Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Just Right and Really right!

Hello again, been a bit since I bothered you, but enough “this and that’s” and a “new” venue recently fell into my hands, so maybe a Memorial Day would be a good time to resurface..

I have known about this place for years, but somehow never visited.   I have a friend who is in a musical group that plays there a lot, but have never gone to hear him/them.   To protect his identity, I’ll call him “Opus” who has good taste in music, food, friends, and aircraft.  Anyway, I somehow never got myself down to hear him.   But, a longtime Volunteer at the Historical Society was going to celebrate his 70th birthday, and it was held at
editor's note: this name offers many opportunities for being cute:  "for cryering out load";  "the blog is cryering" and so on, but i'll play it straight today

Down in Compton or in the local vernacular “Cawp-ten” We have passed it many times on our way down to St. Francis Xavier for functions, lectures, and so on.

Anyway, with the motivation of the social gathering, MFO and I ventured down, and what I found was another candidate for the “Just Right” list which is near and dear to the Feeder’s heart. (check their "timely" sitehere where you can see the band schedule for 2014, but it is a good inventory of things you will find there) As usual, when I mention a place I get intrigued by the history of the place, but I don’t have much info (yet) but heard it was a grocery store for many years.  Fortunately I have a friend who is an accomplished archivist and I may turn her loose, although feel free to send me any memories.  In fact the person who’s birthday we were going to celebrate runs a Facebook page “you know you’re from St. Mary’s County if…..” which contains many pictures of the rich history of our Mother County!! Check that out if you’re interested..

I think maybe the only caveat for the “just right” criteria, might be the longevity of the current incarnation of Cryers, but most criteria boxes have certainly been checked.
Ball Field associated with the place?

Keno/”gambling” in some form available?

Local memorabilia posted?

Southern Maryland’s favorite beverages available?
Check Check
(although I saw more evidence of the former rather than the latter)
Check - although maybe points off because
not in a 10 oz. container!

Darts, shuffle “something”?
With a special honor of a “local”. 
An outdoor facility?

Oh, and of course there are nice views on the way there through rural SMC

The ONLY thing I didn’t explore (or see evidence of) was food.  Perhaps others have more info on that.. may have to assemble the “just right” judging team to pursue that…that of course would be key to entry on the main list

Anyway (again) it was truly a “cheers” atmosphere, where everybody knew your name.  You might want to check it out..  Good Southern Maryland Culture.

Speaking of Southern Maryland Culture..
As most people are (or should be aware) of the burgeoning “buy local” mentality.   MFO and I paid a visit to one of the weekend “farmer’s Market” in the old BAE(Lowe’s) parking lot.  The “main” market is down by Hermanville Road, and very many of the local farmers have places there, but the other one is closer to us, and easy for me to navigate around, being in a paved parking lot.

We arrived to see lines already forming. 

The reason??
They're IN!!!!

We waited patiently (chatting with people in line), and eventually got 3 pints for gifts and for eating.  A lot of people emote about the taste of “Fresh foods” and I think strawberries are a perfect example.  Look at those beautiful berries

Small, sweet, and no “white stuff” you get with supermarket varieties.   Lovely

And it being early spring, there are (duhh) spring type vegetables displayed

One has to marvel at the wonderful colors and shapes of natures's plants

And not only was there “truck farm” produce, but even mushrooms that a guy grew in his basement

Local meats were also available from “battle creek beef, inc.”

And good old Blue Wind Gourmet brought their food truck (a whole other genre)

This little enclave of local farmers (and locals) is replicated more and more throughout the country now, like the one we visited in Cape Girardeau with FOJTY a few years ago.   If you get the chance, patronize them, it’s good for the community and oh, so good for the (eyes and the) body!  The real stuff!

