Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bytes and Bites...with a Pint

Before a pint, a quick update on the technology “upgrade”.  This edition is being created with the Lenovo, which pretty much successfully transitioned to W10 and even made my Lightroom (economical Adobe Photoshop) behave.  So there is some hope for the big boy laptops return (read on).

As is probably abundantly apparent, I am pretty much a Luddite when it comes to this stuff.  We did have an initial return of said Laptop the other day, and on a trial run of Lightroom, it appeared that ALL my images (which are stored on an external hard drive and connected through a USB port) were GONE.  Fortunately the automatic backup to a NAS device had them, but it made my heart stop for a minute.  Well, it turns out, that although you would think a simple USB connection wouldn’t care about the operating system,  it  certainly does.. windows 10 somehow closes the window (get it?) on the ports and you have to have another driver (not the Miss Daisy type) to allow the computer to “see” them.  Our techy guy worked long and hard but couldn’t make them work, so the machine had to go back to the shop for further work.  On top of that, when it was upgraded to “10” a bunch of programs didn’t “translate” as expected so they had to be reinstalled from scratch, one of which was Lightroom.  So, once the port issue is settled I will have a vanilla copy to begin with.  There are a lot of “pre-sets” associated with export and import of images, etc., and those will maybe have to be re created.  I realize that most of the readership will respond with “who the hell cares?” and only a small percentage who either know me well, or also push a lot of words around will realized the angst this causes me.

Okay, speaking of pushing words around, lets push a few in the direction of

Why did they choose THAT airplane for their logo?  Argghhhh

The “just right” team of three converged there yesterday for an initial looksee at the place, and of course lunch.  Going in, we (I) knew it was not eligible to join the honor roll of “just right” mostly because it is very new, recently remodeled, etc., etc.  And when I say that, if you have ever been in the space in its many incarnations over the years, you might not notice much different.  Same layout – pretty plain..

I arrived as the first of our triumvirate and was presented with the menu and also the beverage list.  Since the place has “ale house” in the name, one would expect that there would be a nice selection of fermented beverages.  And, indeed they do have quite a few options

Although bud light appears there are some interesting labels, including some “local” breweries like Mully’s, DuClaw, and Heavy Seas, so you should be able to find something to your taste.
I am not (to borrow a local club’s name) a “hop head”, so IPA’s and the like are not to my liking.  I prefer a darker brew, like Guinness, or a stout of some sort.  So I selected the “Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout”, from Colorado.  All the (draft) taps are lined up behind the bar

But if you don’t want to squint at the list or read the taps, all the beers are colorfully listed on the wall!

About this time, our second teammate arrived and he selected the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel brew from Lexington, Kentucky.   Conversation like the suds flowed and pretty soon we were full strength, and turned our attention to the food menu, a one sheet menu serves all, with everything from appetizers to sandwiches to entrees somewhere on the two sided menu…  the burger selection is pretty standard (which you probably can’t read)

While perusing the menu I discovered either an oddity or a flat out mistake.  Here’s the top two burgers from the menu somewhat enlarged

The entry under “Ale House Burger” at the top of the list which should be their featured dish, says it has CAB, and seasoned ground lamb, and Tzatziki sauce!. Somehow, that doesn’t sound like a good old American burger.  Reading on, below that, is the “Hellenic” Delight is composed of the CAB and feta, along with Mozzarella and other burger stuff.. Now if I’m not mistaken, Hellenic generally refers to Greece and it’s culture.  And when you think of Greece and a sandwich, what comes to mind?   A Gyro (Hee – ro, NOT Jiiii-Ro) which is generally made with ground lamb, and ground beef, spices, etc., and finished with….Tzatziki sauce!!  So the Hellenic Delight only gives a nod to Hellenic culture by adding Feta cheese to an otherwise good old American burger.  Methinks they may have transposed things.  I didn’t mention the possibility to our server who was fairly attentive without being pushy or “cute”.   Anyway, I ordered the Patty Melt, and we rounded out the table with a Chicken Pot Pie, a Greek Salad and a Chicken Pita.

Mercifully she asked how I wanted my meat cooked, and didn’t point to some menu note saying they only “served well done meat to ensure…..”

