Monday, February 29, 2016

A Gala with a star!

Most of us have been to Gala’s over the years, benefitting this cause and that, you have pretty good food you dance (not us), and generally have a pretty good time.  There is a Gala of (what I consider) a different sort coming up.   Like other galas it does benefit a good institution, in this case our local Ryken High School, but also has a theme not often seen (enough, IMHO) around here.   It’s going to celebrate the food, which is why I was asked to be involved.  As I said, has a couple of features I thought you might like to know about it and hopefully want to attend, I know we are.  Feature number one, the chef:

 Mike Price grew up in our area and worked on his family farm near Redgate and was surrounded by food preparation and developed a love of cooking as his grandmother was constantly cooking and baking.  His Grandfather was a butcher at McKay’s for years. and eventually he began cooking at the Maryland Way restaurant on weekends while attending high school, and hung out at (the old) Evans.  As a result he valued food and simple and seasonal cooking, which led to an appreciation of hard work. 

He graduated from Ryken in 1993, and pursuing his love of food he attended the prestigious  Culinary Institute of America, graduating from the CIA, he did the usual chef thing, learning by doing externships and a tournant (home work assignment) position, mostly in New York city in several restaurants there, then went to Miami for a while, came back to Maryland to learn about the “corporate” side of things doing a stint at the Asbury facility on the Solomons.   He worked with one of our local culinary legends, Bill Taylor for a while.
Then with all the experience gained in 2007 he and a friend opened one of his current venues The Market Table 

very classy

These days a lot of chefs and restaurateurs give lip service to  buying local “Farm to Table” and so forth but here’s a chef actually out in the local markets getting stuff, at a local market.  Every day...

After that success, he opened recently another place, called “The Clam” 

As one might suspect, it is a seafood based restaurant where there is actual seafood, actually prepared

And of course the namesake is available

I don’t know how many of you have had the opportunity to be in the back of the house, although with an “open kitchen” concept you can come close.  In a well run kitchen there is a I (hopefully) quiet rhythm of prepping ingredients

and cooking

And finally plating the result

And, despite the pretty "headshot" of Chef Price at the top, I know enough about these guys that their real passion is to be right here doing what they love

Why all this about MIke?  The people from Ryken contacted him about helping with their upcoming annual Gala.  He graciously accepted, and created a menu for the evening reminiscent of his New York restaurants.  More on that later, but have you heard of “Peekytoe”?   How about a “Peekytoe crab cake with fava beans, English peas, French breakfast radish and cream Dijon” (that’s only course two of four)

The dinner will be executed by Canard’s Catering (Michael and Lisa Kelley) along with Chef Price, who have planned a unique evening, giving you a glimpse into how a menu that might appear in a la carte restaurants can be prepared and served to hundreds of people.  More on that later..

Oh if you’re interested (as you should be) in participating in this unique experience you can go to this link and find out about getting tickets.  Not only will you have a foodie experience not seen before, you can support a local high school that has contributed so much to our community.

Another Ryken graduate, Christian Jarboe (Class of 2013), was kind enough to share some of the stills used above from his video that will be playing during the dinner, it’s a foodie movie for sure.

And I am positive that (along with the Feeder) both the Kelley’s and Chef Price would urge you to


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bits and Pieces..

Blog on a Blog

This is, as they say in the business, a “tease” (and kind of a heads up).   Given the feeder’s lofty status as a (supposed) food connoisseur, I have been asked to help with an upcoming Gala, one which contains what I consider a unique and unusual twist. Or two.   So, although not in this edition, a couple of upcoming postings will be about the event and a special meal.   Stay tuned.

Not quite Pumpkin

I hear McDonalds has announced that they will be marketing an….. Old Bay McFish sandwich.  While I don’t mind that spice in it’s place (very selective) the current craze of putting it on and in everything from chips to beer is out of hand.  Actually, this application is probably not as wild as some uses. I fully expect to soon see the little yellow can with a spoon attached.   Just spoon it in, folks.  OB is the new Pumpkin..

