Thursday, June 28, 2018

Just Stuff (with no pictures!)

Well, to paraphrase Thumper, “if you don’t have something to write about, don’t write nuthin’ at all”.   Kind of adopted that philosophy lately as my time has been taken up with a couple of events and my Rotary Club.  Being the club's secretary, I have lots of mundane “duties” to take care of, like beating dues out of the membership, collecting funds for our Charter Night (Installation of a new BOD) dinner, and so forth.

The other project we recently took on is actually related to food (or lack thereof).  There are a lot of people in St. Mary’s county that have to deal with “food insecurity”, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  They depend on agencies like the “Soup Kitchen” to provide for them.  There also are a whole lot of “food pantries” around that give out food to those in need.  Most are in the faith based community and are run out of various churches.  The pantries have to get their food from local grocers, donations, etc.  The other source of food is from two “food banks”, the Maryland Food Bank, and the Southern Maryland Food Bank.  The former is located in Baltimore, and the latter in Waldorf.  Neither “delivers”, forcing the non-profits to drive to get food, requiring trucks, volunteers, refrigeration, etc.  They get what they get, never sure of what is available.  Without going into more depth, the whole situation is a mess (which nonetheless meet a lot of needs and aid to those who need help).  Different open hours, days, etc.

So our club is setting out to open a local Food Bank here in Lexington Park, where the pantries can come and get food to distribute without driving all over.  The Maryland Food Bank has agreed to deliver food to us for two years at which point it would be hopefully self-sustainable.  We hope to engage the local pantries and churches.  Right now they all do their own thing and forming a “coalition” could help alleviate some of the hunger in the county.  Of course there are many obstacles to address and overcome, but it seems like a very worthwhile goal.

Speaking of goals
Or should I say goooooooooooooooaalllllllllll! I hope you have been able to see some of the World Cup soccer (futbol) matches.  Much drama, such as defending Champion Germany not making it out of the group stage.  Messi (soccer’s LeBron) not having a very good tournament, but just enough to scrape Argentina out of the group play and into the “Round of 16”, the surprising emergence of Croatia, the brilliant play of Rinaldo (for Portugal) is just great.  And the fans are amazing, often in costume, always singing, dancing, and having a wonderful time.  Quite refreshing..

Here we go again
Well, it seems like there is no end of people wanting to open restaurants.  You know the little place “up the road (235)” in Laurel Grove, which has been alternatively dark and open under several guises, the latest being “Zee Best Café  A stringer report gives me the info that it will now become “Granny’s Country Kitchen”.  Will provide updates as able.

Red Hen
I can’t help but comment on the recent events at The Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.  It has been open a few years, and as I recall, by a pretty well respected chef.   Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the reports of the Presidential Press Secretary being asked/directed to leave during their dinner.  As a foodie/ restaurant person, you just can’t do that!  If you open a place to the public you can’t pick and choose your customers.  You may not agree with their politics or personality, but they deserve the opportunity to enjoy a meal without being interfered with by management and asked to leave.  Very Bad. 

A sad note
Sometime within the past couple of years, I struck up a e-friendship with another Food Blogger who wrote a little newsletter called Southern Maryland Food and Drink.  It was always informative, gave objective reviews, usually in more depth than this office.  We had arranged several times to meet for lunch or wine tastings, and somehow never did.  Well, we’ll now have to meet in the big restaurant in the sky.   Don H. was diagnosed with a vigorous form of cancer maybe two months ago, and passed away just recently.  He will live on in my toasts now. 

So that’s it for now, do not forget to

And oh yeah, carry the flag for

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Mexican and Hiding Awa!

I am a bit out of my regular rhythm on these, but thought I should at least update my “Mexican” restaurant rundown to include another positive review of a new candidate . And I even am positive for once, which some readers will appreciate. And, well, I may add a little rant at the end, to keep my record clean.

