Monday, May 30, 2016

Oklahoma Dining One (the good one0

We came back from “the farm” after communing with the critters, and had another great homemade lunch, and then kind of relaxed.  It being the last night of the “group” in Henryetta, we decided to go out” for dinner (not to mention reducing the workload on MFON’s wife).   Even though MFO’s sister headed back to Wisconsin earlier in the day, we still numbered an even dozen with kids of varying ages.  So the age old “where to go” came up.  Oddly enough even though it was Saturday, the kind of go to in Henryetta, the “Classic Diner”, does not serve on that day.  So after a bit of thought, MFON’s wife came up with “Mona’s Rose of Sharon” restaurant.  One nice thing about a small(ish) town is that most people know each other so the Owner was alerted that 12 people were about to descend for dinner.  No problem.

So we got into a variety of vehicles and did a short drive over to the restaurant.   They have not been here too long

Inside is bright and clean, with a nice painting of the namesake on the wall

As you might surmise from that name, the management are people of faith, and indeed keep a copy of the Holy Bible on the counter (in the “x” frame on middle right)

Mona’s serves all three meals, and there is a “one menu does all” covering all three meals in a single two sided laminated sheet.

Probably can’t read much, but breakfast offers just what you would expect: eggs, ham, sausage, pancakes, almost any combination you might think of.   Just a couple of notes, no scrapple, and under drinks you can get tea, coffee, or pop!

On the lunch and dinner side of things, so surprises, sandwiches (including fried bologna), salads (including a hamburger salad), and burgers, headlined by “Mona’s Famous Burger”, and a “Bubba Burger” which was two patties.  

Apparently one of their specialties is “Fried Pies” (down in the lower right of the dinner menu).  More on that later..On Friday’s they apparently have a fish buffet.   On top of the buffet table (which I guess is not used during dinner service) was more condiments and hot sauce bottles than I have ever seen

There was a blackboard with daily specials, one of which was a “fried Hamburger”.   In fact that word “Fried” seemed to be pervasive, as in the little tent card with appetizers (including the hand “breadeded” onion rings.

So anyway, we got down to business and ordering our food.  The ladies were very efficient in taking our choices on a little pad, being very careful to make sure they heard correctly, etc.
I chose the Famous Burger (voted best burger in town) with mostly all the stuff, and elected to have some onion rings.  I won’t go through the whole litany of other stuff, but when it came out everything was very good.  My burger was sizable, cooked as I wanted it,

And those onion rings were real onions, didn’t look like they came off the truck and the breading was hot and crunchy.   Maybe it was that extra “ed”.  Ha ha..
A Chicken Fried steak was classic. And those fries were also not from a truck

I think I might take some issue with the black board “fried hamburger”

It was kind of a takeoff on a croque-monsieur, but characterized by its owner as “a bit heavy”.  Pretty dense. 
After ingesting all that protein and the rings, I really wasn’t craving dessert, but feeder duty demanded I try one of the “Handmade Fried Pies”.   Which, I did

I'd have to say it wasn’t memorable. I think the picture kind of tells the story.  The dough was a bit soggy, the glaze heavy, and the filling was pretty glutinous.  If it were memorable I might remember what it was… I think maybe lemon..

Anyway, besides the pies (IMHO) they do a great job.  All the food was good, served hot, friendly service (water glasses kept filled).

I’m sure by this time you’re all wondering about “Just right”.  Well, I think so.  Delivers exactly what you expect.   Only caveat is that it hasn’t been there very long.  I may have to rethink that criteria.

Oh, and another feature was that one of the youngsters finally lost one of his front teeth that have been dangling for a few days.  I have a great picture which I will share with his mom and dad. 


Friday, May 27, 2016

Cows and other critters...

After a little detour for Cows and Fishes (next post down), we return to Oklahoma where I am sure there are both.  And in fact we can testify that that there are plenty of cows, and we even saw some up close.

