Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

The Hazards of Restaurant Reviewing – Why Amateurs Fail

August 11, 2011

A Pan Seared Sea Scallop

The following review of the Mattabesset Canoe Club restaurant in Middletown by Matthew F. Donahue appeared recently in Middletown Patch:

Wandering the shops of Main Street, my path lit by the glowing neon open signs of local eateries, I often find picking a venue to indulge in Middletown’s latest gustatory creations difficult with so many options. One night I found myself wandering the beaten path of Main Street, venturing down the off-shooting street, deKoven Drive, heading toward Harbor Drive and happening upon the old Harbor Park Restaurant.

As it has recently opened under new ownership as the Mattabesett Canoe Club, I decided to give the new place a peruse.

As I walked through the park toward the restaurant with one of my closest friends, Kaila Madera, the outline of the Canoe Club’s exterior came into focus and it was evident at once: the entire building was renovated and business was looking up, as seen by the crowded parking lot. Pleased with the aesthetic changes to the exterior and sunset in the horizon lighting the Connecticut River with golden rays, we approached the door with excitement; we aren’t the type to skip a meal and seafood always tops my list of favorites.

The hostess greeted us with a warm smile, asked us where we would like to sit and led us upstairs to sit at an outside balcony table. Guided by the light of a flickering candle centered in the table, we perused the menu and found ourselves crippled with indecision. As the waitress approached, we both looked blankly at the menu and by the time she arrived, we decided to order multiple menu items, splitting each dish. Sampling never hurt anyone, right?

Starting off with some shrimp and a couple of fresh oysters, we were ready to tackle the rather large meal about to arrive. We started off with seared sea scallops drizzled with a balsamic reduction glaze served over risotto. After getting past the idea of the origins of sea scallops, I thoroughly enjoyed the lightly grilled wonders, noting the nice contrast between the sweetness of the risotto and tartness of the balsamic reduction.

After nearly licking my plate clean and prodding my seafood-apprehensive friend to be a little more adventurous, we welcomed our second course: pan-seared swordfish served alongside a fresh mango gastrique, served over a house-made succotash that featured snow peas and roasted vegetables instead of lima beans.  The mango gastrique, a sauce composed by carmelizing sugar and then adding vinegar, fresh fruit and juice, highlighted the perfecly cooked swordfish steak’s robust flavor, while adding a tangy kick at the same time.

Even more pleased with the pan-seared swordfish steak than the other dishes, we both agreed that it was a great combination and a must-have the next time we happened at the Canoe Club.

Taking a break from seafood, we took a breather and then sampled a small piece of slow-cooked braised pork shank, sitting atop a parsnip puree and served with slender and tender asparagus shoots. The pork fell off of the bone with ease and its tender meat was welcomed with warm hungry mouths, but the four to 12 hours of cooking did not prove as satisfying as first thought, although perhaps this was because our portions were merely samples of the entire dish.

About ready to burst, but ready to tackle another plate, we savored the taste of an unlikely pair, rosemary and blueberry, in our next dish: salmon toasted in rice paper served over a blueberry and rosemary red wine sauce. Apprehensive how the strong flavors of rosemary and blueberry would mesh, we slowly forked small bite-fulls into our mouths. I was pleasantry surprised how well the rosemary complemented the blueberry and red wine reduction, while contrasting with the crispy crunch of the salmon’s wrapping and cool cucumber chunks.

Kaila disagreed. Not a huge fan of rosemary and fennel, she thought the blueberry sauce was overpowered by the rosemary; however, upon completion of the dish, she still deemed the dish satisfying and even stabbed a few fork-fulls of mine!

Cleansing our palette with a fresh summer salad, we were about to throw down our napkins and call the meal a done deal when our waitress recommenced their new pineapple crème brûlée and we could not resist the temptation. We were not disappointed, either, even though we were definitely full, we somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée, dipping small pieces of biscotti into the custardy delight.

Fresh pineapple chunks proved refreshing and a nice alternative to a dish that usually remains rather bland with just a splash of vanilla.

Accompanied by an acoustic show, a great view and the best of company, our night out at Mattabesett Canoe Club was one to never forget!

