Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Harry Revisit

Well, if this gets published today (31 August 2016) it will mark the 53rd year that MFO and I have been married!  As I often say, where does that time go.  Amazing.. 

On another note, I think I have mentioned that we are leaving for Cornwall on the 26th of September.  Beginning to ramp up activity toward departing, like building lists of clothes, gear, restaurants, etc.  Part of the usual build up is to refresh the Feeder’s wardrobe.   So that engendered a trip up to Annapolis to help Nordstrom’s keep solvent.  Over the years we have gotten to know the manager of “Men’s Furnishings” to the point where we let her know what I’m interested in, and then she gathers stuff and lays it out for us to see when we get there.  Wouldn’t go so far as to say “personal shopper”, but it kind of works out that way.   On our way there, we saw one of the burgeoning number of “food trucks” parked by the road near two and west street

So our usual agenda is to go to Nordstrom’s and then go have a civilized lunch at Harry Browne’s.   I know we’re not top shelf people, but we do enjoy Nordstrom’s.  It is such a nice place to shop.   I kind of draw a mental parallel to “Selfridge” and the blossoming of personal service.  So from the options displayed for us, we selected a few pairs of trousers, a couple of shirts, a tie or two.  Some of the trousers required tailoring (too many lunches at Harry Browne’s), and she said they would ship them to us when they were done.. nice.

So after the red carpet treatment (in my own little demented mind) we got in the Momster and headed for historic Annapolis.  Any of you who have been there for anything know that parking is a nightmare, especially with a land yacht such as the Momster.   Instead of driving around looking for a vacant slot (which is about twenty five cents per fifteen minutes) we have taken to going to the parking garage on West Street, not far from the Ram’s Head and St. Anne’s church.    Harry’s is located on State Circle that encloses the State House, so it is a bit of a hike from the garage to the restaurant.  Unfortunately HB’s doesn’t offer valet parking during lunch, so we had to walk.   Our route takes us past the Governor’s mansion and State House, and as we were just at the State House, men in suits came out flanking the good Governor.   Surprisingly he didn’t stop and chat. 

So we finally got to the restaurant (past their catering truck)

a little damp and bushed.  There were a few diners (apparently mad dogs or Englishmen) eating outside and only a few (two) tables inside (was about 1:15 at this point).  Once inside, it was cool, quiet, and shady and I requested one of the tables “at the back” that we enjoy and were given one of the two tables back there.

The other table was occupied by two women sharing dessert, and we couldn’t avoid overhearing conversations about “I’ll have the committee look into that, you contact so and so..” and other palaver which we read as political.  Power stuff.   Anyhow, after they left we were on our own to enjoy the atmosphere and the elegant chandeliers and ceiling

There is a story about the chandeliers, they came off of, or are replicas of ones on some famous vessel, but I can’t remember which one.

Before we go further, a little diversion into restaurant philosophy (at least according to the Feeder):  When a place climbs near the top of whatever list, there are a few expectations.  One of the reasons we return to HB’s is that we know we are going enjoy the ambiance, get great food, and enjoy the service.  I know there are other excellent restaurants in Annapolis  (Carroll’s Creek Café; Café Normandy; Vin 909; Level), but it’s the old “roll the dice or go where….”  decision, and we generally opt for the “go where you know…”.    Well this trip to HB’s contained the first little chink in my estimation of them.  It was in the third of the holy trinity of food, setting, and service.  See for example my 2014 experience, and I quote: server’s first words: 

“I’ll bet you would like a drink”.  No silliness, just that.  Yes, why yes, I believe I would.  Given the time of day and the sixty miles between us an home, I opted for wine.  He said a complimentary glass of wine, champagne, or Mimosa came with each entrée order.  I asked for a chardonnay, and MFO a Sauvignon Blanc.  I asked if they were house wines.  His reply was: “I think I can do a little better than that”.  I ended up with a very nice glass of Talbott Kali Hart, and MFO’s a Ponga New Zealand.  Upon delivery, he said I’ll let you wind down a little bit and left.  No “are you ready to order?”,  just a courteous departure
- the bottom feeder, August 2014

This time it was: “Good (sic) evening, I’m Wes, and ……of you”,  at least there was no “you guys”.  While I would expect this at a chain, I would hope not HB’s.   I will admit the next phrase was if we would like something to drink.   MFO selected from the little card with five dollar wines per glass (which are not bad) and I wanted to avoid any missteps (bad on my part) and  a Gray Goose martini up with a twist.. Perhaps the walk in the heat in my DFD Blazer made me a bit edgy.