South of the Border, North of Great Mills
While I sort of concentrated on the big boys in town, (and yes, I missed Salsa’s in Leonardtown for no reason other than unfamiliarity).   An alert reader notified me of another restaurant here in the midst of Lexington Park.  You know that little enclave in the little square next to the Lexington Park Cleaners which has been there forever?  There were several historical occupants of the cluster of shops, including a little “mercadito”, and once the home of “Bambino’s”, Charlie’s Deli, and others.  The place is on the corner, pretty much across from the cleaners in the corner of the buildings.  The name of the place is “El Rinconcito” which is not surprisingly translated as “little corner”.  While I have no firsthand knowledge, same alert reader has been there several times, and has enjoyed fresh ingredients, nicely presented.  While they don’t have a website their Facebook page affords a peek into their menu. It is gratifying to see there are NO enchiladas on the menu, but does contain many “traditional” dishes.  They serve breakfast through dinner and you can find such items as: Huevos Rancheros; Arroz con Pollo; Chimichangas, Taquitos; Tortas and Sopas; as well as many Quesadillas and Burritos.  Might be worth a try and a respite from dishes from the Cocina in the Sky transporting dishes to the larger guys. 

Over the river (bridge) and through the woods (houses)

to the Solomons.  Have been hearing good reports about the current occupant of the original Giovanni’s sort of off the main drag on the island, behind Carmen’s gallery.  There have been a couple of less successful attempts, but the Island Hideaway seem to have a rising following.  I wouldn’t say it is hidden away, but it is on the water of back creek.  We finally arranged to corral most of a little group that tries to convene when all the far flung members are in town.  So on father’s day, we had an 11:00 reservations at

AResized Island Hideaway 17 June 2018 wcm EL 180617 – 7471

It is freshly (?) painted and nicely kept up.  It affords a nice view of the harbor

and does offer al fresco seating as well as interior seating.  (hint: they open at 11:00 sharp and DON’T you presume to arrive before that expecting to enter).  Anyway at the stroke of the hour we were called from the patio (which was very pleasant Sunday) and shown to the table set for five.

A highlight of the whole experience was the server for our table, whose name on the check was “Charlie”.  He did an unusually good job with the table, showing up when needed, but not incessant “how is everything” intrusions. He ran down the daily specials

And took drink orders which included Bloody Mary’s, a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (their menu omits the second “l” which the Feeder pointed out) and the Rosemary Grapefruit Crush (as an experiment – we all sampled and thought it was a bit sweet for our palate.)

The menu (which you probably can't read) offered lots of choices still kind of with an Italian bent,

but also a couple of intriguing dishes reflecting different cuisines (Adobo Pork Chop, and Shrimp and Grits).
We ordered a couple of Shrimp and Grits, Fish of the day (mahi mahi or grouper), and a Fettuccini with Chicken.
The side salads (Caesar) salad were fresh and crunchy, and entrees were nicely presented

blackened Mahi with “skatch" Corn
My Sauteed Mahi with wild rice

The Shrimp and Grits

And the chicken topped Fettuccini

 As you can see, all the dishes were appetizing and occasional checks from Charlie to see if anything was needed were few, but appropriate.

Surprisingly, the normal question (okay, a bit trite) of “did you save room for dessert?” were met with affirmative responses (indication maybe a reluctance to leave) and were rewarded with nice Crème Brulee, a “banana cream” cheesecake and a nice Key Lime pie (didn’t inquire if it came from Kim’s)

So all in all, it will find a place on the “return list” despite my initial misgivings.  Another place to give a try, Thumbs UP!

And as we were about to leave the Kalmar Nyckel came into port

I hope you are enjoying the world cup ("soccer") matches. They are fascinating.  If you saw the Portugal/Spain match, you were rewarded with what is being called one of the best matches of the World Cup, not just this one, but ANY world cup.  If seeing Rinaldo’s third goal doesn’t give you chills, I give up.  One of the late night sports talking heads, allowed as how since the USA was not involved, she might not watch.  Terrific.  Blame the poor play of the Americans, not the world cup.  Plus not only Rinaldo, but giants like Messi, Neymar are miraculous.  Would watch them over our Big Ben, and Brady.  Okay, enough of that!

