My beat for the Herald Mail was the six counties of Frederick and Washington County, (Maryland), Morgan, Jefferson and Berkeley County (West Virginia), Franklin County (Pennsylvania). What a job! Anonymous Restaurant Reviewer. My heroine was Ruth Reichl of the New York Times. I wrote a yellow cookbook called Storyfest Journeys Cookbook. I wrote cookbooks of family recipes.
A blog seems like a good way to continue to share my love of food with you. I still take notes when we eat out. I can't break the habit. Nor can I break the habit of eating. I still ask the chef for the recipes. But most of all, I share meals with The Professor. He cooks and I write down the recipes. You are invited to join us.
What would we do if you came to visit us in Hagerstown? Here is what we did yesterday.
My nephew, Brendan and my sister-in-law Cyndi had visited Hagerstown at the beginning of the summer and had tasted the white pizza with shrimp at Dolce. They loved the combination of perfect pizza crust, ricotta cheese, garlic and shrimp. Back home in Brookeville, Brendan told his brothers, Jack and Kevin. Now they all three Kelly Boys wanted to come to Hagerstown to have this fantastic pizza. So, yesterday was the day.
First, we crossed the Mason-Dixon line as we visited Martin's Mill Covered Bridge in nearby Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The covered bridge spans the Conococheague and holds memories of days long ago. This day, we floated down the stream in inner tubes, swam, swung out over the water on a rope. Well, my nephews did. Cyndi, The Professor and I just sat beside the Conococheague River with our feet in its sweet cool water. Heaven.
Then we visited Martin's Farm Market off Route 11 in Hagerstown. We stocked up on candy and nuts. Gummy bears, chocolate and red licorice. Walnuts, cashews, and soy nuts. Yum. But not to spoil our appetites, they were put aside until we went to Dolce.
A warm welcome as always when we walked into Dolce. Franco immediately pegged my nephews as athletes. "Football?" he guessed. "Lacrosse," my nephews said.
Franco wore a rosary around his neck, one of those glow-in-the-dark kind. As children, we would crouch in the closet and watch that greenish rosary glow. No television back then! Simple pleasures.
First Franco brought us fresh garlic rolls, so hot we burned our palates in our eagerness to eat them.
The pizzas came next, one White Shrimp, the other one was Four Cheeses. Thumbs up came from my nephews. Jack spoke eloquently about the place of ricotta cheese on an excellent pizza.
The pizzas were completely gone when Franco came again with a gift of fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. "Like small funnel cakes," said Kevin. They were devoured in a flash. We all sat back, replete.
Then, the door opened. In came a man dressed in military fatigues carrying a brown paper bag. He went straight to the counter and handed the bag to Julia. She peeked in and cried out, "Tomatoes. From your garden. Thank you. Thank you." Mmm she blew him a kiss. He left, smiling.
The door opened again and a mother and her son came in. He was a stocky ten year old dressed in football gear and sporting a green cast on his right arm.
My nephews considered all the dangers of playing football with a broken arm. Dangers to the player himself and dangers to others who might get hit by that heavy arm.
The kid had a gorgeous mohawk hair cut. Perfect hair for it. And he was grinning. His mother ordered seven pizzas for his party down in Funkstown.
Julia grinned too. Seven pizzas!!!
The woman paid and Julia came from behind the counter. She swept the ten year old kid up in her arms and gave him a big smackeroo on his shaved head. She held him close to her bosom and hugged him tight. Then letting him go, she gave him one of the tomatoes. Franco was there again. "Eat your vegetables," he said to the kid.
That kid had a grin on his face from here to the Mason-Dixon line as he held that big red tomato in his hand.
That's life at Dolce's Restaurant. Generosity goes around in circles, giving and receiving. Blessing and being blessed. Cooking and eating. "Thank you for the tomatoes." "Here is a tomato just for you." How sweet life is at Dolce Restaurant!
The door opened again and we left for this day. In the parking lot, we divvied up the gummi bears and licorice sticks. Cyndi and my nephews drove back to Brookeville. We were home. Home in Hagerstown.
792 Frederick Street
Open 7 days a week. 10:30 am to 10:00 pm.
Cash only. No credit cards.
Pizza, gourmet and Eastern European foods.
Your comments are welcome...
First of all, I love all things related to trains. Long ago, my grandfather, Dan Kennelly, was an engineer for the Monongahela Connecting Railroad in Pittsburgh, PA.