And I supposed even though the stuff is from “down on the farm” you should honor it by being
DFD, appropriately of course..
DMJ as well

And a bit of avian lagniappe

Dum de Dum, i'm just an adolescent Red Tailed Hawk, sitting on the feeder's fence enjoying the view

Hey!  who the heck do you think you are?

after the Mocker made a few futile passes attempting to convince Henry to move along, apparently a truce was struck

Okay, you can sit here, but I don't see you!! Good thing I've had my lunch!  By the way, how's the wife and kids (and where's the nest??)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Of this and That, longer than i originally thought

Just kind of a short (I hope) “this and that” compendium of things worth mentioning, but maybe not dwell upon (hopefully). No particular order

While the metal has been made into pieces to adorn humans

It is now showing up on menus and culinary items (as we have seen)

With apologies to the dear lady who supplied a sample for me to play with

 My question has to be “Why Gold”?  I suppose it has a wow factor, but why “guild the lily” (ha ha) of a perfectly good dish (in this case pancakes)?  I played a little with the sheet and it sticks to anything, blows away easily, so I have nothing but respect for the chef trying to make it behave.   And the question might be: “Is it okay to eat the stuff”?  the short answer is “yes” because: “Gold is considered "biologically inert," meaning it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed”;  hmm without getting too graphic, if it passes without being absorbed….think briefly about the end result…. Nuff said.   Anyway, I might try to use it and see what happens!

Got a little more gouge on the history of the CD Café.  Apparently the original “Deb” (the “D”) and her original colleague “Chris” (the “C”) had a disagreement which led to splitting up, with Deb keeping the restaurant.  She may have sold it again recently.

A reader responded about “The Slice” in Leonardtown (old “Kevin’s” space) and allowed it was good, but that person likes “The Brick (nee: Brick Wood Fired Bistro)” in Price Frederick I think in the old “Jericho’s” space which, as I recall, burned.  You can peruse the menu here.  They also list local sourcing of their ingredients.

Among the lot of food magazines I get is “Cook’s Country” kind of a spin-off from Cook’s Illustrated, now part of the “America’s Test Kitchen” empire, which MAYBE had Chris Kimball involved originally, but he has since moved on to become president and founder of “Milk Street”, which has more of an international bent.    Anyway, back to Cooks Country.  It has some interesting recipes, equipment reviews, “how to’s” and so forth.  It also, like other publications of its ilk, always has a section of reader submitted questions.  There’s a doozy in the latest issue which should go to the Smithsonian archive of idiocy.  The person submitting it might have a hard time boiling water… (how do I..)  I will include the complete quote from “New York” for your edification (and hopefully not education!)

Recipes often call for slicing beef against the grain, but I don’t understand what this means or how to do it. Can you clarify?”  Okay, N.Y. immediately sell all your pots and cooking equipment, and find a different hobby, cooking is not for you.  The editors do not dismiss the query, but spend a couple of columns explaining fibers, etc., (including a photo of some eye of the round thing, clearly showing “grain”.) and helpful explanations like: “If you think of the fibers as a handful of dry spaghetti, you want to cut the bundle of spaghetti into shorter sections”

Hooey Department

Well, I will be the first to admit I am a fan of Robert Parker and his “Wine Advocate”, which originally had what I found to be valuable and reliable reviews of wines.  Of course there grew to be many “imitators” like Wine Spectator who, while it does contain some interesting articles, never met a wine they didn’t like, seldom rating anything below 90 points. 

Anyway the Wine Advocate has expanded over the years, spending more time reviewing international wines, and Parker has hired several “experts” who specialize in various wine regions (Italy – Monica Larner; Bordeaux, Sonoma County Bordeaux Varieties and Napa Valley by Lisa Perotti-Brown) and so on.  Well now that they can spend more time on narrower topics they seem to have taken the art of “Wine Speak” to new levels.   A quick and tiny sampling:

2018 Ausone (Lisa Perrotti): Deep purple-black in color, it is an impenetrable wall to begin, unrelenting without persistent coaxing, at last uncoiling to offer glimpses of preserved plums, blueberry coulis, molten licorice, and underbrush with emerging scents of lavender iron ore, crushed stones,  (mick???) charcoal and Indian spices plus a waft of red roses.

2018 Cheval Blanc (and le Petit Cheval)… “comes strutting out of the glass with …. Candied violets, star anise, …. Kirsh and unsmoked cigars”

2005 Joy! (Iron Horse vineyards, Sonoma; Erin Brooks)  It has a bright, saline-accented nose with mineral aromas of crushed stone and shell, lemon pith, acacia blossoms, and Golden Delicious apples. Not Macintosh, mind you, Golden Delicious!

