Wednesday, May 23, 2018

KKK and the bubbles...

No, not THAT KKK! 
With a little bit of poetic license, this triple K is Kevin’s Korner Kafe (he doesn’t use the middle K for some reason, how he passes up the alliteration is beyond me!).  Most folks know by now that Kevin moved his shop from a back street up in Leonardtown to the one time Willows down the hill by the intersection of St. Andrew’s Church Road and Point Lookout Road.  Won’t use official route numbers, more quaint to use the county name.  In looking back, I see I had a look at them a couple of years ago, as a candidate for a “just right” award.  Here’s what I concluded then on the 21st of November, 2016:

“I am in kind of a quandary as to whether or not to add them to a “just right” list.   Certainly the building qualifies, largely unchanged for decades, but I’m not yet sure how the seafood component fits.  Let’s wait a while before deciding.   Somehow, the whole space made me uneasy.   Just not comfy or welcoming.  Maybe the ghost of John Nucci”

So with another couple of years under our collective belts, what about now?  At the risk of inserting a spoiler, I would have to say that they are closer, but maybe not quite there yet.  Most of the elements are present: the building, the trifold plastic laminated menu with the hidden list of specials, all the “just right” menu choices (crab dip and balls, stuffed shrimp, fisherman’s and Captain’s platters, steamed this or that, burgers and subs, fried chicken and nuggets for “The Minnows”, hard and soft crabs in season, etc.), Bud and Bud Light and both Coor’s available, and so forth.   Servers who call you “honey” or “dear”.  Nautical and cute stuff on the wall. So all that qualifies.  Plus, they DON’T make you drink water from a Mason Jar!  However, I still have a bit of trouble with a seafood centric menu with no water in sight, although Breton Bay is very close by.  I don’t know, maybe that’s unfair, but just strikes me as incongruous to have a classic waterfront menu on Route 5.  So that for me is a negative, plus they haven’t been there very long (even though the building has).

So anyway, the “Just Right” committee convened there a week or so ago, during the multi day monsoon.  The entrance gets you in the nautical mood with a self proclaimed statement about soft shells 

And on top of their sandwich,  it’s good to know they serve their large crab legs cooked!

Once inside you could be in a time warp back to the old willows, pretty much same floor plan with bar in the middle

And clever signs all over the place (also leaving no doubt as to your table number!), and some more up to date clever trappings on the wall

Tables are set with cutesy nautical themed tablecloths

To hold your beverages: that’s Chardonnay in the glass! A nice pour, with our hard cider devotee’s choice in the background.

The condiment caddy passes muster for the right stuff (vinegar, old bay in a shaker, hot sauce, French’s classic yellow mustard and Heinz ketchup (or catsup).

These days my menu choices are more driven by trying to figure out the lower sodium dishes, which is tough in a place that has most everything fried.  So while one of the team had a crab ball basket (of just right red plastic)

Another had a pulled pork sandwich

Besides the menu offerings there was quite a few specials one of which was a grilled salmon ($15.95), so I chose that with my new mantra in ordering: “with no added salt please”. Was a bit apprehensive, but was very pleasantly surprised with the result

Fish was cooked very well, firm, opaque, and not “flaky”, with a nice char and some herbs that I hoped were not laden with salt.  It really was tasty and I ate it all!  Notice all the other “sides” served with all the main dishes are in containers, oh well.  The slaw was also quite nice.

So, I think in the intervening two years, things have improved. So maybe in the next couple of years, if nothing drastically changes, they might earn the coveted “Just Right” designation.

Other side dishes:
Ruby Tuesday in First Colony appears to have gone dark.   Passing by nearly every day, I’ve noticed that they are indeed “dark” most of the time.  There are the dreaded 8½ x 11 white sheets of paper in the front doors.  And if you Google RT/Locations the “nearest to me” is in Prince Frederick.

PM update:  swung (swang?) by Ruby’s on way home from therapy to check the handbill on the door.  (shaky hand held images).  Seems to seal their fate.  Was this the first chain to close in the area?
Here’s the sign if you can read it (containing the words "permanently closed".