The food was brought out by a runner who didn’t know “who had the…?” which is not hard to arrange, but we all got what we ordered.   My Patty Melt was sizable, cooked right, but served on that culinary abomination, marble rye.  We’ve had that discussion before in relation to a Reuben, but a patty melt should never sport that ugly stuff.  The interior was good enough, caramelized onions, and melted cheese.  The fries while probably food service in origin were fairly tasty.  

Another oddity was those tiny pickle chips in the corner of the plate

What their purpose is, I’m not sure.  What are you supposed to do with them?

The pot pie was described as delicious

With plenty of chicken and a good crunchy crust.   Salad and Pita were good, probably borrowed the Tzatziki from the Ale House burger.

It had been a while since we were able to mesh travel, work and social schedules, so it was fun to get together.  As for the venue, I wouldn’t by any means NOT go there, but wouldn’t particularly go out of my way, although it’s probably fine if you just want to try some interesting beers, and eat something to dilute the alcohol..(all based on one visit mind you)

And based on what we saw I wouldn’t worry too much about

PS… You know how things like “Grandparents Day” are one of those “holidays” contrived by the Hallmark folks?   Well, here’s another… Fox Sports channel began running commercials with NASCAR vehicles in the background, informing me that it was only X days to “Daytona Day”.  I never heard of that before… Daytona Day?  Good Grief!  It’s an auto race for heaven’s sake. And from what I understand, this race is the biggest race of the season, which begins today.  Sort of like playing the Super Bowl before the regular season. I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but I know a lot of people are, so have fun.  I do enjoy an occasional open wheel race once in a while, like the Monaco Grand Prix.  At least they turn left AND right.. 

Monday, February 20, 2017


There may be a dark period for the feeder for a bit.   He is going to "upgrade" the laptop (home of the feeder) to Windows 10.  we have already migrated on (this) desktop, and I had a devil of a time getting to the "blogger" site for this heads up.. 

So, I will hold my breath as the laptop goes to the "IT" department. 

Another (laptop) concern is the compatibility with Lightroom which is the poor (not really) man's version of Photoshop.  So, who the hell knows what is going on.   Southern Maryland Blog Support may go on notice!

and just another little rant to start your (holi)day.  Does this happen to you?  You know on the various "bulk" boxes for K-Cups, Cheez Its, AA battery packages, and other products there are little serrations in the cardboard to ostensibly give you a nice little dispenser carton.. Right... Well, try as I might, as careful as I am, INVARIABLY the damn thing rips right down the middle, rendering it useless.  So you have a pile of (whatever) and another candidate for the recycle bin..

TTFN and,


Friday, February 17, 2017

Bovine and Pisces

Clever, eh?

The possibilities are almost endless:  Dogies and Dogfish, Hereford and Hake, Charolais and Catfish, Angus and Angler, on and on….

You might get the drift that we revisited Cow and Fish the other night, which would be true. We were pleased to see that some improvements have been effected since our earlier visits.   Timing was much better this time, no long periods between courses, and entrees did not arrive on top of appetizers, and no incessant “how is everything?”.  Although we had a different server, ours did not ask me to cut into the steak to "see if it was okay".  The other server did ask an adjoining table that question.   I am of two minds on that issue, I would prefer the former approach showing confidence in the kitchen to produce the degree of doneness requested (although I admit that it is a bit subjective), but it does save a potential round of sending things back (which should be rare (ha ha) and hope that your dish is well done). 

This time a bartender was on duty (I asked) and did not do the drink test, rather asked for a Gin Martini, up with a lemon twist. Unfortunately the choices of Gin were only the first two of the holy trinity (Bombay, Tanqueray, Beefeater).  I suppose in a smaller venue, having a bottle of some esoteric brand gathering dust isn’t economical..  Anyway, I chose Bombay and received

Although I prefer a classic “up” glass, the stemless version is increasingly common. I suppose it is driven by less breakage, less trouble for the transit from the bar to the table, etc.  It certainly can't match the beauty of a well turned out Martini.  However, that is NOT an unripe lemon, nor a slice of jalapeño which it resembles, but in fact a “twist” of lime.   At that point I figured citrus is citrus (plus I was thirsty) and didn’t object. MFO had a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