At any rate the lovely drink did appear with a healthy pour of a white Côtes du Rhône

And concurrent with drinks appearing, despite the fact the menus were untouched where Wes left them, he asked if we were ready to order.  Chink two.  No thanks, we would like to enjoy our drinks a bit first.  He then related the specials (well, okay) and left.   We did peruse the menu after a sipping for a while, and nothing leapt off the page.  Heat and Burgers or Brisket Sandwiches don’t particularly tempt on a hot day, Spicy Sausage Panini? likewise.  So upon Wes’s third request (and mindful we had miles to go) I decided on the omelet of the day (bacon and cheddar with sautéed peppers – nothing special) with a house salad and MFO got the: Annapolitan Flatbread:  Crabmeat, Spinach, Caramelized Onions,Bacon, White Crab Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese.  

The food was quite good, although my house salad was a bit soggy.  We did split a dessert of a lemon curd cheese cake with two forks.  It was quite good.  Although what i assumed was a bread plate remained empty on the table from start to finish, we never did see any bread

We finally left, and I was disappointed that I was somewhat disappointed.   For the first time, we were given a reason to be disappointed.  Please don’t get me wrong, we certainly will go back but finding a little crack in what we always considered flawless was unsettling.  Maybe the combination of the late lunch hour (we were the only occupants), and the heat.  But, however, comma, we both were certainly


Sunday, August 28, 2016

This and that type of posting...

Well, one of my loyal fans won’t like this, but this edition will be a little short on food again.  Somehow this weather kind of stifles the desire for dining, and only then something light like fish or a salad..  So before we do the food related reporting a couple of short comments on …… sports.

And to my (unusual) credit, it will be mostly positive!  No rants.  In years past, I would go off on the Little League World Series which concludes today.  The championship game is between a team from New York and one from South Korea.  The brackets are “rigged” such that an international team and an American are guaranteed to meet for the championship.  Maybe that’s fair, but sometimes the second place International team looks to be better than the American champion. 

Back to positive.. I kind of got caught up in the tournament this year, it somehow didn’t seem as silly as it appeared to me in previous years.  No sobbing kids after striking out, rather it looked like they all had fun and didn’t take themselves too seriously.  There were a few pitchers that could really bring it.  Fun to watch.    Of course parents will always be parents and there were still the usual cadre of “moms” decked out and acting silly in the stands.  One covered her eyes on every pitch when her kid was at bat.

I seldom watch MLB games at all, but found I was a fan of John Kruk as a “color man” in the booth.  Had clever things to say and generally would not sugar coat anything. Plus, he's kind of a food guy.

And while we’re being positive I have to admit that I am becoming a fan of Soccer.   I enjoy watching it on TV, primarily the international teams.  I don’t watch the “pro’s” here in America, just the big boy leagues in Europe and Great Britain (Manchester United, Real Madrid, etc.).   As I mentioned to my BIL who was a referee for a while, I think I might like it for mostly odd reasons..

·        Continuous action, very little commercials
·        I really enjoy the foreign announcers, very entertaining
·        No stupid “sideline” announcer women (sorry, it’s just that females seem to be the norm in the US) asking penetrating questions like: “what was going through your mind when….”
·        The candid shots of the fans in the stands
·        The enthusiasm of the fans themselves, singing, wild costumes, etc.
·        And, I am getting to appreciate the skill level shown in the higher leagues.  Crisp passing with a strategic plan and not just kick it as far down the field as you can and hope for the best…
·        What I still DON’T enjoy is the falling down, rolling around, looking in mortal agony until there is no foul called, then get up a trot away (yes, there are occasional real injuries or at least ouchies).   But apparently it is an accepted part of the game.

The game seems to be growing in popularity here in the US, as evidenced by today’s “Sports on TV” table in our local paper.  The listings for today revealed:

3 NFL games; 4 MLB games (plus two little league); 6 Golf events; 2 WNBA; 2 Auto Racing; 1 High School Football; 1 Beach Volleyball,  and…11 Soccer games spread over 7 outlets (including beIN, which I don’t get).  Not sure if there’s a statement there or not.

And maybe it’s time for Tony Romo to begin thinking about retiring..

Okay, back to food. 