And thought it was nice placement above the permanent “Now Hiring” thing in the window.  Doubt it.

DOS Amigos in Leonardtown is still not open.  Place is cursed!

Another Tex Mex place near Callaway by the Wise food market has recently(?) opened.  Just what the area needs!

Steak in a Sack in Charlotte Hall has apparently shuttered.

Bay Dawgz in San Souci which has been vacant for quite a while now is now home to a Korean Barbeque place.

And, a nice way to end (the bubbles part)
MFO has a real love for Champagne.  Not Friexenet, not “Sparkling” wine, not the Charmat process (“tank method”):

The Tank Method is a much less expensive and less time-consuming method of sparkling wine production”.

but the honest to God traditional method used in the Champagne district in France with a second fermentation in the bottle not in a tank, producing the only wine in the world that can be called Champagne which by “law” must be made with only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, although other varietals (pinot blancpinot grisarbane, and petit meslier) sneak in there.   I am digressing far beyond what I started out to do, but one of our favorite memories of one of our trips to France was a tour of the cellars followed by a wonderful lunch at Moët and Chandon

Anyway, we found a very tasty bottle from Aubrey

Which was a Terry Theise selection.  He goes about making selections of little known grower wines and the Aubrey was one of his finds. He is VERY highly regarded in the world of champagne. 

So anyway, we opened the bottle in honor of a visit of some friends who were on an odyssey.  It was gorgeous.   Robert Parker gives it a 92 point rating.  HOWEVER, his(?) description of the wine is classic “wine speak” it reads:

It was a lovely glass, but try as we might, we just never could get the “bittersweet perfume suggestive of gentian and Iris with intimations of fresh lime and sea breezes". 

Anyway, I ramble too much!  A final reminder to

And NMMJ (interesting juxtaposition with visions of champagne flutes)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A little of everything

Boy, it’s almost a week since we’ve crossed paths, and in reality, I probably don’t have much to say.  A few this and that’s, and a little cooking update at the end..(sorry, this got a little long, maybe best served in two courses)

So we begin with the 

This and That section

Amazon! (who, by the way are raising their “prime” rates)
As alert readers will remember my kind of favorite snack is Jelly Beans and peanuts.  I ate my way through the bag a friend gave to me, but wasn’t satisfied, so looked to find some more.  No joy in stores, too late.  So, on a whim I consulted Amazon.  Well, they got about a dozen choices of size, type (amounts, classic, spiced, etc.), so, click, click, and within a couple of days on your porch:

Still amazes me how they do that… Jelly Bird Eggs!  Who would have thought!

Oh, Beans..
When our friends arrived from San Diego, they brought a house gift especially for the feeder.  Apparently I missed an article in the New Yorker (one of the publications MFO gets) about some beans (go figure) that have turned into a cult following of Beans from Rancho Gordo. As you can see the story leads off with “the best meal of my life, or at least the most memorable, came from a can”.  And goes on to related how Steve Sando’s passion for beans turned them into a much sought after gourmet commodity.  Anyway, I am now proud owner of

We have yet to use them.  According to them, this variety is particularly enjoyable in Senate Bean Soup.

Magazines Redux…

About a month ago, I lamented the demise of some of my cherished food magazines..  I found the following Sherman’s Lagoon piece in the comics recently that kind of speaks to that issue.

Felt familiar..