I don’t believe their menu has changed since day one (as evidenced by the tattered edge creeping into the picture above), but they do offer specials, I think maybe three or four on that evening…We decided on a starter of the always reliable Patatas Bravas, and I chose of the of specials, a “blackened” rib eye, and MFO selected grilled salmon from the main menu.  Neither of us selected a side salad as one of the “sides” that came with, but I thought I spied one going to another table (I always look at other tables).  Here is one of their salads as served back in April of 2016

Which makes a very nice presentation with those tomatoes at the cardinal points.  This time I thought I saw a salad arrive in a plain bowl.   Too bad if true.   All of the food had very good flavor, and my steak was medium rare and also “lightly blackened” as I had requested.   The owner stopped by the table and just chatted, without questioning the food, also a welcome touch.  My second glass of a Rioja was served from the bottle, a nice refinement which I wish would be repeated more often elsewhere…

There were perhaps four other tables and three ball caps in the restaurant, sigh.  

As an aside, one of the reasons we wound up at C&F instead of our usual haunt of the Dry Dock, is that their menu has not changed for months.  Being a regular, we have pretty much exhausted each item.  Yes, they have specials as well, but there seems to be a cycle there as well.  Of course one of the attractions for us is the “Cheers” phenomenon, greeted at the door, drink almost as you sit down, and continued pleasant service.    Sometime we can get into the relationship between quality of food and quality of service.   Bad food; great service?  Come back? How about great food; inept service?  Mediocre food; just good service?   What’s your rules?

And lastly I got a very nice note from somebody I used to work with regarding my little (Super Bowl) “observation” on violence in our culture.  While I didn’t intend to impugn “guns” or venture into the quagmire of “gun control”, my friend pointed out how much he enjoyed the sporting aspect of firearms (target, skeet, etc.,), and the fact that the NRA has lots of programs to promote safe handling, keeping, and general safety of firearms. 

Oh and cycling back to the Kow and the Koi, we are addicted to “Morse”,  a John Thaw (RIP) program on WETA UK that airs at 8pm, so we took home a slice of lemon cake and had a sip (well many) of FOJTE’s Valentine’s gift to accompany it.

Nice wrap up to the evening, and of course we were


PS, again spying on an adjacent table who ordered (off the menu?) crab balls, which arrived looking delicious, not your usual SOMD golf ball of crab stuff, but more like a Chinese dumpling one might see on a Dim Sum cart..  Think we’ll put those down instead of the Patatas next time..

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bottom of the Bowl, a wee dram, and hearts..

Before we move on to Basketball, Hockey, golf leading up to Masters, and other sports, I do want to make a (serious) comment on the recently completed American Ritual of the Super Bowl (where IS that jersey?).  In recent years, the commercials embedded (and seemingly dominating) the game itself have become a secondary competition.  I did watch some, but the quality seemed to decline this year, with maybe the exception of the Lumber 84 piece involving “the wall”.  Regardless of your political leanings, you must admit it was well done, impactful, and made a statement.  If you didn’t hear of or get a chance to see the “censored” ending, it might be worth a look..

But I digress.  I don’t think there is anybody in the country that would disagree that violence both domestic and civil has taken a dramatic increase over the last few years/months.   We decry the seemingly senseless use of guns and meaningless deaths that occur over things like road rage and escalating disagreements.   Yet, it seemed that every other “commercial” this year was devoted to things like Arnold Schwarzenegger in full military uniform, urging a call up of some military force, followed by animated images of explosions with bodies flying through the air, or some young gentleman with a stylized automatic weapon blasting away at something.   Well, all of those are just games played on an (expensive) computer for fun, correct?  But, what about the players who (IMHO) probably are young, and just learning about life.  Situation you don’t like?   POW!  Somebody who is a perceived threat?  KAWHAMMY! I dunno, just seems like we “glorify” that kind of behavior and then are amazed that it gets translated to “real” life.  Okay, stepping down.