MFO’s nephew lives well out of Henryetta (see interesting footnote at the end of posting) and has a few acres there.  We went out there for breakfast the day after the graduation ceremony (Saturday).  MFON's wife prepared quite a spread, featuring locally produced sausage and bacon as well as eggs and biscuits ‘n gravy.

After stuffing ourselves on the sausage and bacon, we took a little walk around his house and property.  These little darlings live in a pen near the house.  How can you not love these?
They love to come and see you

and like to hang out together

They also keep sources of those eggs we had

And then there’s “Norman” (I may have the name wrong, memory fails, but pretty sure starts with "N")

Norman is a proud member of the Limousin breed of cattle, originating in France.   I kept a fence between us and admired it from afar.  His wife also keeps a very nice garden

Not only does he have the animals on the property, he also owns more acreage out of town where he keeps a larger herd of cattle

As well as some imposing grown up critters

And king of his domain

The barn that was being constructed (not on his property)
Was being done by the Amish

And of course to manage a farm, you need real toys

It certainly was refreshing to get “out in the country” and see real animals.  Not that we can’t see them around here, but not quite in the quantities we sat at MFON's farm.  Turns out you have to feed the critters, so it takes a fair amount of effort on his part.  They have two kids (human variety), so they have quite a happy life.  We spent the rest of that day sort of hanging out and enjoying the bucolic (okay, now I’m getting poetic, so I should quit).  That evening we had a dinner at a local restaurant (that i think might make a "just right" list), and then the next day MFO and I headed back to OKC where we had another interesting dinner experience.  I’ll cover both in the next edition, keeping this one to the four legged critters. 

As we replaced thoughts of cows, goats, chickens, with thoughts of rental cars, standing (or sitting in this case) in lines airports, more than once Walt Whitman’s poem from “Leaves of Grass” came to mind:

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of
years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth

Pretty pertinent, eh "Norman"?   

And animals are always


Footnote: Doing the blog is always interesting.  After remarking about Henryetta in the first Oklahoma edition, i got a back channel note from a reader who has suffered me almost from the inception of the Feeder.  Turns out her mother and several relatives are from there.  She was back for a reunion a couple of years ago, and enjoyed the vicarious visit..  Small world..

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pasture and Sea

It may not be obvious, but I do spend a lot of mental energy on how to construct these restaurant “reviews”. Cow and Fish churned over and over in my mind all weekend, hence the delay in reportage.  We went there with friends for dinner on Friday night, and it was an interesting experience.  Alert readers may remember the positive “just right” lunch expedition, and so I was eager to try it for the evening meal.

It presented some pluses and minuses which had to be balanced.  Mostly I don’t know what “level” of restaurant they aspire to be.  I think I have seen their publicity where the words “fine dining” appeared, so should you “rate” them at that level, or just a nice place to come and eat?   For the feeder, there are different expectations and standards for the type of restaurant.   Besides décor and amenities, the two most important points are service and food.  C&F excelled at one, and needs work on the other.

I called earlier in the week for a booking, and was told they do not accept reservations for Friday or Saturday night.  Although I still don’t like this policy, I can understand it for smaller venues such as Cow and Fish (or CD Café).   With only a few tables, holding one for a no show costs them bottom line.  Please if you do make a reservation someplace, either keep it or let them know…

Having heard reports of waiting for a table (usually a good sign) we moved our arrival time up to 6 pm in hopes of not having to wait.  Since 236 traffic was light on a CWS Friday, we were well ahead of that time, but we entered and the gracious host lady seated us easily at a four top along the wall (all tables except the one in the entrance space are against the wall).  Once seated, a server approached us and let us know her name was… and “would be our server”.  At least she wasn’t going to “take care of us”.  She opened with “good afternoon”, which we all laughed at.  I think she was a bit nervous.  We were offered drinks but decided to wait for our friends.