Chicken (no old bay) and waffles

Readers might remember a while back there was a posting here about Chicken and Waffles that was set off by seeing a bag of Lay's Potato Chips that purported to be that flavor.   I was surprised to find that while new to me, C&W has been a staple pairing, mostly in the South, mostly as a "morning after" dish..  

One of the things I do in the early (for me) mornings is to tune my little pillow radio to "Mike and Mike", a rather informative and entertaining sports talk show that is on the radio as well as carried on ESPN2.  I can catch up on the scores, latest foibles of the NFL, and so on.  Mike (Goliic) kind of portrays the cretin buffoon, having played in the NFL and is self anointed expert on all things football.  We won’t mention where he played college.  And the other Mike (Greenberg) is the kind of elitist, type who uses hand sanitizer hourly, cringes at the thought of public toilets, apparently enjoys good food and wine, and displays kind of a bon vivant persona.   I will mention that he went to Northwestern University.   Anyway, the other morning, and I don’t remember how it came up, they both were surprised to find that Chicken and Waffles existed.   Callers and Tweeters suggested several places as having "the best", which I didn’t pay attention to.  So at least the Feeder is ahead of them in that department.  Oh, and speaking of Potato Chip flavors, I saw another bag that contained “Southern Biscuits and Gravy” chips.  Ewwwwww…

A Question for readers to ponder

This would be easier if it were on Facebook or someplace where reader reaction could be recorded and tabulated.  Subject is Menu’s.   As a general practice when I am going out to a new restaurant in a different city or someplace where I have not been before, I DO NOT go on the web and look at their menu.  Nor, do I stand outside the door of a new place gazing at the menu.  Perhaps when I am wandering around in a different city or overseas I’ll look as I pass by, but not if I am going to dine there.   So the question would be:  “do you routinely look on line at the menu of a place you're going to that night?

Stodgy old me thinks that the presentation of the Menu is an important part of the overall experience.  How is it given to you?  plopped or politely handed to you? I personally just accept it with thanks and set it aside. Then, while you enjoy your cocktail, you can sort of wonder what choices await you (we’re talking leather bound type here, not plastic laminated) and consider what you're in the mood for.  And, when you’re ready to think about food you can open the menu like a Christmas present.  Sometimes by the time you’re ready to consider food you may have changed your mind about what you might be looking for.  That big steak that was running through your head upon entering may have changed to a sautéed Dover Sole by the time you’re ready to order.   And (pet peeve) i don't like it when the server brings the cocktails and immediately says "are you ready to order?" when the menus have remained untouched.

I suppose if you’re picking a restaurant in some city you plan to visit, it might help to look at their menu, although most things like Trip Advisor at least indicate the type of cuisine.  But an interesting subject to consider.

Peek or don’t peek, but for sure


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Thank you Mr. President!

 “Southern Maryland might get a light dusting or maybe 1 to 3 inches of accumulation” 

          ~11 am February 15            ~11 am February 16

our little nuisance dusting:

and on the "Bridge Side"

With the ground covered up the "poor" birds had no food source, so they said “Hey! Let’s go over to the Feeder’s house, he always has full feeders!

Well, they were for a while,, the hoards of voracious little bas**rds cleaned out the feeders in almost half a day.  Plus they were by and large those annoying Grackles who have no social graces whatsoever.  Pretty much drove away the usual diners of finches, cardinals, juncos and so forth.  But, as a birder friend says when i bitch about selective feeding,  "If you're going to feed the birds feed the birds!"  

Later in the day we were treated to everything from rain to sleet to freezing rain, a veritable buffet (hey, this is food blog) of wintry precipitation and winds.  An “all rain” overnight had us awaken today with everything but the remnants of plow piles gone.  Amazing.

So, what’s a snowbound Feeder to do?   Keep going on “the project”.  So much to MFO’s delight this

Has changed to

And this

Has morphed to

Now, the only remaining task is to clean up the Blogger’s Table.  More to come.   and, oh by the way have you ever noticed that when you "organize" you can't find anything anymore?  