And I WAS going to make a few comments on the US Open tourney and Phil’s unique putting style, but that can wait. Instead I remind you to

DFD and campaign for

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Italians, Mexicans, and Mushrooms(?)

You know, believe it or not, creating these missives is not easy.   As I move around, reading this or that, seeing signs, and so forth, I often think that: “Hey!  This should be in the Feeder!”  Well as age creeps up and memory goes down, I have taken to try to make little notes, on some handy scrap of paper, or a little sticky.  So when it comes time for fingers are put to keyboards, and I draw a blank, I can refer to those notes for content.  Well, most of the time I either cannot find them, or if I do, there is some cryptic note whose meaning has flown out of my brain.   Case in point, today I found a small sticky with one word on it: “lasagna”.   What the heck is that about?  After pondering it for a while and giving up, I went on about my business and suddenly it popped into my brain: Olive Garden!

Those charming folks or “family” have a new promotion called “Create your own Lasagna”, meaning they make a stack of lasagna noodles with some creamy white cheese in between, and you select a sauce (meat sauce, marinara, alfredo) which apparently goes over the pasta stack, and then you can pick your “topping” which is then crowns the mess. I, at least, generally don’t think of “toppings” on Lasagna, it’s a nice dish on its own.  Anyway, your options include Grilled Chicken, Cheese Ravioli (??), Sautéed Shrimp, and I even saw one on TV that offered scallops!  Dear God – no regard for harmony of texture or balance of “lightness” and the presentation is pretty frightening… a great culinary innovation.

And while we’re stuck on “genre”, a comment about “Mexican” food (at least as available locally).  There are/were four (maybe more) main restaurants featuring the cuisine: Plaza Azteca; Plaza Tolteca; Hacienda Los Guayabos; and (finally) recently opened Dos Amigos in Leonardtown.  I kind of exclude Chipotle and the new place near Harris Teeter which I believe are order at the counter and not a sit down place.

I got menus from all those above

 Plaza Azteca has gone “chain” and has over 40 outlets scattered around the Mid – Atlantic (so the only way to see their menu is “on line)”. 

And did some comparisons.  I have often postulated (somewhat tongue in cheek) that there is a Mexican Cocina in the sky, and it magically makes the same dishes appear in the various restaurants.  I sort of centered on Enchiladas as a common denominator, and guess what? Enchiladas: Supreme, Suiza, Banderita, and Rancheras all appear on all the menus (Azteca shown)

All of which include Chicken, Pork, or Shredded beef but basically the same dish.  There are a couple of others like “Poblano” or “Del Norte”.  Not much latitude.

I suppose they are popular, and people are used to them and feel comfortable knowing what they are going to get.
I have had an early stringer report on Dos Amigos, finding the both rooms “packed” on a Monday night (!).  Food was as expected, nothing outstanding, but said he would return.   Only flaw was that several dishes of the four were “not hot”, for which he received an apology from the manager.

Since it is a “new” place, I did a bit of looking at their menu.  Pretty much a formula thing with boxes for categories like Appetizers, Nachos, Salads, Combos, Quesadillas, Fajitas, etc.  While there was not a box for “drinks”, there were several pictures of Margaritas.   I suppose it could have been separate.  Following more and more common practice, there were little icons beside some of the dishes, denoting: “Recommended, New, and Popular” one wonders if things without, say, a “Recommended” star, if they are NOT recommended.   And odd that a place that has been open less than a month has a “new” category.  Maybe refresh there is no markings for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and so on.  Oh, and they indiscriminately interchange “cheese” and “queso”  

Be interesting to see how they go after they get over their birth pains...

I went into one of the non-chain coffee places here, all of which serve pretty good coffee.  I got a “large” whole milk Latte, with two shots of regular and one of decaf.

Took it to my car, put it in the cup holder and off I went.  Just before I got to the digs, I went to have a sip, and “eagle clawed” the cup, and then all hell broke loose.  The cup collapsed, the lid flew off, and I (and the flutter mobile) was bathed in hot, sticky, coffee.

