Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Hawthorne Puppies Enjoy The Pool.

Today was fun-in-the-pool day for Dixie and Giada.
Well, great fun for Dixie.
Giada? Not so much. Here's Dixie in her royal pose. Kinda reminds me of Giada at times.
Youngest Hawthorne is taking the other Giada for a cooling dip. Generally, this dog does not like water. She hates a bath. But, she's not minding this too much. Dixie loves catching the ball and she loves this pool.
And it's even better that she knows all the puppies do NOT like getting wet.
It's her own little sanctum sanctorum.

Mr. Hawthorne And Rosie Enjoy A Musical Interlude.

You probably don't remember our dear friends
the Bloomfields,
Ian and Annette.*
(And that's Ian with a long I - eye-un, not ee-un.)
Ian was the one who introduced us
Plus he brings us fish
when he goes deep sea fishing
and deer meat when he goes deer hunting.
Ian called us Saturday and invited us
to our neighbors, Zach and Nan Wilson*,
down the street,
for a little impromptu musical extravaganza.
That's Zach on the left, Zach's brother in law in the middle,
and Ian-with-a-long-I on the right.
I must say, this is one very talented and entertaining bunch.
You must listen to their inspired lyrics.
Please enjoy their rather eclectic repertoire,
their dulcet, mellifluous tones,
their melodious lyricism.
This group obviously knows how to have fun
and how to release their inner Euterpe
and let her ascend, take wing, and soar.
Such innate abilities.
Such flair.
Such natural endowment.
(And that's a synonym for "talent,"
so don't go elsewhere with it, boys.)
A veritable breeding ground of musicality.
A fertile bed of euphony.
And another little ditty:
Had I but known that mere houses
down the street from me
was this cultural cornucopia of talent and creativity,
I would have gotten myself invited to
their little Algonquin Round Table sooner.
Thanks, Ian*, for inviting us,
and thank you Zach and Nan*
for your gracious hospitality.
*Names changed to protect the guilty.

Mr. Hawthorne And Rosie Go Out To Breakfast.

Saturday morning I took Daughter Hawthorne's car in
for repairs and was told it would be several hours.
So I called Mr. Hawthorne to come pick me up.
By the time he got to the repair shop,
they'd taken in her car and I was told it would
be only 45 minutes.
Mr. Hawthorne was not happy about this turn of events,
since I could have just sat in the repair shop
and waited and he could have just stayed at home,
but I told him I'd buy him breakfast.
Of course he started whining about the tourists,
the crowds, how everybody's going to be out for breakfast,
I decided on a place we'd never been to before,
I thought it would be good
since when driving Daughter Hawthorne to Manteo High School
at 6:30 in the morning for an away game somewhere,
I'd always see lots of cop cars there.
I have found that cop cars at a restaurant are a true indication
of the quality of the eats.
Grits Grill is located in Nags Head
just past the Outer Banks Hospital,
in the Outer Banks Mall shopping area.
We opted to sit at the counter,
so I had a great view of the grill
and got to watch the cooks preparing breakfast.
That is a huge pile of hash browns on the grill.
I had two eggs sunny side up,
bacon, hash browns, and a croissant,
which had spent some time on the grill,
so it was especially flavorful.
Mr. Hawthorne had whole wheat toast,
eggs over easy, and grits and cheese.
I'm used to eating stone-ground grits at home,
so I generally don't order grits out since they don't compare,
but these were quite good.
When the cook handed the grits over to Mr. Hawthorne,
I asked him for some cheese,
since naturally I'd be tasting the grits.
Mr. Hawthorne and I started bickering
about cheese/no cheese
so the cook just handed me my own bowl of grits with cheese.
At no charge.
I loved watching them work.
And I want me one of those T-shirts.
Another good breakfast.
I'm on a roll!
Since this was Saturday,
we had a special treat:
On Saturdays from 9:00 am until 12:00 noon all summer bring the family and come see "Steve Da Dream" he will entertain you no matter your age.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Steve Da Dream was Da Bomb!
Check out the comb action.
Edited to add: Rest in peace, Steve.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rosie Makes A Chicken Wrap For Middle Hawthorne.

