Goodbye 2015


Mark off another one! The years are piling up, and the pile is getting higher than I ever imagined it would. Would it ever have seemed possible to be looking  back towards 70 and thinking  it seems young? Well, here I am at 82, and even that doesn’t seem so old. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Of course, the body that’s now going into its 83rd year doesn’t work  quite as smoothly as it used to.  Random pains in random places are not uncommon. People often show me more deference than I feel I’m entitled to, and middle-aged ladies call me “honey,” without any hint of romantic interest. I look at myself in the mirror and think I haven’t changed that much, but a picture from 30 years ago will have me thinking “Who was that young guy!”

Last year I went to my 60th college reunion. The fact is, I haven’t stayed in close touch with many of my classmates, and when I think of them I still visualize  college freshmen. At the reunion, I think “Whoa, what happened to these guys?” Despite the passage of years, however,  memories remain fresh, and sharing them is exhilarating.

grad kim - Copy

At my reunion

All in all, 2015 was a good year.  Firestone’s Culinary Tavern continues to do well and is a source of pride. Both the bar and the dining room are flourishing. The staff is solid. We successfully moved the Market on Market to a new building adjacent to the old one, and the move has worked out well. Our efforts to turn the old building into a combination of newly-renovated apartments upstairs, and a raw-bar-extension of the restaurant downstairs have been slowed by the need to get building permits and the bureaucracy involved therein. It’s not easy to meet modern codes in old buildings!  Could I turn myself back into a teenager?

Anyway, it’s a new year, bringing hopes and expectations. Some may be realistic, some not so much so, but hope does spring eternal!


Here’s to 2016! May it bring everyone health, success and peace!




Do I feel guilty when I leave the ice and snow of Maryland for  the sunny, warm (albeit overly-dry) climate of Northern California, for the month of January?

Well, maybe a little. The positives way offset the negatives, though. Much as I love the routines of the little farm in Middletown, where I live, I don’t mind taking a break from breaking up the ice in the chicken house so my dozen hens can get water. I don’t miss getting out the snow shovel so I can get down my front steps. I don’t miss jumping over piles of snow to get from the street to the sidewalk, and into my restaurant and market in downtown Frederick., even though I do miss the people and the action there.

“Hey,” I tell myself,”I’m 81 years old. If not now, when?”

What do I find when I move into the house in Carmel Valley that I rent for a month? Other than good weather, I find a peaceful setting in which:  a flock of wild turkeys casually wander around the property; deer poke there heads out from the trees; a big vegetable garden  supplies some of the needs of the Carmel Valley Ranch (where my house is); and beekeepers watch over bees making honey.


Turkeys on a Stroll

PLUS,..there’s golf to play, a beautiful ocean coastline to admire, art galleries to wander through in Carmel, and a host of good places to eat, most of them on the casual side.


 Grilled chicken at Café Rustica

But the most  important part of it all: I get to connect with my kids and grandkids. Three out of four kids live in California, and the other would fly from Texas just to play golf, even if he didn’t care about seeing me! They can’t all come at once, so they take turns, fitting in two or three day stays coordinated with their own kids school/work schedules.So far I’ve seen son Chris, with his wife Whitney and their three young boys; Rhodes, Wilson and Clay; and daughter Carey has visited, with Tim and sons Sammy and John (Alison and Michele couldn’t make it).


Clay (l.) and Chris

I also got a chance to take a side trip of my own, driving 3 1/2 hours to Lemoore, where my stepson Boris is stationed as a navy pilot. I met some of his squadron mates, took a tour of the base, and had a chance to see what it was like to “fly” a simulator.



Was it the pull of family or a passion for golf that brought grandson Sammy Romer out from New York for the weekend, and back in time for work Monday morning, on the red-eye? Of course, he just wanted to see his grandpa! Anyway, with Sammy, brother John, and their dad Tim, I had a great time playing a round at Cypress Point. Carey came out to watch our struggles (the struggles being mostly grandpa’s).

foursome (2)

3-Generational Foursome

Curtis and Leonard will be coming later, and Borya is also planning a trip up from Lemoore. On top of that, brother Brooks is going to try to get up for dinner, if Kate’s recent hip replacement is doing well enough.