Fortunately, I was able to get to the house and grab a bunch of paper towels and mostly mop up the car and myself.   Always pick up by the bottom, not the top!


Lastly, a memory jogger for me. Through the wonders of the web, I happened to come across a product that brought back such pleasant memories of my youth.

Growing up in Michigan, every spring I was shipped off to Petosky to stay with “Aunt Lee” (of whom I could fill volumes of Feeders) my mother’s sister.  During that time, I quite often spent a couple of days with “the Alfreds” (who lived across the street from us in East Lansing), who operated a small curio shop during the spring and summer between Harbor Springs and Cross Village.  They sold local Native American Crafts, like little Birch Bark canoes, beads, and so forth.  And part of the ritual was centered around food, Morel Mushrooms and Smelt.  

At that time of the year the Smelt would “run” in many of the small streams and creeks. So after dark, you’d put on waders, and find a stream (which was ice cold) wade out with a little net and scoop up the small silvery fish.

But as good as they were, the real Holy Grail was the much revered Morel Mushroom, a local delicacy.  Finding a location where they grew wild (especially around ash trees as I recall) which would be a closely held secret strictly a secret kept within a family, not to be shared with anybody.  So we would tramp out into the wilds to "their" spot to find the emerging legumes, and harvest a few.

So home again, fry the smelt in a little butter, saute the lightly dusted mushrooms, and a feast fit for the kings (or at least me).  The memories of those meals have stayed with me for decades, and maybe contributed to my passion for food.  That’s what it is all about!

Not sure what I’ll do with the dried variety, maybe scallops?  Sure as hell won’t top Lasagana. 

Thanks and
DFD and don’t forget

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Got them low down blues....

Hah!  Not the musical variety but high performance jet aircraft “down low”

This weekend marked the return of the Blue Angel’s participation in the annual Pax Air Expo.  They have not been here for a few years, due to various issues, so it was nice they could return. 

Being fortunate enough to live by the base, we have a back yard seat for viewing.  Can’t see the “little guys” that perform aerobatics mostly over the airfield, but great for seeing sort of “behind the curtain” activities of the Blue Angels. as they regroup, form up, and go in for the show maneuvers.

This kind of spans all four days.   Thursday, the first day of practice, was kind of crummy so I think they stayed low. 

angels over the lighthouse!

Friday, the second practice day was clear skies so they did the high show, much more impressive.

Have (lots) more, but in the interest of your time won’t go on and on

Saturday (yesterday), the first day of the actual show was kind of partly cloudy skies, so I think they did the low show again, but the clouds provided some nice backgrounds for the shots.

Today (Sunday) is well, particularly awful outside the windows of the digs. 

More or less steady winds in the 30’s; and I recorded a gust to 46, with driving rain, so it might be questionable if they are able to go today..

Having lived around fighter jets and flight test and seeing innumerable flights, the skills of these guys are amazing (stating the obvious).   Being around 500 feet at over 400 knots in close formation has to be exhausting.  Then they do those “starburst” maneuvers where they separate into four trajectories, and then to rejoin precisely is impressive.  I’m sure the answer is training, training, training.  Talked to somebody who has a little insight, and said they are in constant voice contact with the leader who calls the cues.  They don’t wear G-suits nor oxygen.  What a life! 

There were as many “Spectators” in the river as for the fireworks, maybe more.

And then when gear down signals the end of the show

All those spectators head out!

Having not seen them for over 6 or 7 years, it was uplifting to see them again

“after all these years
I still feel everything when you are near

Gives you chills or you ain’t alive!!

And besides the fixed wing show, we also had a couple of "movable wing" fly by’s

Earlier in the week we also had a four footed visitor in the back yard..

And before we hang it up, FOJTE had dinner last night in Stone Soup Cottage celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary.   Congrats!  On both the accomplishment and exquisite taste!  (Apples don’t fall far from the tree, maybe)

Okay, carry on while you

And fight for

and still cooking!
pan seared trout, whole wheat pasta, Limas, and something NOT in a mason jar