Not quite! While I’m at it, there is another genre of (more harmless but annoying) commercials that appear every year leading up to April 15th.  Somebody now even has Watson on your side, and there’s some arrogant person who urges us to “don’t get your taxes done, get your taxes WON!”.   I guess the premise is that every schlub in America is so ignorant that the “government/IRS” is cheating you out of your own money beyond your small brain to comprehend, and by God, just have us do your taxes and we’ll chisel your money back.  We’ll close those conspiritory loopholes designed to dupe you out of your cash..  Ha ha…

Okay, Feeder you’re getting out of control.----You’re right almighty muse!  Let’s get back to more familiar territory. 

Whiskey River take my mind...
Last weekend I joined a lot of folks at the first (?) annual “Spirits of Maryland” event hosted by the Maryland Distillers Guild, in the newly opened Pax River Naval Air Museum with the catchy title of “Where the Right Stuff Meets the Strong Stuff”.  Clever, no?   The old "Bottle to Throttle" axiom went out the window for this gathering, with a mix of aircraft and spirits!

Not a Boeing person’s favorite air machine…BTW

Distilleries, like craft breweries are springing up in Maryland, and all of the distilleries providing tastings were from Maryland. There is now a distillery in good old St. Mary’s County, the Tobacco Barn Distillery (an odd juxtaposition of two “vices”) and they were displaying and dispensing their products.

While those Tobacco Barn folks produce Whiskey (can’t call it Bourbon!), Rum, and Rye, others are more specialized such as the Sagamore Distillery which (apparently only produces straight Rye), in two strengths, regular and “Cask”.  The former is a more common 83 proof, while the latter tips in at around 112.   “Tips(y)” is probably apt.  I did sample the tamer variety and kind of liked it.  By the way, we don't have space nor time to go into the history of Rye in Maryland...another time.

The fledgling Patapsco folk (from Sykesville) brought some Vodka and also T shirts! They plan to expand their line (spirits, not T shirts) soon.

There were nibbles to help soak up the alcohol, and music to please the ears

It was a nice event, well managed and everybody had a good time..  A list of the distilleries that participated can be found here

Heart to heart
And I can’t let February the 14th (today) pass without a nod to the special day.  Although common parlance calls it “Valentine’s Day” it is really “Saint Valentine’s Day” which has roots in ancient history:  “From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. ... Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Dayit is left to the reader to ponder how a holy day honoring martyred saints turned into candy hearts, roses, and candy boxes..Remember these?

Although the day can mean something different to everybody, I hope it serves to remember loved ones, either here or in memory..
The day at the digs:

And if your particular method of celebration calls for dining out, for heaven’s sake

PS:  MFO are greatly enjoying watching coverage of the Westminster Dog show, with extended coverage on National Geographic Wild if you can find it on your particular video lash up.  Lots of "behind the scenes" stuff.   Go Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, aka Grifs!  (our granddogs: Stanley and Smoke)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Bowl of Soup, and more, plus a public alert

or more properly Soup-er Bowl!

And so it was.  I hope you enjoyed the festivities.  Did you have a party?  Attend one?  I usually publish a few guidelines for a super bowl watching event, but things got away from me this year..  so I guess I’ll have to frame it as a quiz to see how you rated. 

For some reason which escapes me, it seems that Cajun or Mexican style dishes have gotten themselves to be a traditional accompaniment to the game.  Did you have Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Étouffée, Chili, Nachos, Tacos, and maybe Enchiladas?  And also over the years it has become common to see how much heat you can build into the dish.. Glistening forehead a must. 

Shrimp are a given, preferably with Remoulade sauce.

Doritos (a great sponsor of the Game) are common, as are various dips (seven layer, black bean, taco, horseradish, etc.)  A cheese tray is always appreciated; best are the ones that come from the super market and have cubes and some sort of tepid cold cuts. Bruschetta would be right on the border..  And snacks in general must have something the color of orange.

I am (as alert readers know) a big fan of harmony when it comes to food, so an event like the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of smash mouth violence, battle of the three hundred pounders, trash talking, silly celebrations, in your face behavior call for food like the above.   No Foie Gras, watercress sandwiches, dainty coquettes, just vein clogging, artery filling stuff.  And if somebody (with apologies) mentions “Vegan” they should be immediately ejected from the party site.   Now I am sure there are people who host a (for want of a better term) “gourmet” Super Bowl event, but they would be better off sponsoring a figure skating party, or maybe a ballet performance.   Football is football, dammit.