Bits and Pieces
And to conclude the kind of short report today, just a couple of this and that’s.   First of all, after throwing brickbats at the Super Bowl half time show, I should note that Lady Gaga gave very nice signing of the National Anthem before the game.  Oh God, I thought, what will she come up with?  Well, she came up with a classic, tasteful, performance of the Anthem.  Good for her.

And just a little food buzz which may or may not prove true.  Bollywood Masala may be moving to Lenny’s.  There could be a “pumphouse” establishment somewhere along the 235 corridor (DB’S?);  Front Porch is undergoing some renovations.  The fate of Café Des Artistes seem to remain in flux.  They should say “the heck with it”, and just keep going.  But after bringing us so much joy for so many years they deserve to have some semblance of a normal retirement near friends and family.  

Guess that’s it.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bowls of Super and Mushrooms.

My gosh.. it’s almost a week since the Super Bowl.  I really do have work on finding out where that time goes..  Anyway, some updates.

I was pleased at the outcome of the Superbowl.  I hope it is Peyton’s last hurrah.  Even though his defense played out of their skull again, it will go down as his victory.  I was also kind of disappointed in Cam’s reaction to a loss.  I think I kind of understand, but it was a good chance to cement his position as the new face of the league.  He could have been a little more gracious I think.  He can dish it out, but….???

And of course I have to comment on the half time show.  Somebody I was talking to said you either loved it or hated it.  Have to admit I was in the latter category.  But, however, comma, I am: a) not up on the current music trends, and b) maybe too old to move into the “a” category.  Apparently I was dumb not to know who “Coldplay” is and familiar with their lead singer Chris Martin.   What I saw was some guy in a T shirt hopping up and down, jabbing fingers at ?, and shouting lyrics (which I couldn’t understand) with a range of oh, maybe half an octave.  I suspect that a football field is not exactly conducive to your best performance.  And as for Beyonce, well, her subject matter was a bit surprising, and her dancing (more of an exhibition) didn’t excite me either.  Hey you kids!  Get out of my yard!!

Commercials were not startling, and unless I missed it, the only Budwiser that I was aware of was Helen Mirren. 

And continuing in the Super Bowl vein, as I reported before the game we didn’t go whole hog, just easy snacks.   Well, MFO’s stuffed mushroom caps did require a little work, but they’re worth it (oh, remind me to tell you a comment this garnered when put on Facebook)

We also had some boiled shrimp

And a KauKauna cheese log. Yes indeed!  Processed to the max, artificial color, formed into a "log" coated with "almonds" and just sleazy good.  (love it)

For libation we enjoyed a sparkling Anderson Valley California Rosé from the Goldeneye winery.  Which was fitting because we usually have a few of them floating out back (the ducks, not the wine).

A lovely time and as I said, I was pleased with the outcome of the game.

(Interesting?) Technical Stuff

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but not long ago, I purchased a new camera body, another Canon Rebel, this time a T6s, which has more bells and whistles, including a wireless capability which I have yet to explore.  It does however, contain a series of special settings, under “Special Scene Mode” which takes over and sets the camera for you, enabling: Shooting Children (an accurate description photographically speaking, but perhaps not the best choice); Shooting Candlelight Portraits; Shooting Night Portraits with a Tripod; Night Scenes handheld, and Backlit scenes.  And as a sign of the times, there is also a setting for “Shooting Food”.  It is supposed to enhance the color and vividness of the food.  So, all of the above shots were taken that way.  I guess they're okay.  Well, one has to wonder what the difference really is.  SO, being an engineer, I decided to take some data.

I set up a “cheese board” and took some images as close to exact duplicate that I could.  
Here is the first:

And here is the second:

Can you tell the difference?  Probably not here in the blog, but in full screen you can see some (subtle) differences

The first was taken in the Aperture Priority mode, ISO 400, f4.5; 32mm; 200th of a second
The second was taken in the “food” mode, which changed the ISO to 100 and the shutter speed to a 50th.  Both had the same white balance corrections.  More experimentation is necessary, and I’m sure the readership is intensely interested…. Not.


