the phone was dead.  So MFO went down to the lobby and ordered, and was told it would be ready in 20 minutes.  Upon returning in 20 minutes, nobody knew about the order, so she waited some, only to discover it had languished behind the desk for a while, rendering it stone cold.  (so-so flatbread and (lunch meat) Turkey Club on (dry cold) toast).

Breakfast was included in the room rate so next morning we went down for the Buffet (only choice) which was nicely laid out

Oddly enough the “exit” sign for the food service line was nearest the entrance to the dining space with the “enter” located at the far end of the room.  Needless to say, and understandably, most people went in the exit.  Once inside all the food was on “hot plates” making them more accessable instead of the usual Chafing dishes, avoiding the normal juggling of tongs, plates, and the lids that want to slam shut on your hands.

And the contents of the serving dishes seemed to come directly from the Sysco truck (potatoes always the give away).  Standard stuff with minimal taste..

And one of the attendants in the room seemed to want to emulate a Wizards player.  Upon clearing a table, she did a gorilla dunk with the silverware into the tubs, causing a loud and continuous clatter.  She seemed like a nice lady, spoke to the children etc., just created a din.  She also had an odd habit of asking you if you were finished when your fork was between the plate and mouth..

Lastly, since our phone was dead we stopped by the desk, and when staff’s private conversation behind the desk ceased and they noticed us, we asked for a porter to help us with our bags.   We agreed that 9:10 would be about the right time.   We went up to the room, tidied and finished packing and……. At 9:25 we shouldered our own bags and went back to the lobby for our receipt checkout (no envelope under the door here) “Oh, didn’t anyone come to help?”  Uh, no.    Graciously declined her offer to personally help us out..

Since the location is very convenient both to our friend’s place and the mall, we would stay again and hope that maybe some improvements have been made.  I gave them an ear full on their “take time to fill out this survey about your recent stay”.  I’m sure it will have the same effect the other hundreds I’ve filled out in the past..

our nation's capitol

The Cheery Part… on delay

Well, due to the usual verbal run on, I’ll save my ire at Christmas commercials for next time.  Does anybody really give somebody a surprise car with a bow on it for a gift?  More later

Meanwhile the holidays offer many opportunities to