Pork Shank, Parsnip Puree, and Asparagus

Our response:

Matthew Donahue, our young scout on the prowl for gustatory delights, just happened upon the Mattabesset Canoe Club while venturing on an “off-shooting” street. The ghost of the Middletown Yacht Club loomed as though reborn and aesthetically changed, the fleeting rays of sunlight reflected off the river enhancing the enchantment. Scout Odonahue and his companion were hungry and hardly ever known to skip a meal.

They were escorted to a balcony table by a smiling hostess. The table with its center candle provided the perfect atmosphere for a couple’s dining pleasure. The menu was presented and, what to their wondering eyes did appear but a plethora of visual and gustatory delights for eye and palate. They perused and perused but could not decide so when the moment of truth came our intrepid scout declared; “We’ll try everything, sampling never hurt anyone, right?”

And so it went, course after course, sample after sample, tidbit after tidbit, on and on with the balsamic reductions,mango gastrique, the rosemary and blueberry sauce until our explorer was about to lick his plate clean while simultaneously bursting.

Our explorers were about to throw up…or rather throw down… their napkins. but the meal was not quite “a done deal yet” because the waitress “recommenced” their new pineapple crème brûlée. (I don’t pretend to know exactly when the Canoe Club “commenced” their pineapple crème brûlée but I am pleased that it is being offered again)

Feeling “definitely full” our brave pair “… somehow found enough room to eat the entire crock of crème brûlée”

Moral: Food writing and restaurant reviews are fine fodder for satire, and even ridicule, which of course was not our intent.

Advertisements

Chimp Story Has Legs: Now Sharpton Weighs In

February 19, 2009

She fed him filet mignon and lobster tails. They shared cozy glasses of wine. They bathed and slept together. He tenderly brushed her hair. She gave him gifts and sweet kisses. He drew her pictures…But this was no ordinary affair of the heart. Sandra Herold was engaging in these loving acts with a 200-pound pet ape.Her human friends said they were always leery of the interspecies intimacy.

We wrote a few days ago about the horrific chimp attack in Stamford CT in which a woman was nearly killed by an enraged pet chimpanzee. The story has gone viral; the NY Post has been running with it all week. This Sean Delonas NY Post cartoon yesterday brought publicity hound Al Sharpton and New York governor David Patterson into the fray:

NY Post, Sean Delonas

NY Post, Sean Delonas

Sharpton is quoted in Newsday saying the cartoon is “troubling at best” while Patterson meanwhile, having been briefed with a verbal description of the cartoon, said “Images of black people portrayed as primates do feed a kind of negative and stereotypical way that some people think.”

NY Post Editor Col Allan’s response: “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit, the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined comment on the controversy saying he, like Gov Patterson, had not seen the cartoon but used the opportunity to diss the NY Post as unnewsworthy. Predictably, protests began (photo gallery); below New York state senator Eric Adams protests at the NY Post headquarters:

State Senator Eric Adams, Newsday Photo

State Senator Eric Adams, Newsday Photo

The chimpanzee attack and public response has revived the old stereotype of white folks thinking of black folks in simian terms. While there can be a racist aspect to such characterizations, it depends after all, on the context as is the case with the NY Post cartoon. The American Bush hating Left had no hesitation in depicting Geroge W. Bush as a chimp when they pleased: (the following appeared at Steady Habits, 5/19/08)

Bush Chimp vs Obama Chimp….

How come this is OK…..

…But this isn’t….

A bunch of people in Marietta, Georgia were protesting this one; it is a tee shirt sold by a bar owner who says he has no racist intent, merely thinks the resemblance between Obama and Curious George is humorous. I agree, the big ears, the big smile, uncanny! Look what “W” had to put up with going on 8 years. What do you think?

Video here, “how African-Americans have been deplicted
Funny video here where TV interviewer tries to get seller to admit he’s racist. It doesn’t work!

More about this at:

Wizbang, Doctor Bullldog & Ronin

Sandra Herold & Travis: A Happier time

Sandra Herold & Travis: A Happier time

Uganda Echo at Willimantic Co-Op Feb 14 2009

February 15, 2009

29 Cakes for Willi Co-Op Birthday

Valentine’s Day 2009 was also a birthday celebration at the Willimantic Food Co-Op in Willimantic (CT). This is their 29th year and the organization appears healthy and active. The February 14 shindig featured food displays and sampling, music and dancing, and 29 special cakes. We were able only to catch the first hour or so of the party but had fun photographing the crowd and making the following video:

Below is an earlier video with most of the same personnel:

Let Them Eat Cake....