Alert readers will know that I rail (or rant) against the invasion of Chains in our county making it harder and harder for independents to survive.  Well, in one of the little news blips I get there was an encouraging article the other day containing some interesting statistics.  It quoted some July data that showed chains had a 1.4 percent drop in sales, while independents produced a “robust 5-percent gain”.  One of the reasons proposed was the previous to the “social media” explosion, chains could afford extensive and aggressive marketing, which the independents could not match.  But “the social media era may have created a powerful new resource that levels the playing fields for independents: review sites like Yelp.”  A Harvard Business School professor looked at the effect Yelp reviews had on both types of restaurants.  He found a significant impact for independent restaurants, but no relationship between Yelp ratings and revenues for chains, and Yelp causes demand to shift from chains to independents.

Of course the hazard with things like Yelp and TripAdvisor are that any schlub such as myself can get on there and give an unfair review maybe based on a bad day.  One kind of has to consider the volume of comments to hopefully get a true picture of a place.   Anyway, I thought it an interesting piece. 

Speaking of Chains, this caught my eye the other day:

"Diners across the country will have one fewer salad bar to peruse with their lunch or dinner, as Ruby Tuesday announced it will close nearly 100 restaurants by the end of the year. 

Tennessee-based Ruby Tuesday revealed in its fourth quarter report on Thursday that it will close 95 under performing locations by the end of the year as part of a “Fresh Start Initiative.”"

The location here in First Colony was not on a list of potential closures...

We are now inside our month window (Yikes!) from our trip to Cornwall.  The organizers of our trip (Cole Travel) have gone to a model of staying at least two nights in the same location.  Generally we have a dinner at the Hotel one night but are on our own for another night.  Which of course drives the Feeder to such sites as above (Yelp and TripAdvisor) to ferret out likely spots.  Great fun, but also a lot of work.  We will be free one night in Salisbury, Exeter, and Falmouth.   If perchance some of the readership has any suggestions, they will be considered!  I have nailed down two of the three, but still am working on Falmouth.  In future postings I’ll reveal my choices. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Getting the Edge...

As any aspiring wanna be chef or home cook knows, probably the most important tool (aside from talent) in the array of kitchen gadgets and paraphernalia is a good set of knives.   I should say a good set of sharp knives.  Here is the array available to the Feeder and MFO.  And with a couple of exceptions most are used a lot

Here's a quick tour with notes (right to left)

Offset serrated blade “Bread knife”.  We find lots of uses for this one (seldom used for bread)  quite useful

“French” style Chef’s knife (Flat blade near handle for dicing and mincing).  This is my favorite knife and was the first “real” knife I acquired when my interest in cooking got serious.  So I would guess that that blade is upper thirties years old.  It is a Sabatier, a long time French maker of cutlery

Newer style chef’s knife, a bit stouter than above so use for heavier work (Henckel)

Filet or Boning knife, kind of a flexible blade

Small Chef Knife for more delicate work

Paring knife

Smaller knife.  A note here, this knife came from a box of camping equipment that my parents had for years.  That would place it maybe in the seventy year old range.   MFO likes it because with her slightly arthritic hands it is easier to manage.

Slicing and Carving knives, serrated round end and non serrated pointy end.  These only get used at thanksgiving for turkeys and larger cuts like standing rib roasts.

And underlying all, the trusty steel for honing the edge before almost every use.  NOT used for sharpening..

All the blades are stored in the drawer under the counter, along with other good things like the Oxy peeler, a microplane, the very useful “Lamson Sharp” spatula for delicate things like fish.  Fairly flexible; and the brutal cleaver.

And until I actually looked at this picture, I forgot I had that sharpening stone back there..

And just to complete the counter-top tour (Isn’t this riveting reading?) we got all sorts of other tools.   I am more and more gravitating toward the wooden implements.

And before we got involved in touring he feeder's knife drawer, we mentioned that having sharp knives is crucial to good kitchen technique.  All of the cutlery above was gathered over a number of years, and keeping them all sharp is a daunting task.  Old traditional me, for years I used what is lovingly called a Norton Tri – Stone

Inside is a triangular set of stones of varying grit from coarse to fine

So you get some honing oil, (usually) start with the coarse one (showing above) and stroke your blade to even it, then gradually get to the finer ones to produce a sharp edge.  Controlling the angle takes quite a bit of skill and it is a long process.   So finally the Feeder caved in and purchased an electric model, a Chef’s Choice 1520 diamond wheel model

It is built to handle both “European/American” traditional knives with a twenty degree bevel (each side) and also slots for the newer, very trendy, and EXPENSIVE “Japanese” or Asian blades which have a slightly skinnier fifteen degree bevel.  

The slots make it easy to maintain the correct angle.  The third set of slots to the right are to “hone” the blade as it seems stroking it through the grinding slots produces a “burr” so you run it through the last set a few times when you’re done to remove it, which it does quite nicely.