And in closing, let’s lighten up a bit with a humorous little situation which occurred at Thai Inter in San Souci Plaza   I am on the “Oyster Board” for our Rotary Club, and we meet regularly to plan the Oyster Festival.   Lately we have taken to meeting around supper time there. Some people order food, some don’t, some get take away to bring home.  

The servers are all very friendly and earnest, eager to please, and can pronounce the dishes on the menu correctly (which we can’t).  Anyway, one of the members usually gets spring rolls from the appetizer menu, but has found that the normal order brings four or five, more than he wishes to eat.  So, this time he said to the server, “I would like just three spring rolls”.  Now, I failed to mention that while friendly and helpful sometimes staff's (English) language skills are stressed.  When the server heard that the gentlemen wanted three spring rolls, she kind of furrowed her brow, cocked her head, and said “Three Spring Rolls?”.  Yes three spring rolls please. "OK" And off she went.

Eventually the food began to come out and when that server came to the table she had three big plates of four spring rolls each (full orders), and began to set them in front of our friend.  Well, that had to be sorted out.  Fun with food!

Quick “project” update.  Progress being made..

Okay, more to come, remember to


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Projects and Pigskins.

Well, this may land me in divorce court, or at a minimum a counseling session, but just something I thought I might want to share.

You know how one little simple thing can lead to a massive project of some sort?  Well that sort of happened to me.  As you know (or should), I am active on several civic organizations around here, sit on boards and stuff like that.  Well, the other day, I thought “well, I need to look at that budget again” and I know just where it is.  So, I reached out to put my hands on it and…… nowhere to be seen!   Has that ever happened to you?

So before we proceed further, (and this may be the start of legal proceedings or at least “Exhibit A”),We have a “loft” where we keep our “office” stuff near the computers.  And, although this is kind of like looking in somebody’s underwear drawer, here was the state of things when I went to “just pick up the (mythical) piece of paper”

A nice tidy work area surrounding the computer, with the well organized filing system along the far wall

Well after a half hour of cursing and going through each of the stacks, never finding what I wanted, 

I decided something had to be done about this. Off to the races! And so i developed a plan whereby I would go through the whole damn table sheet by sheet, and put things into “subject” bins, which then turned the many stacks into more stacks with the little 3x5 card for “X board”; “Y events” and so on

Although it was a bit of a shuffle, I did reduce the "filing wall" to a relatively clean state

That is the current state this (Sunday) morning, what I estimated taking an hour or so mushroomed into half a day.  At least while I was doing “what the heck is this piece of paper” with dates uncovered as far back as 2008.  while considering the history, I did have this to look out on

Isn’t this riveting reading?    

So next step will be to organize each pile and come up with a storage system (hanging files? Notebooks? Anything but more stacks). 

And while I’m showing you the underside of the Feeder’s existence, I know you must have thought from time to time:  “I wonder where the Feeder creates those brilliant, insightful, and informative pieces on food and culture?.  Must be a glorious setting.  Well, here it is, across from the Desktop station

Strewn about with reference material

(Wine advocate, Showtime Deli Menu, one of my magazines)

And before we leave the reference department just to show you I do have some shred of organization (soon to be more) here are my Travel Files

In which reside menus, tasting notes, diaries, brochures and so forth from our many adventures..

I’ll consider Phase I of the project complete. More to come.

Change of subject to:
 “Suuuuuuperrrrr Sunnnnnnndaaaay!”

Well today is the clash of the final two professional football teams in what has become an American Cultural Phenomenon, the Super Bowl.  It is also the 50th (!!!) edition and is sometimes referred to as “Super Bowl L”.  It does have maybe more than routine interest in that it brings the wily old veteran Peyton Manning on probably his last rodeo, against the young, brash, and frankly engaging Cam Newton. I’m sure you could launch on many story lines and metaphors, but I won’t.  Probably out of an “old guy” perspective I would like to see Peyton go out on with a ring but I am afraid it won’t happen.