While waiting, we looked around at the other occupied tables, and observed that DFD was a wide range.  A large table had muscle shirts, cap on (bill forward) and ladies with cut off levi shorts.  Others were dressed a bit more (what I consider) appropriately.  Eventually our friends arrived, quite on time, and the young lady returned to the table, read us the specials, and asked if we would like a drink.  They do have a “full bar” in the entrance space.  The one page wine list (probably unreadable here):

Is brief, but seems to have been developed with some thought,  contains many international selections.   How many times do you see a German Gewurztraminer or a Spanish Rueda Blanco (Verdeho grape) from Rioja on a wine list around here?  The reds were the usual suspect grapes, but only the Cabernet Sauvignon was domestic, the rest were international including a Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva (Tempranillo), reflecting the owner’s penchant for her native Spain.

Eschewing wine for the first drink, the gentleman tried for a cocktail.  Bad idea.  The server had no idea what an Old Fashioned was, kind of looking sheepish (but with a pleasant smile), and I decided to give up on a Dry Manhattan and asked what Gins were available.  I’ll have to check.  And the check revealed that there was no bartender that evening and mixed drinks as cocktails were out.  Okay, so the Old Fashioned turned into a Vodka Tonic, and I asked about Scotch.   What kind would you like?  Um, Glenfiddich? Chivas?  How about Johnny Walker?  Yes, we have that! red or black?  Black.  The ladies chose the Cateña Chardonnay and the New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc. 

Off she goes and soon returns with the drinks, two nicely portioned white wines (which were very good), the V&T and my Scotch.  My friend thought the T in the V&T may have been 7 Up.  Maybe the absence of the bartender showing through.  Stick with the wine list…(or at least check on the status of the barkeep)

JWB and rocks

We decided to order the crab dip for the table, but said we wanted to linger over our drinks a bit before deciding on the entrée.  The crab dip was VERY GOOD,

Not your usual glutinous concoction normally found around here, and served with nicely toasted baguettes.  In fact it was so good that I forgot to intrude with a picture until it was mostly eaten.

We did finally accede to ordering main courses, and despite the “Cow and Fish” only one choice was in that category.  MFO had the “Cousin Turners” (Grilled dry-rubbed chicken, marinated in lemon and white wine); a single crab cake dinner; I chose a daily special of lamb chops and skewered scallops over mango, and finally the “Sandie”, their signature steak with skewered scallops and shrimp.    Sides were also ordered, salads all around, baked potatoes, etc. 

We also ordered wine for that course, and the ladies wanted their wines refreshed, and BIG POINTS, the wine (by the glass) was served from the bottle!

I wish more places would do that, nice touch.

And back to the crab dip a moment.  Moments (repeated word) after the picture was taken, the salads arrived at the table.

And moments after they arrived (even before the side dressing could be applied) the main dishes also arrived at the table.  Just about like after delivering the salads, she returned to the kitchen and picked up the entrees.  I don’t know if that was on purpose or not, but it is definitely something the feeder does not like.  In his opinion, there should be a pace to the meal, not all dropped at once.  Which kind of doubles back to: “what type of restaurant” is this?  A place to eat or a place to dine?  Perplexing.  And, when the owner lady stopped by to check, I did in fact tell her that I didn’t appreciate that type of service.  To be honest, I don’t remember if she apologized or not.  It did lead to a pleasant conversation about her Spanish background and the fact she came from Barcelona..

I must say that regardless of when the food arrived, it was all very good.  My lamb chops were medium rare as ordered, had good flavor and the accompanying shrimp on the bed of obviously fresh mango was terrific.  MFO’s chicken was flavorful and tender, and both of the dishes our friends had were delicious.  The steak "Sandie" was praised by somebody who knows steak!