A great family time, and, if I’m lucky, the ice will have melted by the time I get home!



I recently got a copy of my college alumni magazine. The friend who writes up class notes kindly mentioned that I had started a blog. “Oops” I thought, realizing I hadn’t come up with a new post since sometime last summer. Funny how time gets away from you.

Well, I’m still here, still showing up daily at Firestone’s Culinary Tavern and the little Market on Market next door, and still attempting to make progress on a project that involves moving the market to a building next door and using  the abandoned space to expand the restaurant.

If I was limiting my blog posts to updates on this project I wouldn’t have had much to write about anyway. Making changes to buildings in the historical district of Frederick, where probably 80% of the buildings are functioning fine, but don’t meet current codes in some way, is not easy. There have been lots of negotiations and compromises. We are finally starting to get some work done!


A Start

Obscure but inflexible regulations of our Liquor Board require us to be ready to open by February 28th if we want to transfer our license to sell wine and beer. It might be tight, but we’ve got a great building crew and if anybody can do it they can.

What else is going on? A recent highlight was a trip to Ft. Worth to celebrate Thanksgiving with my son Leonard and his family. Leonard is also in expansion mode, with his distillery and, like me, has also run into unexpected delays. It’s a long story, but it looks like it will have a happy ending, allowing for more production of his excellent TX Whiskey and its yet-to-be born aged bourbon brother.


Leonard at work on the turkey, aided by a nearby glass of TX whiskey

The weather was good, we brined the turkey and it came out perfect, and we watched a lot of football. Exercise consisted of running his kids around, and as you can see below, leaf-raking gave them an excuse to take a break.


Nothing like a bed of leaves

Dancin’ In The Street


The normally quiet crossing at Church Street and North Market was buzzing with activity last Saturday during Frederick’s annual In The Street Festival. A series of groups….  gymnasts, acrobats, dancers, and drummers kept the crowd entertained, as one part of the overall festivities. An early rain may have dampened the streets, but didn’t dampen the festive spirit.


Great dancing


The beat goes on


Walkin’ the street


A sale

The early rain made for a slow start, but as the weather improved during the afternoon, so did our sales. Kim, Kathy, Gill and Chef Dave Rusk all stayed busy in our sidewalk tent. It was a close race as to the best seller. Possibly the pastrami sandwich won out because that has become a very popular item on our regular menu, but the pork belly with pico de gallo on a corn pancake, and the marinated chopped steak sandwich also did very well. Complements to the chef!

This was our 16th appearance at In The Street, and the menu always changes slightly. Pulled pork barbecue has always been a favorite. One year we served homemade sno-cones; another time homemade doughnuts. Another time it was bratwurst. Last year we tried fish tacos. As to beverages, you have to guess what the weather will be to decide between hot apple cider and cold sodas. This year we settled on bottled water.

Two other things for sure: first, no alcoholic beverages are allowed outside (in the early days of In The Street they were, and that proved to be not a good idea); second, there are plenty of alcoholic beverages inside, and they selll very well, particularly after the official event closes down at 5:00!

It’s an event everybody enjoys, but those on the working side of it all are pretty glad it only comes once a year!

On to 2015!

















Party “In The Street”


Once a year, downtown Frederick turns into a giant carnival.This Saturday, September 13th, a big stretch of North Market Street and adjacent cross streets will be closed to vehicle traffic, open to pedestrians only from 11AM to 5PM, and everyone will be in a party mood.. It’s a party that’s been going on every year since 1983.

More than 50,000 people are expected to be on hand to enjoy the festivities, which begin with the traditional “Market Street Mile” races for various age groups and categories of runners.

in the street

The street is lined by attractions of all sorts, including booths set up by restaurants, most of them just outside their downtown locations, selling  specialties of all kinds. Firestone’s Culinary Tavern will be one of them, for the sixteenth straight year. This year we have an especially tasty and interesting menu, created by Executive Chef Dave Rusk, as follows:

  • Beer-braised pork belly, with pico de gallo and queso blanco, on a corn pancake (blini).