As kind of a corollary to that, I was pleased that few loyal readers related similar feelings about “letting go”.  MFO and I attended the annual dinner of the local Historical Society at the Olde Breton Inn a bit ago, and a good friend and follower specifically came up to me and told me that she went through a similar recent “de-acquisition” process, and found herself standing over the recycle bin, with a stack of magazines in her hand, and it took all the fortitude she could muster (with somewhat dewy eyes) to let go…we are not alone!  (more on the Old Breton Inn dinner in the food section)

Comings and ….. comings
You know, I try to keep up with stuff going on, but often the Feeder is the last to know.  A copy of the “Leonardtown Beacon” fell into my hands, and lo and behold the headline was “Coming Soon (my favorite phrase) to Leonardtown” with a story of a huge “market” moving into the old Leonardtown Building Supply building on Longmore street.  According to the story, many vendors have already signed up (usually these stories are published when things are well enough along to not fail).  It will be called “Shepherds Old Field Market” and as I understood it contain crafter booths, home decorator shops, yoga spaces, etc., and on special days the overworked “Farm to Table” produce and even meats!

Have heard stories that a Red Lobster might appear in the area…why eat local seafood when you can order stuff made in a corporate kitchen and maybe finished on site.  But, of course the place will be packed.  Sigh…

And wait for it… Dos Amigos is still “Coming Soon”.  More building issues I think.  Makes you appreciate Loic all the more!

Food Section

First, to close the loop on the Historical Society dinner at Olde Breton Inn.  Before the dinner, somebody asked me if I knew the menu.  Of course.  They’ve been putting out essentially the same buffet for years.  At one end there will be a steam table of some veggies, then some potato dish (mashed or maybe scalloped) a green salad, chicken breasts in some guise (cordon bleu, Chesapeake) fried oysters, a tub of gravy, and then the haunch of carved beef.   Bingo!  Person came back and said I nailed it.  MFO was kind enough to bring me a plate, and the piece of that beef was so tough I couldn’t chew it, and it was on the rare side.  Plus somehow invariably they always.manage slice it with the grain.

With my new regimen of limited sodium, we are tending to eat more fish (with apologies to Chick Fil-a).   I am souring on Blue Apron and have found “Sea to Table” a good source of just fish, not a complete meal that requires prep work. We tried a new selection “Spiny Dogfish” which is out of the Shark family, and goes by many names, such as: blue dog, common spinyfish, darwen salmon, dogfish, grayfish, Pacific dogfish, piked dogfish, rock salmon, spiky dog, spotted spiny dogfish, spring dogfish, spur dogfish, spur dog, victorian spotted dogfish, white-spotted dogfish, and white-spotted spurdog!  Wowser! More names than a witness protection program.  Although one of the monikers is “Pacific” dogfish, ours came from the other ocean

And they were nice enough:

I honestly don’t remember what we did with it (which may be telling), most of the “suggested” recipes were for fried, and a good substitute for Fish and Chips.
A friend told me of another source of fish, called “ocean in a box”, which I have yet to investigate.  I did see a little review of the various fish by mail services, and Sea to Table was tops for those interested in promoting sustainable sources..

MFO got some trout filets from the local fish monger known as “Giant” which we have found to be not bad.  I found a recipe for “Trout with Garlic Lemon Butter Herb Sauce” which sounded interesting so set out to try that.   Did all my mis en place, and set out all the necessary ingredients for the dish:

1.5 pounds trout or salmon, or arctic char - 2 large fish fillets with skin on the bottom
2 tablespoons olive oil more, if needed
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning dried thyme, oregano, parsley, combined
1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
4 garlic cloves diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons butter softened
2 tablespoons parsley chopped

Followed directions to season the flesh side with the Italian herb stuff, heated the oil in the pan and added the fishies.

as well as my new “fish weights”

And cooked until lightly browned

Removed the fish after separating the flesh from the skin making sure to leave all the cooking oils in the pan”,
Add diced garlic, lemon juice, and white wine to the same pan with oil. Cook on medium-low heat for about 1 minute, until garlic softens a bit. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, and 2 tablespoons of butter, off heat, to the sauce, stirring, until the butter melts and forms a creamy mixture”.

One of these days, I’ll get that “creamy mixture” part right.  Nuff said for now.  Turned out pretty good, but a creamy mixture would have helped


That's long enough for today. 
And I’m seriously considering taking up another cause as well:
NMMJ (No More Mason Jars)
What do you think?