So all in all, the food was excellent, and the service, while good natured and pleasant, could use some tweaking or more experience.  And I would hope that the “all at once” delivery of first and second courses was maybe due to the fact that we lingered too long over the drinks.  There was no lobby full of people waiting for a table, so I don't think they were intentionally rushing us.  All in all a good experience, and we will definitely return.. Although C&F has been there for some time, it will be interesting to see how they evolve.  First rate food, and while everything from the menu was fine, pay attention to the specials.  Both my visits were rewarded from selections off the menu.  Cow And Fish would be worth your visit.  And I would request that your attention should be paid to


Footnote to "MHB", you are correct, the Patatas Bravas were indeed on the appetizer menu, and yes, mussels are "Mediterranean" influenced.  Given the quality of the food, i would like to see them go deeper and creatively into Spanish cuisine.. Seems like the talent is there...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Where the wind....

comes... well, you know

Preface (probably slightly boring as most Preface's (Prefaci?) are, but required reading to understand what follows)

Well, we (I’ve) almost recovered from our whirlwind (pun intended) weekend jaunt to Oklahoma.   Funny, when we told people we were taking a trip there, the almost uniform response was:  “OKLAHOMA!  in MAY?”   Well, yes.  As I briefly mentioned in the last edition, our grandnephew (tough to sort out these titles) was graduating high school, and all of the Otto clan was also attending resulting in sort of a family reunion, so MFO was keen to go.  There were a couple of boundary conditions that made it a bit more challenging.  MFO was signed up for second session of “Protecting your Documents”, the workshop on disaster response concerning archival things.  That was taking place again at the B&O museum from 8am to 4pm on Thursday, the day BEFORE the graduation in Oklahoma.  And, at the other end of the stack of the books, believe it or not, she was to receive yet another pair of rewards from the County specifically recognizing her contributions to the Historical Preservation Commission and also her work with the Newtowne Neck State Park master plan development.  SO, that meant we could not leave BEFORE the workshop ended Thursday afternoon and had to be back the following Monday evening.  (Isn’t this riveting reading?)  So we turned it over to the capable talents of the Cole Travel folks and they set us up with flights, rooms, and a car. 

Now before proceeding, (if I haven’t driven you off already); one more thing.  It’s easy to blog and blab about a plate of pasta or servers wanting to know if you’re still working on that (which will come eventually) but covering a family event is a bit sticky because I am very reluctant to ever post pictures of relatives nor kids here.  SO, I’ll have to be kind of circumspect in some areas. 

Okay, to begin the odyssey I get in the MOMSTER and head for Baltimore, waaaaayyyyy ahead of time, but I find it hard to sit around for hours just waiting for a departure time.  Since I had done the trip before, I made it with relatively little trouble and then sat for an hour or so waiting for MFO.   We got to BWI about two hours before our 7 something take off.  Parked in Long Term A, making note of the location of the MOMSTER

Another nuance this time was driven by my knees and a tight connection in Atlanta (right on the way to OKC, right?).   Our travel person said, I’ll just order a wheel chair for you.  Swallowing pride along with Advil, I accepted.  Apparently it’s flagged on your record or boarding pass or something.   Turned out it’s not a bad deal.  Straight to security past lines, “pre check” is almost guaranteed, and you get “driven” right to the gate.  A new experience.  Only cost is tipping, which I usually do on the extravagant side.  One short story, and then we’ll move on.  The young man that guided my chair in Atlanta was a football player for maybe Georgia, some school that made you take notice anyway, but he blew out BOTH acl’s near the first day of practice.  End of career, now pushing wheel chairs in airports.  Sure there might be more to the story.

Anyway, we boarded (first, another benefit) and got aisle aisle seats on Southwest.   We had to sit in the penalty box at BWI for a while but eventually took off for Atlanta.  Besides bags of peanuts and (bad) pretzels, this was dinner (for which the $5 fee was forgiven because the flight attendant''s card reader wouldn't work (on either of my cards):  Her quote: "This piece of....(deleted)!"

We arrived in Atlanta a few minutes AFTER our flight to OKC was supposed to board, but as usual, one delay, all delays and we made connections easily (with the help of the acl guy).  By the time we got to the Hotel, it was well after one (am) local.   

Kind of a leisurely wake up on the day of the Graduation, and we went over to Enterprise to get the rental auto.   Apparently they don’t “pick you up”.  Turned out they were strapped for intermediate cars and we wound up with a “premium” 2015 Cadenza.   Nice ride.  So, armed with phone GPS, printed out Streets and Trips, direction, maps, we struck out for our destination of Henryetta, Oklahoma, about 90 miles east of the City.  Saw lots of this, and Casinos practically every ten miles.  Native American territory, you know.