Most of the friends we used to gather with for the game are now in far flung places, so it will be only MFO and myself for the game.  Given the amount of work required I did not make my (famous) Remoulade, nor Gumbo, nor Jambalaya.   Hard to do for just the two of us.  MFO is, making her (famous) stuffed mushroom caps, we got a Kaukauna cheese log (which fits the Super Bowl snack rule of they HAVE to be orange) which is kind of sleazy good, I’ll steam up some shrimp, maybe some cashews, and perhaps some sleazy Fritos Bean dip straight from the can.  Wallow in it… no seven layer dip here!.   As for beverages, it is definitely DWTHYL time.  Beer, whisky, wine, soda, whatever..  and at least the game kicks off at 6:30 so one has a chance to last.   As kind of an aside,  I HAVE NOT done any sneak peeking at commercials.

Although it was mostly driven by apathy and sloth, we did go to Giant this morning for weekly needs, not necessarily party food.  We were kind of fearful of crowds, but maybe that was yesterday as we found it busy, but not jammed.  We did see, however the results of yesterday’s (?) shopping both in the “healthy” department

And in the snacking aisle

Where I see some considerate shopper left their Pringles for somebody else to deal with.

Okay, we’re going to journey out for a pre-game brunch so I’ll cease with the usual admonishment to

And enjoy the game, or the people, or the commercials, or the food, or all.   Big thing is to enjoy!

Will maybe show some of our snacking stuff tomorrow.. Go BRONCO's

Monday, February 1, 2016

New (almost) and tired and true

I guess the “new” is first, and it isn’t really “new”.  

The other day I was down by Great Mills and on a whim thought I would stop at the newly opened Showtime Deli.  I could be a little help to some of the loyal readers who might have the same idea, and you should.  My comments are only offered (as always) in the spirit of improving the experience, not just carping.  Which I do do sometimes. 

First of all, I had a misconception about the place; they HAVE NOT taken over the whole building that used to house the golden arches on Great Mills Road.  At least there is still the “Sake” sign over the door that is on the “Subway/Popeye’s” side.  Their entrance is on the street side in the middle of the building.   When I was there, the path to that door was snowed in.  Maybe the best approach is to go into the parking lot by the Dollar General store and the Mexican Restaurant (to which I have not visited) and work your way over by the dry cleaners and find a spot.  As mentioned, the entrance faces onto Great Mills Road, and once inside the door you kind of have to wend your way through a couple of halls to finally get to the dining area.  It is fairly small, with maybe six tables and several seats at the counter in front of the kitchen. 

On the day I was there, it was quite crowded, probably attesting to its popularity, with most tables occupied as were all of the stools in front of the kitchen.   The stools afford the best position, as they allow you to talk to and listen to Jack Gelrud, a must do.  I was also surprised to see another county icon, Capt. Jack Russell in the kitchen with an apron.  You talk about a team!  Worth it.  Real county veterans.

The (current) Menu features their “overstuffed” sandwiches.   All of the offerings have a theatrical twist, like “Frankly Scarlet, I Don’t give a Ham;  “Ike and Tina Tuna”; “Agatha Crispy BLT; and so on.  Some are a bit beyond me, like “A street car named Pastrami” Huh?  Coo Coo Cluck is chicken salad.  You get the idea.  Besides the single ingredient selections there are combination choices, such as “The Cotton Club” a triple decker with Ham, Turkey, Bacon, cheese and tomato.  With the exception of the Open Face Sandwiches everything is under 9 bucks, mostly less.  There is also Fries, soups and salads.  They also do breakfast, offering Lox (!!); Bagel sandwiches; (three egg) Omelets; plus plated sides.  I have a particular reader who would be pleased if they offered Scrapple.. 

Anyway, I ordered the "Westerner Roast Beef" (on white, and added on American Cheese for 75 cents on the base price of $6.99).  I was quite pleased with the sandwich, although the bread kind of dissolved and ended up being very thin.  The Beef was plentiful and had good flavor.   Stop by to be entertained and have another welcome option to local food.