Middle Hawthorne came home Friday for lunch and asked if I could make him a chicken wrap like at Mama Kwan's. "How do they make them?" "With chicken and cumin and Jasmine rice and cheese and onions and lettuce and tomato and sour cream."
"Not a problem." From Mama Kwan's menu:

Jerk Chicken Soft Tacos

This was our most popular lunch special over our first 2 years. Jerk Seasoned Chicken Breast, grilled and served with mixed greens, diced tomatoes, Cheddar Cheese, onions, jasmine rice, salsa and sour cream with soft worm flour tortillas.
I opted NOT to go with the soft worm flour tortillas. I also have a problem with the national cuisine of a country described as JERK. I made this meal within 25 minutes. Take that, Rache!
One cup of Jasmine rice and 2 cups of my chicken consomme.
I brought the consomme to a boil and added in some salt, butter, and the rice. Covered and barely simmered for 20 minutes.
1.13 pounds of chicken breast tenders for $1.80.
I cut the chicken breasts into strips and seasoned with freshly ground salt and pepper and cumin and coriander.
Then placed in a hot pan with hot oil and butter.
Saute maybe 4 minutes each side. Until it's just past pink inside. As with pork, most people tend to overcook chicken. This only serves to make the chicken or pork dry, tough, and tasteless.
My accoutrements: shredded lettuce red onion shredded Monterey Jack cheese homemade salsa homemade creme fraiche
I placed the sliced sauteed chicken slices overtop the rice on a tortilla.
Added the Monterey Jack cheese. A Pepper-Jack would do very nicely here.
The heat of the chicken and rice will melt the cheese. Then I added some red onions.
I added salsa.
And a ribbon of creme fraiche.
And added the shredded lettuce.
Press the top of the tortilla over. Serve with more salsa and creme fraiche.
If you like, when you layer the rice, chicken, and cheese, you could nuke it to melt the cheese a bit more.
All the little Hawthornes loved this. And Middle Hawthorne told me: "This chicken wrap is a lot better than Mama Kwan's. And Mama, you know what? Creme fraiche is a lot better than sour cream."
He's seen the light.

Breakfast At Nags Head Fishing Pier.

Glowria, Xmaskatie, and I made plans Wednesday
to go out Thursday morning for breakfast.
I told Xmaskatie to call me first
so I'd know when she was coming.
I wasn't able to make it to the phone when she called,
so I called right back and Glowria answered,
and asked me if I still wanted to go.
"Yes, sure."
Then I heard the lilt go out of Glowria's voice.
And she grumbled something else under her breath
as she hung up.
After Wednesday's experience at The Blue Point
and last month's meal at Fisherman's Wharf in Wanchese,
I think Glowria was a little leary
about having me go out with them to yet another meal.
When Glowria picked me up,
I was told 3 strikes and you're out.
Breakfast was at Nags Head Fishing Pier.
The happpiest people in the world pass through this door.
And Glowria and Xmaskatie certainly look happy, don't they.
I like the decor here.
Our coffees and my tea were brought immediately.
(Score for the five lemons.)
I think we might have waited 5 minutes tops
for our breakfast.
I ordered sunny-side up eggs, hash browns,
whole wheat toast, Kathy,
bacon, and grits.
Glowria got the #15 platter:
Toast, hash browns,
and scrambled eggs with sausage.
Xmaskatie got the #1 platter:
Biscuit, bacon, eggs over easy, hash browns.
Our attentive, friendly waitress, Paula,
took very good care of us.
And Xmaskatie got her Texas Pete.
The service was excellent,
the food very good,
the prices modest,
and the views ...
... well, you can see for yourself.
And I think Glowria and Xmaskatie
will let me eat out with them again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Xmaskaties, Glowria, And Rosie Go To The Art Festival At The Whalehead Club Then Have Truly Mediocre To Bad, Overpriced Lunches At The Blue Point.