I’m still learning but it seems like a serviceable device.  One more gadget in the kitchen..

All that glitters…Olympic ramblings

No, I’m not going to give the medal standings…nor am I going to comment on Ryan Lochte’s amazing situation..

What I will comment on (verging on Rants) are a few things I observed watching the games, which for the most part (see, I can be positive) have been enjoyable to see. 

Commercials:   I continue to be amused at Chevy claiming that their ads are populated by “Real People, Not Actors”, although I do share the opinion that (some) actors are actually not “real”. 

And an interesting comment on American culture  is that there is a commercial (Samsung?) showing groups of people clustered around a TV, or kids peering into glowing devices, while the musical background vocal proclaims “everything is better on a screen”.  Life is better when you don’t have to interact with actual human beings (I guess real people).

And the “sideline ladies” keep topping themselves.   Was watching the semi-final of the women’s volleyball (a great sport for both genders) and the US lost the tense match to the Ukraine team.  The teams split the four sets and then went to the (15 point by two) tie breaker which the Americans lost 15 – 13. It was a thrilling match with great plays on both sides, but in the end the Ukraine was victorious by the narrowest possible margin.   So here’s what’s her name announcer sticking the microphone in Karch Kiraly’s face, a class guy whom I am sure felt like he had just had his heart kind ripped, out and actually said:  “Coach you lost that tie breaker!  What went wrong?”; thereby (IMHO) displaying a complete lack of understanding of sports and the typical position that the USA is entitled to win every game, and so when they don’t, something is “wrong”.  I have to admire coach Kiraly’s response in: a) not shoving the microphone down her throat; and b) calmly making a very classy answer pointing out that the Ukraine was a very good team, both teams played their guts out, and they just made some plays that the USA didn’t.  He gets it.  He’s been there.   The USA team went on to win the Bronze medal. 

Well, tomorrow is the end of the 2016 Olympics, and I guess it didn’t turn out as bad as the pre-event dire predictions made it out to be.  I enjoyed soccer (without the Hope Solo antics), the golf (I’ll bet Rory, Jordan, Dustin, etc., regret their decision now), and like most, the “off beat” sports like white water canoeing, race walking, and some of the equestrian events.   Badminton and table tennis are not sports I am familiar with.  And as I wrap this up, they are broadcasting women’s mountain biking.  Wow…  (I tuned away from the women’s gold medal BBall game, figuring Auriemma’s ladies could pull out the game when leading Spain by 30 in the third quarter)

I would not be devastated if NBC did not get the next contract but probably have or will.  I hope their ratings plummet.

Wonder if there are culinary categories?  If not, I’ll be content to


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Summer Solace

As another blogger of some fame once said:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;

In this case, each tomorrow seems to bring more unrelenting heat and humidity with glaring sun, very occasionally punctuated by a storm.   We had a doozy last night with plenty of lightning, but fortunately no hits this time, although the generator came on briefly.  Oh, did I ever mention that I played Macbeth in our high school senior play?  While the above could refer to the weather, the rest of quote is:

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Which of course has deeper, darker meaning..  That passage has remained a favorite of mine since high school, which of course has been quite a while..  Anyway, the weather has kind of driven me into depression.. sorry to share...

On a cheerier note, back to more pertinent topics, like restaurants.  

One of the rumors of closings was debunked when Cow and Fish was recently only closed for a week or so.  The other place rumored for shuttering was apparently just that, an unfounded rumor. 

"Something" is going on at the original "CoCo's/Lone Star" location in "the park".  the sign has been taken down, and there are "trade trucks" there almost every day.  I have feelers out, but no info has come back.  Stay Tuned.  

The Coffee Quarter in San Souci has applied for a liquor license.  Not a bad idea, methinks.  At the very least, Irish Coffee!

And another application to the Alcohol Beverage Board was received from “Hacienda Los Guayabos”.  From the address, I am guessing that it might be the old “Charlie’s Deli” south of Gate Three.  Good Luck to them…

New Quarters...
We had an interesting afternoon earlier this week.  As some might recall, years ago MFO did a lot of Archivist work for Historic St. Mary’s City, organizing their corporate records for their certification effort.  Most of which are slumbering quietly in the basement of Calvert Hall on the campus of St. Mary’s College.  She still occasionally helps the City with various Archivist activities, kind of the ad hoc archivist.   Although the structure is primarily for the college, the City will have a building of their own in which to house offices and the collections, both historical artifacts (from digs) and also the corporate stuff.  So, MFO is going to help with the move of her records from the basement to storage in the new buildings.  So we happened to be down at the City this week, and while I did some Foundation work, she went over to the current research building (a dump) to talk about the move with the curator of collections. 