Let Them Eat Cake....

Ringing in the New Year on a Snowy Eve….

January 1, 2009

What could be better than the Liberty Bell to ring in the New Year!

freedoms-ring

We had a delightful snowfall most of today in Middletown leaving us with a bitterly cold night to begin 2009. Mid afternoon found us socked in downtown:
middletown-snow1-123108
Sufferin’ Cats!
sufferin-cats-2

Global Warming News, Or is It Cooling?

November 30, 2008

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art will be hosting a public meeting Tuesday evening Dec 9, 2008, at 7PM in the Memorial Room at First Church, 190 Court St, Middletown. The subject: “What You Can Do About Global Warming and Energy Policy in Connecticut“. The speaker:

Roger Smith, Coordinator of the Connecticut Climate Coalition and Campaign Director of Clean Water Action will tell us what energy- and climate-related legislation is coming up in the January 2009 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. Roger has a wealth of information and experience in this area.

In what will certainly be another tough budget year, citizen action will be critical in order to pass progressive energy-related legislation and help consumers hurt by high fossil fuel prices. This is your opportunity to help shape our energy future and slow global warming.

A slight shift of gears is called for here as we mention one of our favorite bloggers on the subject of climate change; Gateway Pundit. Their post today presents a huge array of sources and stats that gives credence to the notion that the earth is cooling not warming. Read about it here…..

Of course cooling has been mentioned before; remember Newsweek from April 25, 1975? (PDF)

Finally, we couldn’t resist….

Global Warming or Cooling?



Farmer's Almanac Says It's Global Cooling

Farmer's Almanac Says It's Global Cooling


Old Farmer’s Almanac Latest Prediction for 2009 and beyond (video)

Reporting From Seattle….

September 20, 2008

I am visiting with my daughter in Seattle for a week or so; thought I’d post a few photographs. Seattle is a very interesting city. The climate here is quite temperate and the garden and plantings are lush. Every sidewalk and roadway is lined with vines, hedges, roses, and trees of all sorts.


Interesting sidewalk planting!


This 1906 church being converted to condos while preserving the exterior including stained glass dome.


Here is view of interior and dome.


A very young street musician!


Red sun, red hair, red wine!

A giant steps out at Seattle Art Museum!

The SAM giant

Lots of fish in Seattle!

Kiss a Fish!

Fish in your face!


Tasteless Exploitation of July Fourth Dept…

July 4, 2008

Ha! The Redcoats were hardly mosquitoes! Actually our founders were the mosquitoes and piss ants that won the day and our freedom.

Carbon Offset Scam: $$ to Assuage the Guilt

May 21, 2008

Wesleyan Recommends Buying Good Feelings….

Wesleyan is making a green pitch to help well heeled, guilt laden alumni, traveling to the upcoming Reunion/Commencement, feel better about their carbon footprint. The Wesleyan University web site says:

To offset your carbon emissions when traveling to Reunion & Commencement Weekend this year, please visit the Carbonfund.org web site! Use their Auto and Airline calculators to estimate the amount of carbon you will produce in traveling to and from Middletown, and make a donation to Carbonfund’s carbon-reducing projects to offset your impact. (and)

You will notice a new color standing out against the traditional black and red regalia decorating the 176th graduating class during its commencement ceremony this year: Green. A symbol of our dedication to producing an increasingly sustainable Reunion & Commencement Weekend, all graduating seniors, graduate students, alumni and their families, as well as faculty and staff members, will have the opportunity to don green ribbons indicating their commitment to the Wesleyan Community Climate Agreement and to leading a more environmentally conscientious and sustainable lifestyle in future pursuits.

The Washington Post had an interesting article on Aug 16, 2007 (excerpts):

With a click, a credit card and $99, visitors can pay a Silver Spring nonprofit group, Carbonfund.org, to “offset” a year’s worth of greenhouse-gas emissions. Whatever the customer put into the atmosphere — by flying, driving, using electricity — the site promises to cancel out, by funding projects that reduce pollutant

Sites such as this one, offering absolution from the modern nag of climate guilt, have created a $55 million industry that once would have been beyond the greenest of imaginations. The market for “voluntary carbon offsets” now encompasses dozens of sellers and thousands of buyers, including individuals and corporations.