We finally got to Henryetta

 Of course you know of Henryetta because it is the birthplace of Troy Aikman (there’s a trivia winner for you).  The town dates from 1885, and for a while was a coal center, then glass manufacturing, but today there’s not much left of the downtown,  with lots of vacant buildings, but there are still a few interesting places.  One of which was a “just right” restaurant which we’ll cover in a later edition.

Sorry FOJTY, didn't get to sample
And this right next to the Hotel:

The Hotel was a Day’s Inn, welcomed by “that guy” you see on TV

which was nice enough with a big atrium where the “clan” could gather and let the younger set run around.

while this may be boring as advertised, it kind of sets the background for what turned out to be a very enjoyable trip for us. For once not in a big city, but a peaceful rural setting, including real live farm animals (MFO’s nephew has a farm besides his regular day job).  Plus we got to talk with the side of the family which we don't see often. It also included two notable dining experiences, the “just right” place in Henryetta, and a lousy, well, "interesting" one in OKC the night before we returned.  In between, our host provided some great homemade food, for which we were occasionally


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Alarms Oysters, Chapels, and Travel

Well, kind of a "this and that" today.  No great dining experiences, although we can start out with a surprising dining experience.  MFO’s volunteer efforts are in large part devoted to the SMC Historical Society, where she meticulously preserves, photos, letters, and ledgers brought in by our county residents.   The Society, like everybody else is strapped for money (thank you, county!) and so they hold a dinner in spring and fall.  Last Friday (4/6) was the spring edition.  They try and select a “theme” that was part of our history for each event, such as Moonshine, Tobacco, and so forth.  This one was devoted to Oysters. 

As usual it was held at the Olde Breton Inn on Society Hill in Leonardtown.  In honor of the bivalves, they set up a shucking table

Where the little morsels were being (carefully) released from their shell by the gentleman

Having been around “shuckers” on this side of the Atlantic, and “openers” on the other side, I would say he poses no threat to competitions in either place.  I was not sure of the origin of the little guys, but many had a very elongated character which I found somewhat off-putting.

Also, they were a bit difficult to consume. I really don’t like to cut one in half, so ended up with folding it over like some do pizza.  A bit unnerving, although the flavor wasn’t bad, not terrific, I’ve had better. .  A local told me they were called “spots”. 

As most locals know, Eddy Bailey has held sway at Olde Breton Inn for years and years.  And, for years and years, the dinner is served as a buffet, and for years and years, it has been unswerving in the choices..  mashed potatoes (with gravy like material), some sort of cheesy potatoes, green beans with pimento and bacon bits, green salad, chicken cordon bleu (courtesy of some food service), fried oysters, and finally a carved steam ship round of beef, with choice of au jus or horseradish.  Most members of the Historical Society have been for years (and years), and that is what they expect and what they like.  I was shocked/surprised this year to find the cordon bleu hing was replaced by crab stuffed chicken!  Over my brief years of attendance, I have pretty much settled on ignoring most of the other stuff, concentrating on the oysters,  which are always good, and trying my luck with the beef.  Out of curiosity i did try the variation of the chicken

which can be seen on the right, with the beef tucked in behind it.  As I said, the oysters are always good and plentiful.  The chicken was a welcome change at least.

The program that evening consisted of a talk by Dr. Henry Miller (of Historic St. Mary’s City) about the history of human consumption of Oysters, going back thousands of years.  Then Captain Jack (Russell) a waterman who operated a Skipjack for years, and then matriculated to politics.  Told us about the history of the skipjacks and the “oyster wars” between Maryland and Virginia, and called on several of the retired oyster and watermen who were in attendance.  I love to hear them talk, some with such local accents that you have to struggle to understand them.   Then of course there were stories from them, a delightful evening. 