He suggested we go look at the new facility so we got an impromptu tour of the City’s wing of the new facility.   Now, not many of you have had the opportunity to see what these people have worked in for years and years, but seeing these new labs; huge storage capability (those big shelves that move around on tracks); sinks with those faucets on slinkys, hoods,  is amazing.  After spending years in the basement of the HSMC visitor center sharing spaces with six and eight legged creatures along with occasional no legged six foot serpents, MFO is extremely jealous.  But, she will still be involved occasionally so hopefully be able to enjoy the new digs. 

This is a giant step for Historic St. Mary’s City and harkens in a new era of archeology.  Good for them.

Mainly, it isn’t bounding..

One of the pleasures of living “on the water” as they say, is that during the summer, we are treated to a front row seat for the Wednesday night sailboat “races”.   Lately they have pretty much turned into “drifting”,   

When there is enough breeze, the lovely spinnakers can come out

And occasionally the Dee from the museum comes out showing us what a lovely vessel the skipjack is

And although neither red nor sunset, the sails are pretty in the evening moon glow.

And lots of times we see all this as we are


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Furnace..

Well, I wish I could report that I spent yesterday out in the back forty plowing the fields, but: a) I don’t have a back forty (or a plow, for that matter), and b) the temperatures and conditions outside recall the “mad dog and Englishmen” quote.  Instead, I stayed inside and watched the Olympics. 

Speaking of which, thanks to a lot of people for expressing the same sentiment I ranted about with NBC coverage.  With all the other outlets in their “network”, you can now find a lot of live coverage.  I must admit I am not a devotee of fencing for instance, but it is there if you want it.  I would appreciate more coverage of the “off-beat” sports, I don’t think they have covered whatever is “race walking”, or a shooting contest (archery not included), and I did catch some of what they call “sailing’ which looked more like wind surfing. 

So, before getting back to my bread and butter, just a comment or two about Thursday’s actions.  The (USA) women’s soccer team lost the chance to capture both the World Cup and the Gold Medal at the same time.  They lost on penalty kicks, really a rough way to lose after battling on the field for 120 minutes of match plus extra time.  I am still learning about the rules, but the “color” person on the broadcast team very politely said that (paraphrased) the referee sucked.  She disallowed a goal for each team, and missed several what the person thought were offside calls, and made some that she thought were not.  Anyway, a tough loss for our team.  Not so the case for the lady basketball team who eked out a narrow win over Canada 81 to 51.   And as I type, USA men are gearing up for the game against Serbia..{a three point victory for the USA}

And lastly with all the respect she deserves, I am getting tired of seeing Simone Biles.  Enough already.. Three hundred “highlight” clips are about enough, and…… Oh, excuse me, I have to go get some Tide wash packets, or maybe a Hersey candy bar. 

Back to bread and butter..

I was told about another “restaurant” which will be moving into the old Winegardner  renovated used car building in Leonardtown.  When I heard “Urban BBQ” would be joining nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, I thought “good, an independent!”  wrong, it’s a chain with about 13 outlets sprinkled around Maryland.  Then just the other day I learned that “Jessie’s Kitchen” will be moving in.  Great I thought again.  Maybe an independent will be joining them!  Wrong again!  While Jessie’s Kitchen is sneaky enough to NOT have a bona fide web site, it does throw you to a facebook page that leads you to believe that there is more than ours.  I hope I'm wrong.

It’s interesting to me that the Business Association of the town of Leonardtown (a most convenient place) is kind of dedicated to creating an "Artistic" collection venues, such as art and craft galleries, boutique shops, a coffee shop, a chocolatier, and unique restaurants (the new Café Des Artistes now slated for late August).  So that is taking place around "the square" at one end of town, yet the “planning and zoning” commission seems hell bent on “Waldorfization” the other end of the street.   Tough competition.  When you’re a chain you can spread losses across the enterprise, but if you’re a one of, every cent is yours.  I would not be so bold to suggest a boycott, but do consider where you spend your money.  “Buy Local” is not just a catch phrase..


stay cool.. think snow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Olympic Ranting Event.

Usually I wait a couple of days between feeders so as not to overload you, and give you a chance to “catch up” before another beautifully conceived and written posting pops into your mail box.  Because of the kind of topical nature of this issue (mostly a rant) I sort of wanted to get it out.  So if you haven’t had a chance to see the one about the lunch at the Hay Adams, scroll down to "PM part" and take a look.  There is civility.

