Out and About (Sort of): Dining in a Kitchen – Just Right by Howard Freedlander

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Amid all the wonderful restaurants in our area, I had a particularly unusual and tasteful experience two weeks ago. It happened in a kitchen, albeit a commercial one.

For years my wife and I have enjoyed the culinary delights produced by our favorite caterer, Blue Heron Catering. The owner, Susan Joy, and her hard-working staff seem almost like family to us. Mind you; our needs are simple. Nonetheless, Susan and her crew unfailingly proffer terrific food, surpassed only by their service and friendliness.

Blue Heron Catering has been an integral part of memorable family occasions, including a milestone birthday, a recent retirement and Thanksgiving.

At this point, I will say only that this column is not intended as an advertisement, just a description of the first-time event for me. A food critic I am not.

My wife and I hosted a kitchen party at Blue Heron Catering, which recently moved to a strip shopping center on Dover Road. Most folks probably know this nondescript spot by its longtime tenant, Domino’s Pizza. It once housed a Sherwin-Williams Paint Store. And it nearly adjoins Rails to Trails.

No commercial kitchen party is worth its name without a demonstration. That’s exactly what the affable and talented Susan Joy did, as she explained how she prepared the main course, Beef Wellington. Some “foodies” among our guests peppered (excuse the pun) with questions about ingredients and other details concerning preparation. She handled all queries and comments in her typically calm, easygoing manner.

Lest I forget, not only did this kitchen dinner party provide a different and appealing venue, it meant that at its completion we had no responsibility for clean-up. That result was downright pleasant.

A very basic eater, who rarely savors in particularly critical detail his food, I found it wonderfully tasty and fulfilling. My hunger was easily satisfied. Our guests seemed pleased too.

On a personal level, I have long considered pigs in a blanket my very most favorite hors-d’oeuvre. Along the way, I’ve discovered that others with far more sophisticated and discerning tastes than mine also crave this rather basic food offering.

According to Wikipedia, the source of voluminous information in our modern world, pigs in a blanket (hot dogs wrapped in bread) are served not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Canada, and Japan. In the United Kingdom (UK), “pigs in blankets” are small sausages wrapped in bacon, “a traditional accompaniment to roast turkey in a Christmas dinner.” They often are followed by “devils on horseback,” an appetizer of prunes wrapped in bacon.

Were I in the UK, I would forswear the “devils on horseback.”

So, why am I expending my words and your attention on this personal delicacy?

Because Susan Joy served pigs in a blanket at our kitchen party. She did so to please me, though she and my wife had far loftier options on their minds.

Sitting around a square table for 12 people, our guests seem enthralled not only by the unusual venue but also by the quality of  Blue Heron Catering food. As mentioned, some of these folks truly appreciate good food and feel comfortable as chefs in their own kitchens. They ate admiringly.

As noted at the outset, our community offers many delightful eateries, each with its own personality and appealing dining experiences. For us and our guests, a dinner party at a commercial kitchen operated by a professional and gracious chef in an unremarkable shopping center was simply terrific.

Thank you, Susan Joy, for the pigs in a blanket.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Jack Fischer says:

    Amen to pigs in a blanket, brother. Food of my soul!!

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