Docent report

The next day, I was scheduled for “Chapvol” duty, meaning I went down to Historic and manned the Reconstructed Brick Chapel of 1667 for a few hours, answering questions for patrons, and talking about the history of the Chapel, Lord Baltimore’s Colony, the discovery and reconstruction of the current Chapel, and so on..  As I have said before, interest ranges from casual to enthusiastic and part of the fun is to know when they’ve had enough.   Eye contact breaks, nodding and shuffling toward the door, signs like that give you clues as to when you say "Thank you for visiting the City today".

Anyway we have added a new exhibit to the interior of the Chapel, the famous “Lead Coffins”.    After being discovered in the early nineties, and eventually unearthed and opened, they spent time in the Smithsonian as part of the “Written in Bone” exhibit, and now are finally on display in their original location in the right transept fo the chapel.

It is really a nice presentation with the recorded video talking about the discovery and research associated with the journey of the coffins.  Their presence kind of alters our/my usual patter.  Adapt.

Without repeating my whole Chapel Chatter (which forms our reports of visitation, numbers, questions, etc.) I will pass on one interesting thing.  A man somewhat younger than I (which applies to most people) and his daughter came in, and said they had never been in the chapel before and wanted to see the coffins.  So, I started to go into the Coffin speech and he said, “Oh yeah, I bet Henry was very excited”.    On their way out I said “how did you know Henry?”.   "Oh, I was in graduate school with him!"  Of course a short Michigan State discussion followed.   It’s always fun and illuminating to see who walks in the chapel doors..  If you haven’t seen the coffins, come on down!

Lastly, I found a couple of cartoons in the New Yorker which MFO receives weekly that kind of tickled my funny bone, especially this one

Been there, done that, and still live in constant fear..

And who hasn’t hung around wine stores enough to hear one of these

Oh, MFO and I are going to be taking a little (key word) trip to OK to attend the graduation of a great nephew.  Most of the “Otto” side of the clan will be gathering, and MFO wants to seem them.  So leaving Thursday, and returning Tuesday.   Please (insert name of favorite deity) no violent weather or quakes.  Thank you..

And, although it is in the Midwest (or does it qualify as “West”?)  we will be packing duds so we can

DFD of steak or ‘que

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Quick Cow update and more

well, an alert reader gave me some background on the Cow and it's friend the Fish.   They're the ones that used to be at Laurel Station or Grove or whatever it was, now home to Zee Best, reviewed previously.  And before that, Chef may have worked at Front Porch.  Hope they do better in the new location..

Oh, speaking of the Porch Front in Leonardtown, i had lunch there last week,and it was pretty good.  It was a Tuesday, not usually your big restaurant day.  Place was packed.  I suspect that the demise of the Cafe has had a beneficial impact on their business.  But, they have helped themselves as well, as the food has stepped up.  My companion remarked on how good his burger was, and was told that the beef was from WAG (Willy A. Goddard) meats, from the farm in Leonardtown.  

Later that same evening our friend from DC came down to hear the End of Year Recital of Brian Ganz's class.  Some excellent music by very talented students on piano, vocals (by my favorite Starbucks barista) Henry, and an excellent trumpet piece by one of the talented Weh brothers.   A former intern with our DC friend is friends with one of the piano players (who is excellent, by the way).  She was the last performer, and played her piece (Dance of the Dolls) and then was joined by Beverly Babcock and Brian (and a second piano) to play........sorry BB, memory fails (and the program is in MFO's purse at the Historical Society in Leonardtown).  At any rate it was rousing to say the least.  They had such fun. Great to see budding talent.  When we came out of Montgomery Hall it was a deluge.

So, slightly sodden, we stopped in at Elements for a quick dinner before our friend headed back up the road.  we were sad to hear that one of our favorite bartenders has left for another venue.  Pretty common.  I had just "taught" him how i like my Dry Manhattan..However, Pat stepped up and so I still have an "in" there.  Food was quite good. 

speaking of food as we were, i see that Land O'Lakes is coming out with a "premium" butter.  Maybe in your face, KerryGold!

Pick your piece above, and we were of course

oh yeah, happy Cinco de Mayo..