Bi- yearly Olympic Rant: 

Last Friday night, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony took place.  Since I was fresh off the surgery, I thought a nice interlude watching the pageantry would at least take my mind off it.   Having to suffer the “Today” show crew led by Matt “I love me” Lauer was bad enough, but it soon became apparent that it was on “tape delay”.  What?  Something that only occurs every two years (if you include winter version) and you are not going to show it live?  What?  It would not be as bad if they then showed it continuously.  But no, it was “packaged” coverage.  “We’ll be right back after this brief (4 minute) break”.  It just broke up the flow. 

And I’m sure there are some who read this who also “do Facebook”, and I was so mad that I posted something during the coverage and was pleased to see that there were many of similar attitude.

Another voice..
Last Sunday in the WaPo (clever contraction of Washington Post) Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist whose work I really like, had a column about the NBC coverage called “NBC’s packaged coverage not a gift for viewers”.   It was a bit complicated, but according to Sally, NBC decided that “Women don’t watch the Olympics for the live results; they watch it for the narrative”.  She quoted NBC’s chief marketing officer who stated that: “more women watch the Olympics games than men (Interesting) and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey”. In other words, in his estimation women don’t care who wins, so much as their personal life, so they push the “up close and personal” aspect rather than covering the event in real time.  Anyway, the overnight ratings of the telecast were 16.5, the lowest since 1992.  And if that’s the approach to sports coverage NBC wants, Sally says why don’t they apply the same theory to the NFL?  “Delay and collapse the games in favor of sugary features showing childhood films of the Manning brothers  on a swing set instead of wasting viewers’ time with a penalty-filled second half?”  and, she closes her column with “If NBC wants to attract and retain Olympic viewers, it better up its game and stop making people so frustrated and impatient.”   AMEN.

If you’re watching the coverage, how many times have you had to endure endless features of Simone Biles as a kid (she’s not far removed now), or a cherubic Katie Ledecky in a little pool?  Boy, that’s what I want to see!  Never mind the actual competition we can see that later!

Whew, that got longer than I thought it would, but I like her sentiment.  The ceremony coverage was pretty much a disaster..other irritations:

I have (had) utmost respect for “coach K”.   What I don’t understand is why he associates himself with a bunch of overpaid (in layman terms), prima donna athletes who live in a world of “me first”, “there IS an “I” in team (in fact I AM the team)”, and are changing teams to chase a ring.  Loyalty to fans?  Naaahhh…Of course it is not illegal to populate an Olympic team with professional athletes and we are “blessed” with the best basketball players in the world.  It is just kind of painful to watch them blow out teams by 50 or 60 points, and celebrate like they just won the NBA playoff.  And I heard (and didn’t verify) that in the game against the Chinese, up by 40 or so that they did rock, paper, scissors, to determine who would shoot a technical foul.  A great testament to our athlete’s respect of opponents and displaying the true spirit of American sport.  Sure makes you proud!  Coach K – did you give the order?  Who’s in control of this team?

And to some extent, the women will also waltz to the Gold Medal, but maybe Auriemma can keep the reins a bit tighter..after all, 90% of the players came through under his tutelage. 

(Speaking of) Medals….
This is another case where the so called “media” should be criticized, not the athletes, but they’re already starting it.   Every time a medal is awarded the next screen you see is the “medal count”.  It doesn’t matter about individual performances, the only thing that matters is “did you win a medal?” and by God, we’re a couple of medals better than the Chinese!  That proves we’re the “best”… because here in America all we care about is being the best (Chef, quarterback, shortstop….)  For the Olympic athlete in a non glamour sport who devote their life and years of training… sacrifice for something they love, giving their all… ptooie!  who cares? did you get a medal?

(Speaking of) Speaking of……
Sideline announcers:   so I swim my event, jump out of the pool dripping wet, and before I can get a towel, Michelle Tafoya sticks a microphone up my nose and says “what was going through your mind when….”, or:  “what were you thinking when …”, or “how were you able to…”; not “congratulations on your performance, good luck”  Nope you gotta have this in depth psychological exploration of the thoughts of the athletes (journey, not the outcome?).  And it is not just her (Michelle) it is the entire cadre of the “sideline announcers”, most of whom are the women we see at football or basketball games asking the coaches at half time “how are you going to come back from this 25 point deficit”?  is there a handbook entitled “Inane, Stupid, and Irrelevant questions for the uneducated” that they are given?

