Maryland crab cakes at Timbuktu

image

I took Maurizio and Annie to buy take-out crab cakes at this unlikely crab cake venue on Dorsey Road in Hanover, Maryland: an out of the way, side of the highway restaurant and take-out joint. A place, if I were hungry and looking for a place to eat, I would not drive into. The name Timbuktu, and the camel logo, promise nothing related to seafood…and probably nothing I’d like to eat at all. As we drove in and parked Annie remarked that she’d never come all the way back to this place no matter how good the crab cakes were.

Like most people, myself included, she associates great crab cakes with waterfront venues in Baltimore Harbor or Annapolis, or nice spots in downtown D.C. Generally I would agree but my sister and brother-in-law changed my mind a few years back and sold me on Timbuktu. The crab cakes are enormous…two or three times the size of crab cakes one is generally served. They are delicious; flavorful and meaty, with just a minimum of breading and other ingredients necessary to hold them together. We ordered one a piece and were stuffed and thoroughly pleased.

image

Here’s what Zagat has to say about Timbuktu:

“Crab cakes are the real draw” at this “raucous” Hanover seafooder where “an undemanding but hungry” army of eaters goes gaga for “hearty” patties made with “golf-ball-size chunks of crab and very little filler”; “don’t count on ambiance” in the cavernous space, but prices are “reasonable”, and the “friendly” service “keeps pace.”

The good news is that Timbuktu delivers nationwide. I’ve never ordered them for shipment but I’m confident that they are nothing other than delicious. Timbuktu has a restaurant and lounge, as well as a massive take-out business. By the way, Annie will be making the drive to return here.

Here’s Timbuktu’s recipe for Crab Soup. I haven’t tried it but I’m pretty confident it’s delicious:

Maryland Crab Soup

2 ounces pork or ham bone
2 quarts water
3 (1-pound) can whole tomatoes, crushed
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups diced potatoes
3 medium stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons OLD BAY® Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound Maryland crabmeat

Cut pork into pieces and put into 8-quart pot. Add water, cover and simmer about one hour. Add remaining ingredients, except crabmeat and cook until vegetables are done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add crabmeat to soup. Heat through.

Handcrafted Wine Bottle Stoppers

Outside of San Francisco’s ferry building I often find more artisanal creations of interest than within. Yesterday, my only day in town on this visit, I ran across some beautiful woodworked items ranging from vases to bowls to cutting boards to wine bottle stoppers.

I enjoy taking a bottle of wine to a dinner at friends’ homes but I often find that the wine I bring along doesn’t get drunk because the host already has a pairing vision for the meal and has the wine choice organized. These wine bottle stoppers are all so beautiful and stay in tune with the wine-themed gift idea. They’re all in the $25 price range and notwo are alike. They’re made from different woods, each carved and stained differently.

image

Artist Brad Adams says this about his wood turnings:

The majority of my pieces are created from local trees that have succumbed to wind, disease, or urban expansion. I derive a great amount of pleasure from making things of beauty out of material that was destined for the landfill or the fireplace.

I find working with wood analogous to working with people. Each piece of wood is unique, and quite frequently has a mind of it’s own. It’s sometimes a challenge to find and expose the inner beauty, but it is an enjoyable and rewarding process.

Growing up on a farm in Northern Illinois, raised by depression era parents, the idea of ever becoming an artist had never crossed my mind. Now, after careers in fisheries biology and computer networking, I find myself a full time artist. I took up woodturning in 1999 and it has since become my passion and my addiction. I am the Secretary of the Bay Area Woodturners Association and a member of American Association of Woodturners as well as the World of Woodturners.

Wine bottle stoppers

image

image

Carciofi alla Romana

We’re still fully in the season of Roman, or globe, artichokes. There are so many delicious ways to prepare them, but the best is Carciofi alla Romana.

image

All the ingredients needed you probably have on hand except for the mentuccia (calamint). Good chance you have that too; look in your garden for a very delicate mint with tiny, soft tender leaves.

Carciofi alla romana

Carciofi alla romana

 

I buy artichokes that have already been partially cleaned at the market, in other words all the tough outer leaves removed, plus the outer layer of the stem. To prepare:

I use a melon baller to remove the beard from inside the artichoke.

Once this is done finely chop a garlic clove, two handfuls of mentuccia leaves, a heaping tablespoon of fresh breadcrumbs and a drizzling of olive oil. This is enough stuffing for four artichokes.

Use your fingers to put the stuffing into the center of each artichoke, plus some in between the leaves.

Lay the artichokes sideways in a pan, drizzle with olive oil, 1/2 cup dry white wine and enough water to keep the artichokes moist.

Cover and cook 45 minutes, until very tender and the liquid has evaporated. Turn the artichokes over occasionally during the cooking process.

Serve warm or at room temperature!

Pappardelle with funghi porcini

Pappardelle con Funghi Porcini

Pappardelle with funghi porcini: they lend themselves well to a long, and wider, pasta shape like this. Fettuccine work well too, but also a shorter pasta like rigatoni, penne and my current favorite. Funghi porcini are best fresh but they also freeze well for future use. Pappardelle with funghi porcini (four people): Ingredients: Pasta, 400…

Everything old becomes new…

Recycled bicycle

An old rusty bicycle becomes a perfect prop for baskets of flowers. I saw this at a restaurant in Ponte Milvio, in north Rome and was charmed by it. Often what is old and rusty and no longer of utilitarian value takes on a new function of beauty. Old wheelbarrows, old shutters and doors, and…

Calvi, Umbria – the Festa di San Pancrazio

Calvi Festa di San Pancrazio

Calvi in Umbria lies just barely north of the Lazio region, along the Via Flaminia. If you happen by the area it’s well worth making a stop to take a look at this medieval borgo. From the hill town you can look down upon the rolling Umbrian countryside, as pictured above. The town’s major festival,…

Saturday outdoor market in Sperlonga

Saturday outdoor market in Sperlonga

Saturday morning is the big outdoor market day in Sperlonga. One of my favorite vendors has an assortment of olives cured by his family owned azienda agricola, including local Gaeta olives. He also prepares whole red peppers in an agrodolce bath. Most of the peppers go by the wayside as the process is lengthy and…

Homemade bread with home-ground flours

Homemade bread with home ground flours

Yesterday I had friends for lunch and prepared what has now become my go-to homemade bread. It’s a recipe I’ve been working on for over a year now, adding and subtracting ingredients, and working with different flours and grains. My friend Dagmar got me started on grinding my own flours and it really does make…