The Highline passenger rail station still stands in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. From 1906 to 1936 this station was active. At one time there was seven daily round trip passenger trains between Hagerstown and Harrisburg. And there were commuter trains to Philadephia and New York. The train station closed in 1936 and after that the station had a rocky life. In the 1960's the station was used most fortuitously by the Boy Scouts who fixed it up as a meeting place. Now it is part of historic Greencastle.
Across the street is the Highline Coffee house and Cafe and I love it as well. It is like coming home to a clean, well lighted place where someone has just made a pot of homemade soup for me. The welcome is sincere. "Come on in Sit down. Will you be comfortable here? Just make yourself at home."
My book club met here for lunch today. The temperature outside was 100 degrees. Inside, we all tried to cope with the heat. Fans were on as well as the air conditioner, but we were still hot. 100 degrees is hot. "Use this room. Use these extra table for your books. Just spread out. What would you like to drink?" The welcome was so warm. What was a little heat?
So we settled into the rear glass enclosed alcove, as if it were our very own home. We exchanged greetings, then gifts and finally books. The best part of meeting at a restaurant for our book group is that we don't have to cook or clean at home. We just made a decision from the printed menu, then settled in to eat.
I chose the special of the day, roast beef with blue cheese crumbled dressing on focaccio bread. Two happily chose the special soup of the day, tomato florentine, a yummy creamy tomato spinach soup. Salads were popular on such a hot day. My friends enjoyed a lively mixture of specialty lettuces, dried cranberries, candied pecans and blue cheese. One friend chose the albacore tuna salad on artisan bread which was an excellent choice. We caught up on our lives and our families. Vacation and travel were discussed. We decided where we would meet next time and what book we would read. Everyone, almost, had a suggestion. And then it was over.
Did we discuss our wonderful book, Maisy Dobbs? I wondered. She has become our heroine, this feisty, authentic sleuth from the 1920's in London. She wore a cloche pulled down over her face, a roadster awaited her next adventure. We all admired Maisie Dobbs. For me, she is a grown up version of Nancy Drew. I am hooked on the series.
And, according to our complicated plan, here came my nephew, in town for a visit, so I said good bye to my book club. The Professor waited in another room for this is a house there are many rooms, like home. This room's walls bore a milky coffee color. The floors were oak. We sat at a window and shared our lives. All his children came to life as he told us about their interests and activities. Outside we watched the trains, Norfolk Southern, go by on elevated tracks in the backyard.
The Professor ate a lump crab cake on a Kaiser roll with a side of the fried sweet potatoes. Our nephew had the grilled salmon on focaccio bread along with home made potato chips. I sipped the strong dark coffee which I dream about at night, remembering the shock of the brilliant taste of this coffee along the edges of my tongue. Exemplary coffee. Staying on the tongue and then in the mind for a very long time. Dessert, of course. I had the creme bruleé which was satisfying, generous and gorgeous in its white fluted container. Our nephew had the warm blueberry cobbler that had a strong friendly taste of cinnamon.
We laughed and talked. "Oh, look, rain! At last! The heat broken for a moment."
Then we jumped. " What was that noise?" Looking out we saw that a limb had been torn from a tree and fell into the yard. This proved to be a violent storm in such heat.
Time to go back to our real home. I drove south, too fast for the weather conditions. But that was very strong coffee and I had two cups and I guess it stayed in my veins as well as my mind.
101 West Baltimore Street
Greencastle, PA 17225
Hours: Mon - Wed 7 am - 3 pm; Th and Fr 7 am to 9 pm; Sat 8 am - 9 pm; Sun closed.
Mary Jo Kelly Wilhelm, Ph.D.
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Here is a zen meditation on cooking and serving.
The cook's task is to be generous.
The guest's task is to be grateful.
A veranda wrapped itself all the way around the NoName Hotel where we stayed. For the Christmas season, an old Santa figurine stood at the front door and whistled Christmas carols. His tinny whistle sounded macabre. As I keyed us in, I felt a presence. A woman slipped into the hotel with me that night, a dark slender waif. My shadow was dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans. Up the stairs she tip-toed, pretending to live here.
In the middle of the dark night lit only by a half moon, a female voice - sibilant, seductive, threatening, high pitched - echoed in the hallway. "Snake woman," I said in my sleep and dreamed that the wraith of a woman slithered under my doorway.