Okay, done for this year….by the way, I think I just learned that the finals for the team gymnastic competition (with Ms. Biles, etc.) will take place this (Tuesday) afternoon, but we won’t be allowed to see it until tonight during NBC prime time coverage.   Thank you NBC.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

PM part

Experience Number two (PM) from the DC expedition: lunch and a lesson..(and, maybe some unavoidable comments on the Olympics)

A bit of delay occurred between “experience” one and two, caused by a Friday visit to the dermatologist surgeon to have yet another “thing” removed.  This one (of many) was particularly unpleasant since it was on my lip.  The visage of the Feeder and his condition are left to the fertile imagination of the reader..(there is a selfie that will remain buried)

Back to business:  As you recall, Experience One was our morning visit to the Police Memorial and ended with a slightly damp Feeder (In his DFL clothes, sans tie) meeting MFO in the flutter mobile on the curb and then proceeding to the Hay Adams Hotel for lunch.  As you might again recall, we had lunch there in October of 2010 (I just looked it up) and had a wonderful experience, and were looking forward to a repeat.  Again our navigation was flawless and we got to the Hotel with no untoward side trips or narrow escapes.  We had inquired as to whether or not the Hotel offered valet parking and the answer was yes, with a fee of $28 attached.   You may utter a expletive here (as did we) but given our experience with (lack of) parking at the Memorial, and the thought of walking after a lunch including a glass of wine, it isn’t so bad.  As a matter of fact, the price of almost anything from here on out wasn’t a factor.  LWISTBR* as FOJTE is fond of saying.   

So we pulled up under the portico of the Hotel, and immediately two gentlemen came and opened my door as well as (Driver) MFO with a “Welcome to the Hay Adams”.  We told them we were here for lunch and would like to have valet parking.  Of course, sir.  Whereupon he went over to the other side of the car, opened the rear door, got my coat off the hangar, brought it around, helped me into it, and after I asked, gave me directions to the men’s room to don my neck-ware.   And when I asked about payment, he said “Oh, twenty is fine”.  Lovely..

So we went into the lobby with another greeting by the footmen in the lobby, and one led me to the men’s room where I affixed my tie.  So, finally (cooled off and) DFL, we approached the stairs to the Lafayette Room where lunch is served.   We told the hostess at the top of the stairs who we were, and although it was only one o’clock (reservation at half past), could we be seated?  Given that the restaurant was empty behind her, we were not surprised that with a smile she said: Oh, I think we can fit you in.  We were led to one of the kind of alcoves in the room which breaks it up,  and offered a window table overlooking the quiet street in front of the hotel.  Lovely.  Next to our table was the only other occupied table, a table of seven or eight of varying ages, all nicely dressed .   At one point we overheard: “I’ll call the ambassador in the morning”.   Power people indeed!

We were given a lovely basket of bread of varying types, and the crystal water glasses filled.

Meanwhile, the (apparently) only server in the room was tending to the “power table” next to us, asking about cappuccino’s, coffees, and so on.  Apparently they were regulars as they seemed to be familiar with the server.  While we enjoyed the bread and relaxed with the water, the server did not approach our table until we were seated for eight minutes.  (Yes, I am sick, I timed it).  It was a long time, especially because I wanted a drink!  Eight minutes seemed like a long time, since he was within four feet of us several times serving coffees to the other table.   More about this later.

Well, he eventually asked about drinks, and I asked if they had Plymouth Gin.. he didn’t know, but he would go check with the bartender and left the wine list with MFO.  Server returned with the information that they did not have Plymouth Gin (I won’t remount my soap box here), but did have Hendrick’s.  The wine list was interesting with some unusual selections. 

MFO selected the  2014 Hubert Brochard Sancerre, and once again I settled for the Hendrick's Martini.  Maybe I will have to start carrying a flask!  Both arrived to an internal welcome!

As an aside, the size of the Martini is not exaggerated by the camera, it was very generous.   Nuff said.  

With our thirst slaked and our temperament improved, we turned to considering food.  The menu had several tempting dishes (Seafood Boudin Blanc; Maine Lobster Sandwich; Pan Seared Arctic Char…), plus our server told us about a special of a Seafood Fricasee of scallops, shrimp, clams and Red Snapper.  MFO selected a Marcona Almond Gaspacho for her starter and Pistachio Crusted Diver Scallops in a Saffron sauce, and I had a chicken crab soup and the Fricassee (an unusual offering).   I also selected a TR Eliott 2013 Pinot as I finally finished the Martini. 

With the “power table” gone, we received attentive and considerate service for the rest of the meal.  Our food was delicious, here is the Fricassee  - gorgeous, look at that!