I could go on forever (as did they!).   Give me a break!! Do they just make this crap up?  Is there a wheel in their office they spin for phrases?   Geez, it’s GRAPE JUICE!!  Some hints as to tannins, fruity or no, ready to drink or cellar, stuff like that is helpful to some degree, but “unsmoked cigars”..   C’mon, man!!

Okay enough for today

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Gimme a "C"; Gimme a "D"! Kind of....

Been a while since I’ve had a chance to “review” a place.   Last Sunday night we joined some friends for dinner at CD Café on the Solomons.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, especially for “dinner” so felt it kind of qualified for fresh look.   As an aside, they serve until after Nine on Sunday’s which is kind of unique (and convenient).  Plus, nowadays I have to try to find places without steps, not humungous thresholds, etc.  So we decided that CD fulfilled those filters and although they still don’t take reservations, which I would prefer, I’ve come to understand why that’s a reasonable policy for a limited table restaurant. 

CD has had a presence on the Solomons for almost ever, and originally had some affiliation with the “old” Dry Dock.  There have been quite a few changes over the years, but they have maintained a reputation for excellent food, and I honestly don’t know if one of the originals, “Deb” (I think the “D” in the name) is still involved other than to have her name on a menu item (“Deb’s Personal Choice” chicken dish which has been a fixture forever).

Their website proclaims they are: “the Best Restaurant in Southern Maryland”; which to be fair may have resulted from one of those hokey “reader polls”.  They also say they have “Southern Maryland’s Most Creative Cuisine”.  Which I also understand being on their site, but I would say while they are certainly in the top tier, I would disagree with both statements.

The menu is wide ranging with seven categories (Apps, soups, salads, etc.) and with “add ons and Sides” it affords a bewildering 53 options, and then there are daily “specials” on top of that.  If you can’t find something you might enjoy it’s your fault.  On to our experience…

First here’s a short quiz for you (and I realize there are varying opinions); which of the following statements would you like to hear from the server when very first approaching your table?
       1.     Hi, welcome to (CD) Café
       2.     I’m (so and so) and I’ll be taking care of you tonight
       3.     Can I get you something to drink?
       4.     Would you like to hear tonight’s specials?
       5.     Here are tonight’s specials (proceeding to recite                     them without waiting)
       6.     Would you like a minute to get settled?

Probably coming as no surprise to anyone, the Feeder would very much like 3, maybe coupled with number 1.  Last night we got number 5.  After diverting to number 3, the process went smoothly (although the wine list was removed after the ladies ordered wine for cocktails) and “up” here is like Cow and Fish, a stemless, but tapered glass, but I must admit we were not badgered to order food.

As far as food went, I settled on the Steak au Poivre (no added salt please – which I’m not sure made it to the kitchen); both ladies had the Pad Thai (with pork tenderloin) and the other dish was the Honey Glazed Salmon.  With about the right timing, my steak showed up.

So of course I did

The menu description of the dish is:

steak au poivre
$27 • 8oz tenderloin • mushrooms • garlic • shallot • peppercorn brandy sauce • vegetable medley • garlic mashed potatoes

And indeed, all those ingredients are present.  In my opinion, the presentation verges on everything being “glopped” together, resulting in a not very pleasing dish. Doesn’t make a very good picture.  Everything tasted okay, you just had to kind of fish around to get one of the items, which came with bits of the others.  The cut of beef was confusing; it was more a “hunk” than the standard filet cut (hockey puck – GO BLUES!).  Everyone else enjoyed their selections with Mr. Salmon referring to another menu item labeled “Healthy Salmon” wondering if his was by inference: “Un-Healthy”.

Service remained attentive, but not intrusive.

All in all a pleasant experience with nicely prepared food, and I would certainly return to explore other (no added salt, please) options..

Next: in the wings:
“waiter, there’s gold in my pancakes”; an exploration into using Gold in culinary applications such as:

Thanks to a good friend, I am Mis en Place with the special metal

And one of the two favorite Wednesday’s of the year!
The Spring Dining Guide to explore!

Meanwhile, continue to
And destroy all Mason Jars