In the morning, our host said, "We had a little incident last night. But I took care of it." The maid walked by, sullen, with vacuum cleaner in hand, headed for the room two doors down from us. I looked in and saw food strewn about and furniture all jumbled. A new set of rules was posted. "No slamming doors. No clomping on stairs and in hallways. No loud voices. No alcohol on veranda. No hanging out on the steps."
"Time for Breakfast," said the Professor. "We have a big day ahead of us. Food heals all."
To cap a full day of spectacular eating, we chose the old world elegance of Vienna's Restaurant and Cafe. We came for German food and we got a show. Sitting by the bookcase and next to the fireplace, we surveyed the room. Wes, the pianist, came to our table, offering to play our anniversary song. We looked at each other, wondering what 'our song' was. Oh, of course: "I left my heart in San Francisco."
My dinner was kassler - smoked pork loin with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. The potatoes were rich with cream and butter. The pork loin was good but not the German Mennonite pork products back home. The Professor had the sauerbrauten. He said it was okay, and that the red cabbage was nicely balanced sweet and sour. And "Spaetzle is spaetzle," he declared with authority.
We shared a sacher torte for dessert and nearly fought over the equal division of the frosting. But 43 years together teaches some survival skills. We ended our evening at Vienna's humming the love song of Maria and the Captain in Sound of Music's:
"For here you are, loving me, so, somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."
Vienna's Restaurant and Cafe at the Parkview Point Plaza, 275 South US Highway 17-92 (Charles Richard Beall Blvd.), DeBary, FL 32713, 386-668-0620 Tu-Th 11 am - 10 pm; Fri. 11am to midnight; Sat 9am to midnight; Sunday 9am - 8pm www.viennasrestaurant.com
We walked along the beach for a while until the smell of the sea led us to long for an oyster or two. On our honeymoon, we had gone to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and bought a whole bushel of oysters from two men who spoke English as if they had come from Devon long ago. We cooked those oysters every which way: raw, poached, fried in butter. Finally, we put the whole lot of them in the oven and watched until they opened up. Such abundance! Maloney's Oyster Bar is just down the street from Jason's Corner at 147 Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach, FL. Tiles overhead in the restaurant depicted oystermen with tongs on flat bottomed boats. "The oysters were not available yet," our waitress said. "Oh, but the clams were sweet and from Florida." And so we ordered clam stew. What a kick! Buttery. Hot. Salty. Lots of clams. Signs of onions, celery and parsley, small and crunchy. Cracked peppercorns. A lovely milky skin sat on top of the stew. The clams tasted of the sea, salty and sandy. The chowder was served with pumpernickel bread, the color of gingerbread, but not sweet. A perfect complement to the fragrant clam chowder. Young girls leapt into a silver sports car and zipped away. Breezes. 64 degrees. Blue sky. Oh, my!
Maloney's Oyster Bar, Historic Downtown New Smyrna Beach, 147 Canal Street; 386-424-1312
Winter hours: Lunch: Mon & Wed 11:30 - 3:30; Lunch and Dinner: Tues & Thurs 11:30 - 10:30; Lunch and Dinner: Fri and Sat 11:30 - 8:30.
Let's start this blog with breakfast on the morning of our 43rd wedding anniversary at Jason's Corner, Historical 135 Canal Street in Central Florida near the end of the year 2010. We drank fresh hot coffee as we sat in the sun and The Professor read aloud about the St. Johns River. Sun sweet, sun ripe, sun shine. Sinatra sang 'Let It Snow.' It was nearly Christmas. A little girl in a pink tutu twirled around an old couple who tottered by, leaning on each other. Breakfast served outside: Traditional eggs benedict - yellow orbs on an English muffin with Canadian ham rounds, homemade yellow hollandaise sauce and cubed hashed potatoes on the side. Two glasses of fresh orange juice, of course. Golden liquid, sun juice, orange juice, bright lemon yellow, red juice, sweet-wake-me-up-sour Florida orange juice. The child in the pink dress cried as if her heart was broken. The next set of old people used walkers and oxygen tanks. A young couple walked arm-in-arm, in love, eager, sweet, so sweet, eager sweet love. Forty three years. Oh, yes.
Jason's Corner Historical 135 Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach, FL; 386-424-9878; Fax 386- 424-9812; www.jasonscorner.com Breakfast and lunch Mon - Sat 7:30 - 3:00 Sunday 7:30 - 2:00 Dinners: Tuesday and Saturday 5:00 pm 9:00 pm