Pork belly

The Pork Belly

  • House-made pastrami sandwich, on sourdough bread, with whole grain mustard, Swiss cheese, and Bermuda onions. A favorite in the restaurant
  • Steak sandwich, with provolone cheese, sautéed onions, hot cherry peppers, and horseradish aoli, on roti bread.


Steak sandwich

  • Picnic lunch, with white cheddar cheese, grapes,  and baguette slices.
  • Bottled water
  • Chips

If you’re close to Frederick, come on down! The weather is supposed to be OK, there will be plenty of food and music and other interesting attractions, and it will be a lot of fun!

Here’s to good food!


Dog Days of Summer



The first Saturday of every month in downtown Frederick we celebrate what is cleverly know as “First Saturday.” Each month  has a theme. For example, in June it was sidewalk art, and in February it will be ice sculptures.  Appropriately, on the first Saturday in September the theme is “Dog Days of Summer.” Dog owners are invited to bring their pets (on a leash) to parade around downtown and, if they wish, to have them in costume.

Even the store owners get in the spirit of it, as Kathy Wasley shows us here:

dog face

Dogs of all shapes and sizes bring their owners out to join in the fun….and it is fun, although from the standpoint of the shop owners the dogs don’t actually do much shopping. At Firestone’s Market on Market we will, however, have water for them outside, and little doggy treats inside. We’ll have samples of something for the owners, too!

water break

Water Break

For the dogs’ owners and friends, we will be sampling Catoctin Popcorn Company’s products, which include Kettle Corn, Caramel Kettle Corn, and both Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Kettle Corn. Hey, the dogs can’t have all the fun!

Of course, we will also have our usual wide selection of wine and beer, cheese, specialty foods and gifts. Come on down and join the fun!

little dog

Big dog

All sizes


And here’s something for humans to nibble on!

Enjoy First Saturday!





The small farm I live on in Middletown, Maryland came complete with a first-class chicken house. I’ve lived on the farm for about 35 years, and although I’ve had to do some repairs and improvements to the chicken house over the years, the structure itself has been hanging in there for many more years than that (it was not touched by a major fire that almost destroyed my house about 30 years ago).


Chicken house

Shortly after the fire I decided if had a chicken house I might as well have some chickens. I started with a scraggly little bunch a friend helped me collect, and as time passed I made a habit of ordering a dozen “starter pullets” every other year or so, generally keeping the population between six (as some would die off) and eighteen (as a new batch would arrive). Only one year did I have a disaster, as some murderous varmint (never identified) invaded one night and I found every one of the chickens dead the next morning. It’s hard to get emotional about chickens, but I couldn’t help but cry.

Generally speaking, I don’t get attached to the chickens. I don’t give them names or think of them as friends or pets. I do talk to them, though, when I wade into their pen in the morning to feed snd water them, and they do cackle back at me in their own chicken-like way. They will stand still for a little pat on the back.

The gang                                                                                                            The gang 

hen                                                                                               Surveying her domain


 The product


Taking care of chickens is not hard, but requires consistency. I am out there every morning to make sure they have plenty of feed and water. In the summertime I turn a fan on to move the air around and keep the indoor pen a little cooler. In the winter, a heat lamp helps keep them a bit warmer and, particularly helps keep their water from freezing. Wintertime is the hardest, because sometimes you must chip away the ice and, of course, put up with the miserable cold yourself.

The reward? During their peak years, each chicken will produce an average of one beautiful brown egg a day, leading to six or seven dozen a week from the flock.. As a bachelor living alone, that’s a lot more eggs than I can use! I can’t sell them, by regulation, even though they’re wonderful eggs, but I find where they can be used and give them away, and anytime I feel like an omelet I can have one. All this is not financially rewarding, of course, but I do get satisfaction out of it, and enjoy showing off these fine birds when kids visit.

Anybody need some eggs? Let me know.

Here’s to good food,