But in some cases, these customers may be buying good feelings and little else.

A closer look reveals an unregulated market in which some improvements bought by customers are only estimated, extrapolated, hoped-for or nil. Some offsets support projects that would have gone forward anyway. Others deliver results difficult to measure.

Carbonfund.org, for example, has advertised offsets that finance wind farms and tree-planting projects. But some wind farms said the donations haven’t led to anything new….

Blogger Doug Bandow at OpenMarket.org opines:

What a great system. I think I will open a carbon offset business. Pay me, oh, $100 and I will plant a sprig that will eventually become a tree, absorbing the carbon dioxide that you’re causing by getting on an airplane or buying a computer or, especially, driving to work. And I am offering a special deal, today only! A dozen trees for just $1000. How can you beat that? Just send your checks to me, in care of CEI. It is a classic win-win situation: You can feel good about yourself while I can go look for another antique chess set or rare history book.

Just When You Thought….Yep, More Sharks!

May 4, 2008

Chalk another one up for Global Warming: An increase in world-wide shark attacks on human beans. At least that’s how the Guardian U.K. sees it. The headline screams: Surge in Fatal shark Attacks Blamed on Global Warming.

When you actually read the article you find more compelling reasons for the alleged surge: i.e. increased numbers of peeps recreating in ocean waters and/or overfishing depleting shark food stocks. Finally the money line: “Another contributory factor to the location of shark attacks could be global warming and rising sea temperatures.”

Btw, I would recommend staying out of the water at New Smyrna Beach FL which is called, ” the shark attack capital of the world. It has had more recorded incidents per square mile than any beach on Earth….It’s more like a vicious dog bite, half a dozen stitches, a few bandages, that sort of thing,” said an observer referring to the common 2-3′ black tip sharks doing most of the nipping.

Photo Notes:

Top-Great White and Kayacker

Bottom-Fishing for Black Tip Sharks

Postscript:

Friend Shane writes: “I live in the desert I should be ok unless there are any land shark sightings”

I replied: ” No land sharks, but there are sand sharks. Actually they’re real and lifeguard rescues one.

Another friend: “Sharks are evil creatures. They do not sleep and a few species have been known to replicate by self induced cloning, if they ever figure out a way to breath on land I say we give up and submit to our new hammerhead masters.”

Me: Evil creatures, nay!

…everyone talks about sharks, not only in connection with shark fin soup and potency products but also because of their mostly predatory habits and their alleged bloodthirsty character. In the process it is forgotten that almost 70% of all currently living sharks are intensely engaged in caring for their young and practice a form of brooding which we usually connect with mammals: To be precise the female keeps her developing eggs in the final section of the oviduct, called the womb or uterus, and following a long gestation period gives birth to fully developed, extremely independent pups, in other words, sharks give birth to living offspring. to be precise, many sharks are viviparous.
Source: Shark Info

Here is a hammerhead female with 15 well-developed pups which were removed from the uterus.

Cows and Pigs are SUV’s, Bugs are Bicycles

February 10, 2008

Humans need to become insectivorous and to encourage this imperative the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization is sponsoring an event titled “Forest Insects as Food: Humans Bite Back” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The NY Times reports today that among the topics to be addressed at the workshop later this month is “Why douse fields with pesticides if the bugs we kill are more nutritious than the crops they eat?” Of course NY Times coverage would not be complete without the obligitory food do-gooder to disabuse meat and potatoes Americans of the notion that bugs are, well, yucky.

The Times folks trot out one David Gracer: “one of a small but growing number of people earnestly working to transcend the yuck factor. By day, Gracer teaches expository writing at the Community College of Rhode Island. By night, he stalks America’s elite chefs with an electric wok and Tupperware stuffed with six-legged critters in an attempt to convince them that consuming insects is both pleasing to the palate and good for the planet.”

Says Gracer; “Insects can feed the world. Cows and pigs are the S.U.V.’s; bugs are the bicycles.”

Source: NY Times Magazine 2/10/08

Also see “Insect Cuisine: Good for You”
“Food Insect Festivals of North America”

New article today on our Global Warming..page.