Here are Glowria and Xmaskatie,
last Wednesday,
at the entrance to
the 8th Annual Arts Festival,
"Under the Oaks,"
For 2 days (Wednesday and Thursday, June 23 and 24)
over 100 artists from all over the United States
displayed their artworks -
sculpture, ceramics, woodwork, jewelry,
enamel, watercolors, oils, acrylics, pastels, mixed media,
wrought iron, clay, wood, glass, basketry, photography.
Here are some random living history interpreters
strolling through the art festival.
Click on the picture to enlarge and notice
what ye gentlemanne on the lefte hath in his hande.
Didest they haveth bottled water backeth then?
Sadly, Glowria, Xmaskatie, and I were not up
for the 214 step, 162 foot climb to the top.
It was too hot.
The Whalehead Club is also home to the
Currituck Wildlife Museum
which showcases the wildlife heritage of this area -
the history of water fowl hunting and
the artistry of decoy makers.
You can go to Kathy's Reinventing A Boomer blog ,
and read about her January visit to the Museum, here.
Various critters in the wildlife museum.
Xmaskatie is sporting the baubles
she bought from one of the jewelry-makers
at the festival.
She was looking for earrings to match her necklace.
Here's our happy little party:
Glowria, Xmaskatie, Brother Xmaskatie,
Sister In Law Xmaskatie,
and Niece Xmaskatie.
This is the view of the Whalehead Club
from the Wildlife Museum.
Now, on to lunch.
At Xmaskatie's suggestion,
we went to the Blue Point Bar and Grill in Duck.
I can never remember the name of this restaurant.
And I always come up with Blue Oyster Cult instead,
which takes me to this:
When Xmaskatie worked up in Duck,
she had numerous good meals at the Blue Point
and was looking forward to another one.
Sadly, this wasn't it.
The last time I went to the Blue Point,
Mr. Hawthorne and I ordered
the oyster bisque and told the waitress
to bring us an extra spoon since we were going to share.
She gave us a funny look when she came back and I asked
her for a knife, so we could cut the ONE oyster in the bisque.
(We were sharing, remember?)
We placed our orders,
got our drinks promptly,
and waited.
And waited ...
And waited ...
For 45 minutes until we were served.
With no crackers.
Nothing to munch on.
Just refills of our drinks.
I decided to go out of my comfort zone today
and order something I normally wouldn't order.
Normally, I would order the crab soup and a Caesar salad
since that's one of my benchmarks for judging a restaurant.
But today,
I opted for 2 of the specials recited by our waiter.
The first was a cold tomato soup
slightly flavored by some basil
with crabmeat and one sad little cracker.
Now I was looking forward to the crabmeat
so you can see why I might be a tad disappointed
when I was served this.
For $4.95.
If you remember my previous post
and when to use what for which recipes,
this would be a case for using Jumbo Lump or Lump,
because you want to showcase the crab meat.
This is definitely NOT lump.
It's tiny little flavorless pieces of crab.
Plus, if you look at the crab meat,
you'll notice it's not even white.
That's because there's a pool
of overpowering olive oil on top of the crab meat.
I am not happy with the soup.
Sister In Law Xmaskatie
ordered the She Crab Soup "a la minute," which was apparently "a la 45 minutes."
I might have ordered this,
but it was $9.95 for a bowl,
and I had a $9.00/pound container of crab meat
sitting in my fridge, so I just couldn't justify that expenditure.
At least she got 2 crackers,
a sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning,
some chives, and a splash of Spanish Sherry.
Brother Xmaskatie ordered the fresh Carolina shrimp
and Edwards smoked surry sausage with
a cheddar grit "cake," tomatoes, scallions, and Creole spice
and I believe it was $11.50.
Six tiny shrimp were stuck heads-down in the grits
with their little tails sticking out.
And when I say tiny I mean tiny.
Compare them to the slice of lemon.
Hell, compare the whole plate to the slice of lemon.
I tasted the grits and the sauce
and it was mediocre.
I don't know how the shrimp were
since I wasn't going to take away from what little he had.
I am not impressed.
Glowria ordered the $8.50 meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes
(I'm a mashed potato purist. No garlic in mine, please.)
and big chunks of squash and zucchini.
I had a bite of the meatloaf and it was
spicy and smoky flavored.
Not bad.
But I prefer my own.
Here's what Glowria had to say about her meatloaf:
From Glowria:
Today my group of art aficionados decided to stop at the Blue Point Restaurant in Duck for what was expected to be an outstanding lunch after a long day of browsing the art stalls at the art show at the Whalehead club. We all ordered and patiently waited for our meals to be served. My $9 meatloaf with spicy ketchup, "hint of garlic" mashers and crunchy squash were all a pleasant- tasting burst of flavors that I will enjoy as leftovers tonight. I'm really glad I decided not to get the Asian salad.
Niece Xmaskatie ordered the pasta and vegetable dish for $6.95.
I didn't even bother taking a picture of that blandness.
Besides, the poor child had been dragged all over to,
what had to be for her, boring exhibits all morning,
then she had to wait a looooooooong time at the restaurant to be served
and was extremely well-behaved and a delight to be around the entire time.
She actually looked at me when she was served and said,
"You don't want to take a picture of mine do you?"
I later asked Xmaskatie about the vegetables supposedly in the pasta,
since I didn't detect any from my vantage point across the table.
She just said they were "the same color as the pasta."
What? Did she have turnips, potatoes, and parsnips in her pasta?
Please, Sir. May I have some more?
Xmaskatie and I both ordered the "Asian" salad,
for $8.95,
described as brined chicken over salad greens with
an Asian dressing and we could have sworn he said
peanuts sprinkled on top.
And here's my "Asian" salad.
There were no peanuts.
There were some strips of red pepper and carrot.
The "brined" chicken was slimy
and some of the pieces seemed undercooked.
I could taste some sesame oil.
The lettuce was limp.
That was it.
There was no crunch. No flavor. No texture.
Well, I guess you could consider "slimy" a texture,
but it's not one that I actively pursue.
I couldn't eat this hot mess.
Total damage: $84.00.
Here's what Xmaskatie had to say about it:
From Xmaskatie:
I was really looking forward to our lunch today at The Blue Point in Duck. I've never been disappointed with the food or service, and would often walk there from my office when I worked in Duck 7 years ago. So I suggested to our hungry group of 6 (which included a very patient and well behaved 7 year old) that we stop there after visiting the art show in Corolla, since I usually don't venture that far north anymore. The restaurant is huge now (I think it used to seat 30, including the porch area, now seats maybe 100+), and it still looked very nice, still had the great water view, and I was hoping it still had the type of food I look forward to eating. I remember the green goddess dressing was so perfect I asked the chef for the recipe. I still make that dressing today.
But, after we were promptly seated, and promptly served our drinks, and our order was taken, we waited for a good 45 minutes for our food. We arrived just after noon, and there were less than a dozen diners already seated, so the wait seemed excessive. I ordered the daily special, which was an Asian Salad with brined chicken, julienned romaine lettuce, cilantro, and a peanut dressing (or something with peanuts). It was very average. But for $9, it was well below average. The chicken was flavorless and some pieces looked undercooked (although that could have been the lighting), and a few red peppers & carrot strips sat sadly on the soggy romaine. I barely tasted any peanut, and just felt that the old Blue Point would have done it better. Adding some red onion, some cucumber strips, or water chestnuts, or snow peas, and using a mesclun mix of greens and crispy chinese noodles would have greatly improved this salad. The portion was small especially when for the same price you can get a delicious salad at Tortuga's Lie in Nags Head. In fact, I was still hungry after lunch, so came home and had a tuna salad sandwich and some pineapple for my 2nd lunch.
Really disappointing meal, only upsides were the attentive service (wasn't the waiter's fault how long it took to get to the table), and the wonderful company and stimulating conversation.
I still don't know what was "Asian" about it.
Yes!!!! I do now!
It's got CHOPSTICKS on the plate!!!!
That makes it Asian! I brought the chopsticks home with me. Next time I wok something, I will be culturally insensitive, a la Sandra Lee, and stick them in my hair.
Culinarily speaking,
this day blew chunks.
Big ones.
After not eating this "meal" Wednesday afternoon,
I didn't eat this meal Wednesday evening.
And that sucked big time.