And then we get to consider what beverages should be offered.  Of course the immediate answer is: beer.   Budweiser, Miller, Coors, good old American suds (and even their (gasp again) "light" versions.   However, these days, that will probably have to be modified due to the explosion of so-called “craft beers”.  We could spend a whole column on what exactly defines a “craft” beer, since some of the big boy breweries now offer their mass produced and marketed versions.  Anyway, some of those are good and a good companion to that kind of food (I would prefer a Stout, since I'm not really a "hop head").  It goes without saying that anything with a fruit (blueberry, grapefruit, or the sissy Blue Moon) mentioned on the label doesn’t count.   And, being a wine guy, there would be a few wines that are appropriate perhaps, something with a lot of body, high alcohol content, and preferably Red.   Like maybe an Old Vines Zin, a monster Cab,  some Rhones might work..

Our menu kind of broke some of my rules, but generally fit.  The crock pots contain Ro-Tel/Velveeta dip, and ‘Lil smokies, followed by MFO's (soon to be famous) Chili and garlic bread...

As to the game itself, it turned out to be a historical contest.  I know many people who threw in the towel at the end of the third quarter, figuring the outcome was not in doubt.   Although I didn’t have much rooting interest either way, I do feel kind of sorry for the Atlanta bunch, that is going to hurt for a while.  As a quick aside, I listened a bit to “Mike and Mike” this morning, and they had a debate going as to whether one/a team would rather be in the game and lose that way (historical comeback), or just not be there at all.  Golic said that he would give his whole career just to be in a Super Bowl regardless of the outcome..

Jessie (no james)

Had a couple of quick reports of lunches at Jessie’s Kitchen,

one of the “new” eateries in Leonardtown in the renovated Winegardner used car facility - along with the BBQ place.  

 somehow, I think the juxtaposition of "Urban" and "Bar-B-Que" is kind of an oxymoron

Anyway, MFO met a friend at Jessie’s the other day for lunch and thought it was quite acceptable.  She had a wrap, and was pleased.   I was out in Leonardtown earlier today and so took a swing by the place and ducked in a moment to see if I could get a carry out menu. Didn’t presume to take the trusty ELPH inside, but it looked kind of casual with a community type table down the center and some booths (?) along each wall..  According to MFO, they do come and take your order.

They are on Facebook if you want to take a look, they term themselves as  “Asian Fusion”, an (IMHO) an all too overused designation.  There are a few terms on the menu that might have you reaching for your cell phone unless you’re a big Asian food buff

Bulgogi?  Korean grilled marinated beef;  Gyoza?  Japanese pan fried dumplings; Shiumai? Cantonese dumplings with varied fillings; so kind of a tour of the pacific rim…  By the way, those definitions are kind of classic, so really don’t know how Jessie handles them..  and a couple of surprises… under soup (upper right):  TO FU; under Sandwiches: Cuban Reuben:  (direct quote:) Sauerkraut &? Swiss Cheese with A Russian Dressing  Not sure what would come on the plate…Ham?  Pork? Pickles? Mustard?

Anyway, at one time I thought this was a regional chain, but now I’m not so sure.

Public Announcement:  Direct attack on the Feeder!!!

As alert (and even not so alert) readers know, my closing tag line for years has been an admonishment to wear something commensurate with the food you’re about to take, especially the evening meal, shortened to an acronym.

Well there is a local theater company putting on a performance of a play called (Gasp!)

These signs are all over the county, in direct opposition to the Feeder’s crusade.  Just planting the wrong seed in the minds of the locals,  sigh.   So, I will attempt to right this abhorrent collection of words to be a more civilized

In actuality, DDFD is a “two-act play by French playwright Marc Camoletti, , who wrote the farce Boeing-Boeing” – another parallel with the feeder.  After a six year run in Europe, it opened on Broadway in 2012, and now is opening in Southern Maryland, in Port Tobacco..  If you go, you just might see the Feeder outside in white robes with one of those “The End is Near!” type signs and on it will of course be