Still however, you must

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

California Dreamin'

I was a busy week last week here in Lake Desperanza Farms..  started off with another visit “up the road” to Johns Hopkins.  Was a follow up, but Doc wanted to do update a couple of tests.  The famous “Six Minute walk” test and another echo cardiogram.  Early reports are that nothing is (more) amiss, so we won’t spend any more time on it. 

That same day, our dear friends from San Diego arrived for a visit.  Been a couple of years since we’ve seen them so it was good to get together again.  We still confer fairly often, but it is so nice to be face to face.  You can’t hug a smart phone!

He is an avid birder and quite an accomplished photographer. I was of course not able to go, but through my contacts with the local Audubon Society we found a “guide” who took him on a morning trek (the next morning starting at 7am our time) through Calvert Cliffs State Park.  She is one of those people who can bird by ear, identifying species just by their voice.  Quite a talent.  Oh, before he left I hefted his camera with a lens (roughly) the size of a megaphone, whicih was attached to a rather large camera.   Wow.  I admire him lugging that around the bush!  But he gets some great shots.  He has a website and if you're interested PM me on Facebook. 

He and I first met at Michigan State University (long before their recent troubles).   It was in the midst of the “Hippie/Folk Music” days of the 60’s, and at that time I played the banjo and he was a guitarist, so we taught each other to play the other's instrument, and have remained close friends ever since, despite the miles involved.  After undergraduate studies he pursued advanced degrees in Ethnomusicology while I went into the exciting world of engineering.  Before retirement, he was a professor at San Diego State.

So anyway, if birding was out, what’s something we can all enjoy?  EATING OUT!  We had two meals, one at Cow & Fish, and the other at the old standby Dry Dock.  C&F continues to fascinate me for some reason.  After our last meal there, I sent the owner an email complaining about the runner not knowing who had what, even at a two top, and my new cause: “No Mason Jars ON the Table”. On this visit neither had been addressed so we had the Mason Jars for water and the “Who had the?” for food.   We did however have a choice table, and the food was very good.  I had a lamb shank, which was a special on the board posted as: “Lamb Shank Leg” with a reduction of some kind.  Ever conscious of sodium intake, I asked for the sauce on the side.  Although it had good flavor it did tend to be a bit dry.  Scallops at the table were good, and the owner stopped by and chatted with no mention of my lucid observations.  They do, however, have some new tables that are quite nice.  

I did have a note the other day from a stringer, who was among a party of ten at the place, and didn’t have a good experience.  The whole front of the house operation remains spotty I think, but things are moving in the right direction.   The next night at the dry dock was a typical dry dock experience.  Such a lovely place.

So our last view of our friends was as they headed for BWI the next day

Sad to see them go.  Hope we can meet again.

Somewhat related, during the time when we were musically involved during our student days at MSU, I splurged on a Martin D28 guitar.  I have fallen out of practice for a large number of years (I believe the phrase is “lost my chops”) and had kind of a long term lease arrangement with another friend who has his chops, but has recently acquired another guitar, so decided to return mine.  It still is a beautiful instrument. 

MFO has been thinking about “de-aquisitioning” our stuff and so with the help of more musically alert friends we tried to establish its worth.  We did have the serial number which placed it in the late 60’s, and more research determined it had a two-piece Brazilian Rosewood back.

Several sources have placed an (eye opening) figure on it..I may have to start learning all over again.  It sounds beautiful.  Upon its return another friend who plays virtually every instrument with strings and some with human wind power joined us and I enjoyed listening to them all play.   Oh, the guitar that "displaced" mine is made entirely of carbon fiber, all in one piece and a gorgeous blue.  An amazing instrument both visually and acoustically.   The times they are a changin’

Well, I still have a rather long list of this’s and that’s to pass on, but think I’ll end here, because I don’t want to sully the visit experience with more banal stuff.  So I will close with an image they sent us when back in SOCAL.  To me, it somehow characterizes the experience perfectly.   Anybody know the fast food/(quick service/fast casual) place?  A California icon…

 A whole different look for