Tried and True
Saturday, MFO and I went up to Annapolis and St. John’s College for a program sponsored by the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions, given by John Englander about water rise.  It was basically directed at Annapolis, but covered broader topics.   He said he advised the Annapolis people to plan for three feet rise by the end of the century.  He was very adamant that it WOULD happen.  It can’t be reversed, perhaps only moderated by control of greenhouse gasses, but the damage has been done.  There were lots of graphs and so on, looking at ice age cycles going back millions of years, and how the current data supports drastic rises.  I am not going to argue anything here, but it was quite dramatic.

Anyway, another reason we went up there was that the program was scheduled to be over kind of right before dinner time.  So, what do you do in Annapolis when it’s dinner time and you’re by State Circle?  You go to Harry Browne’s of course.   Long time readers will remember I have extolled the merits of the place before, and I can’t change my opinion.  I often yak about “just right” and Browne’s is it, at least for us.  It has the perfect combination of relaxed, unpretentious service, good food, and a pleasant room (with chandeliers from the USS Normandie), white tablecloths and quiet.   We got what is now our favorite table, kind of tucked in the back by the bar away and out of earshot of other diners.   I don’t think we saw one table that was not DFD. 

With all that talk about water rise, I had a healthy thirst by that time, and so (having sort of given up on my DMOTRWAT; I get tired of correcting them, a weakness perhaps) I ordered a Martini.  And, here, I have to make a little objection.  I always inquire as to what Gins are available before ordering.  We eat at fairly nice restaurants (he said) where I think they place a lot of emphasis on your experience.  Well, by and large I get the same litany of Bombay, Tanqueray, (occasionally Beefeater), and increasingly Hendrick’s.  There are more and more interesting “craft” Gin’s out there, as well as some long time varieties like Plymouth (my current fav); Junipero,  and local efforts like Smooth Ambler (from West Virginia).  Here in town, International Beverage has a very nice selection and an exception to the “restaurant” trend would be our local Elements, Eatery, and Mixology which offers several choices.

Regardless, how can you beat this?

Stirred not shaken (Sorry James), a sidecar for just that other sip, in a proper “up” glass.  (MFO’s standard Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire) in the background).  

Having lowering the water levels in our glasses we turned to the menu.   It is a very nice menu, with lots of choices, and as memory serves, maybe some more selections on the “appetizer” side, with the current trend of small plates and sharing.  I was bemused however at an entry in this salads section

There is very little about the description that fits the classic “wedge” salad.  I would almost have ordered it just to see what came out.  Making a “wedge” out of Bibb lettuce instead of Iceberg, Ranch Dressing?  what???  Okay, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes and crispy prosciutto are close.  I guess maybe that is why there are quotes around “Wedge”.
Shied off by that description I ordered the Caesar salad, and MFO got the white wine poached pear salad.  Upon ordering the server cautioned me that “the salad is served with Anchovies”.  When I said “of course” he said: “thank you sir”.  A bit odd that they veered away from “classic” on the Wedge but came back home on the Caesar.  Both salads were excellent and there were plentiful Anchovies, by the way.

For entrée I chose an off the menu nightly dish of Seared Rockfish with Shrimp, served over lobster saffron Risotto.   MFO, stayed a bit lighter choosing Grilled Pheasant Cognac Sausage With roasted Turnips, Buttered Cabbage and whole Grain Mustard from the appetizer menu.
After we finished the salads we were treated to an intermezzo of sorbet, I love that touch

Palate cleared, the main courses were served:

Both dishes were completely enjoyable.  The lobster in the risotto might be a bit over the top, but boy, was it good!  Such a treat.

We finished the meal with a cheese plate: Manchego 12 Month – Spanish; Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese – California; Sottocenere- Italian; with Cranberry Walnut Toast, Honeycomb and Fresh Fruit; perfect food…

I didn’t remark on the service, mostly because I didn’t need to.  No pretensions, hi, can I get you a drink.  Thank you for Anchovies, occasional  checks on the table (without “how’s that werkin’ for ya”).  Quiet confidence that the kitchen can do what it is supposed to.  Sigh.

Maybe it isn’t the most wonderful thing we’ve put in our mouth, but just solid, tasteful food, presented nicely at the correct temperature and time.  Lovely experience.  Gives one hope..  oh, and of course we were