We did go for dessert, a chocolate Crème Brûlée with two spoons

Which we didn’t much care for

Ha ha…

Another great experience, although I would be less than candid if I said I would forget the “eight minutes”.     It is nice to know there are havens of gracious service, good food, in relaxed elegant surroundings.  It was a quite expensive (three figure) lunch, but worth it…

And speaking of the “eight minutes”, I spoke with one of my restaurateur friends who has visited the HA hotel several times, and agrees with my appreciation of the place.  I was provided some perspective on our experience from the "back of the room/manager" point of view.  It all once again is rooted in the basic “it’s a business” reminder.  With one server in the area, he had to choose between a table of eight which included regulars, and probably people who visit weekly, or an unknown two top.  You figure out where you would direct your main effort.  I will admit I think a “welcome folks, I’ll be right with you” would have gone a long way to help me, but I sort of understand.

When we left, our (already cooled off) car was waiting for us, we climbed in and headed back to SOMD, concluding a journey of a harrowing morning followed by a lovely meal for which we were elegantly


Sports footnote:  I was going to rant on the Olympics, but don’t want to change the tone to hostility.  Suffice to say, there are times when I am not glad to be a USA citizen…

*LWISTBR = Living Well Is Still The Best Revenge

Thursday, August 4, 2016

AM and PM

Well, we broke out of our recent dining doldrums last Tuesday.  It was kind of a tale of two experiences morning and afternoon. 

Experience one: and we’ll see if we need to break this into two postings – you know me..

As you know, MFO is part of a small group of “history ladies” that is assisting our Sheriff in writing a book about the history of that office in St. Mary’s County.  She said she needed a photo of part of the National Law Enforcement Officers Monument up in DC.  So we planned a journey up there, and decided to couple it with a return luncheon visit to the Hay Adams hotel as sort of a reward for venturing up to the Big City.   We seem to avoid going up there much anymore.  But with that motivation we made an open table reservation at the Lafayette Room for 1:30, and decided to launch from here about ten.  In years past we would park and “metro” into the city.  But, I really didn’t want to have a lovely lunch and then expedition on metro with all the issues they have had lately.  So I did my research on MS Streets and Trips and generated maps.   I decided on the tried and true route of going up Route 4 (which turns into Pennsylvania Ave) through Calvert and boring in past the capitol
to the Mall.  Both destinations (Police Memorial and Hay Adams) are slightly north of the Mall across from Judiciary Square Metro (“X”), and the restaurant near Lafayette Park (circle):

Figured we could find “on the street” parking and even had the foresight to obtain a roll of quarters before departing. 

I must admit, for once we had a flawless journey up.  We didn’t end up: a) lost; or b) in Virginia which believe me has happened often enough.  As usual, as we left Southern Maryland the speed of cars was inversely proportional to the distance from DC, and I’m not sure it is a linear relationship.   Anyway, we finally arrived near the Memorial,  near the National Building Museum (so often the “office” of my Southern Maryland Blog Support expert).  And, which is also near the court complex (appeals, district, etc.), which is also clogged with litigants and solicitors, most of whom seem to want to drive their cars.  And due to construction in the area, there are even less parking places which were already in short supply.  Can’t find a place? worries!... just pull up parallel with a parked car, turn on your blinkers, get out, and go on about your business.  Never mind that it reduces the street to one lane, the hell with them.   

So, after a couple of trips around the block we finally decided that finding a spot to park the vehicle was pointless.  So, reluctantly, MFO dropped me and the gear off in front of the Building Museum and said she would circle the block until I got the shots.  

We always find the Memorial a sobering experience. 

Two long walls contain names of Police Officers who died in the line of duty (referred to as "end of watch"). 

Hard to tell from the image, but the lines on the wall below and to the left of the lion are the listings.  It is a huge (and, as we all know a growing) list.  Years ago, we attended the annual service honoring recent additions with FOJTY, whose partner's name was incorporated onto the wall.  Quite a emotional experience.

At any rate, I busied myself getting the shot MFO wanted, being a bit nervous with her circling the block.  To get a really perfect shot, I would have taken longer, worrying about the sun which caused shadows, different f stops, ISO ratings and such but finally I got the shot with the words she wanted

Although mercifully the temperatures were relatively moderate, I was a bit sodden (we had to wear most of our DF(L) duds).  I waited by the curb until she appeared and (relieved) we headed for “experience two”

At this point I realize that due to my penchant for over describing things, I had better spare us both by breaking here and do the luncheon experience in another post, so we’ll close for now with the admonishment to always

DF…  whatever meal is next