Author Archives: bcarter3

2019 Cookery Project — Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Every now and then, a fella just wants some good ole comfort food, and nothing says “Comfort” like a good ole Pot Roast, made in a good ole crock pot.  (I’m trying for folksy here. Just go with it.)

The recipe comes from Classy Cooking, and it differs from the last few recipes I’ve tried in that it’s not a rethinking of a classic dish, or a 21st-century version of an old favourite. It’s just really good pot roast, composed of the traditional beef roast, yellow onions, carrots, and Yukon gold potatoes. It’s seasoned with minced garlic cloves, Worcestershire sauce, minced fresh thyme, minced fresh rosemary, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. The whole thing goes into a crock pot, gets doused with beef broth* and red wine,** and cooked on low heat for eight or nine hours.

Everyone knows that soups and stews taste better the second day. Since I slow cooked this overnight, it was technically the second day before I had my first taste of it, which was part of the reason it tasted so good.


★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

* When I was young and poor, I thought you could get away with substituting beef bouillon cubes for beef broth. You can’t.

** I’d also advise against substituting grape juice for the red wine.


Beach Blanket Babylon Closing in San Francisco After a 45-Year Run

Those hats! Those huge, wonderful, silly hats, each larger than the last.

Beach Blanket Babylon, the world’s longest-running musical review, is as much a part of the San Francisco mythos as cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and beautifully painted Victorian houses. But after 45 years and 17,216 performances, the show will close with 2019’s New Year’s Eve finale.

The ever-evolving show uses modified lyrics from popular songs to poke mildly racy fun at celebrities and politicians, many of whom, like Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the picture below, turn up in the audience sooner or later. (Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had already seen an abbreviated performance of the review in 1983.)

The show could probably have run forever, since it had become a sure-fire way for San Franciscans to entertain out-of-town visitors.

Every performance ended with the audience joining the cast in singing a rousing and joyous rendition of “San Francisco”—the real, Jeanette MacDonald “San Francisco”, from the 1936 movie of the same name.

New Year’s Eve at Beach Blanket Babylon

The Beach Blanket Babylon website has an excellent collection of pictures from the show, including one gallery dedicated exclusively to those giant hats. It also includes videos of selections from the show’s New Year’s Eve performances. Here’s the one from 2018:

(All photos found on the Web.)

Jared Leto Is 47 Years Old

He posted this picture to his Instagram account last week.

And somewhere in a locked room, a portrait of Jordan Catalano has aged terribly.

My So-Called Life
It Gets My Vote as the Best Pre-Golden Age Television Drama Series

My So-Called Life was the Skam of its day. It ran for one 19-episode season way back in 1994-1995, and it was one of the first television shows to develop a passionate online following in those early years of the Internet. Claire Danes starred as Angela Chase and Jared Leto played Jordan Catalano.

The Game‘s Afoot, and It’s Almost Too Much of a Great Thing

In case you haven’t heard, Game of Thrones returned to HBO last night with another awe-inducing episode, after an absence of almost two years. The first of the six episodes that make up the final season moved most of the human (and other) chess pieces to their correct places on the board.

Here’s the new Game of Thrones opener, which has already been analysed to death by easy-to-find online fanboys:

So once again, with Killing Eve at 8 PM followed by Game of Thrones an hour later, Sunday in the US has become Must See TV night, as it was during the reigns of Deadwood and Mad Men and Breaking Bad and The Wire and The Sopranos.*

But it’s too much.

Killing Eve, the best new show of 2018, returned for a second season just as quirky and delightful as it was last year. Game of Thrones, the most popular television series in the world, is simply unmissable. The problem is that the two great shows are painfully incompatible. In theme, tone, writing, acting styles, and general sensibility, they share nothing.

I watched them both in their regular time slots last night, and realized almost at once that it was a mistake. You can’t make the jump from contemporary London and Paris to quasi-Tudor Britain-with-Dragons without dislocating something vital. Difficult though it is, from now on I’ll watch one of them when it airs, and the other a day or two later.

Now I only have to decide which to watch first.

*Loved Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. Thought The Wire and The Sopranos were both overrated.

Lunch at Le Café Descartes at the French Embassy

I’ve roosted in Washington, DC, for most of my life now, and I’m still making wonderful new discoveries about the possibilities for living well in the city. Until a few weeks ago, I was unaware that I could apply for entry to Le Café Descartes at the French embassy. All it took was an email request and a selfie. Last Thursday, I got my response:

Bonjour !
Your Frequent Diner Membership badge will be available in Le Café Descartes Coffee Bar, which is located in Building C of the French Embassy.

Building B

Building C, or maybe B

The embassy isn’t a single building, it’s a complex. Le Café Descartes is in Building C, or maybe B,* and serves lunch to embassy staff and visitors. The café consists of a small outdoor dining area, a coffee bar, a lounge, and a big open room that could probably hold a couple hundred people. To be clear, this is not white-tablecloth haute cuisine, it’s an informal, cafeteria-style lunchroom.

But it’s a lunchroom where tomorrow’s mains will be Escalope de Poulet Viennoise and Haddock Beurre Blanc, followed by Filet de Bronzino and Saucisse de Toulouse on Tuesday. We’re a long way from tater tots and cube steak.

Best of all, one of the choices for Friday was Confit de Canard, my long-time favourite French treat, and a perfect selection for my first Le Café Descartes meal. So late Friday morning, I grabbed my passport for identification, put on my red souvenir cap from the Château de Chenonceau, and headed for the embassy.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

And there it is. Confit de Canard with Brussels sprouts and endive. The duck leg was on the small size, but I was in heaven. (I knew it was heaven because everyone around me was speaking French, and that’s what they do there. That, and eat French food.)

Blueberry Tart

Blueberry Tart

And a blueberry tart for dessert. Perfect.

I have a feeling I’ll be lunching here a lot.

April Lunches at Le Café Descartes

*The email said it was Building C, but the guard at the security gate said it was Building B.

Meltdown! A “Leave Britney Alone” for the 2010s

Meet social media “influencer” Jessy Taylor, who has a problem. Following complaints about Taylor’s racist postings, Instagram temporarily deleted her account. So she did what any sane and responsible media influencer would do, and called 911.

When the police failed to arrest Instagram or something, she published the following video on YouTube.

Warning: NSFW. Language, incredibly foul language, mental illness, gross stupidity, general obnoxiousness, and TMI. Oh, and did I mention language?

Some people have speculated that it’s all an attention-seeking act, but she doesn’t seem bright enough to open a can of cat food without help, let alone come up with that particular kind of scam. Nonetheless, the joke is ultimately on us, because the video has already been viewed more than a million times, probably earning her a significant amount of YouTube money.

But real or fake, this is the best YouTube meltdown since Chris Crocker’s unforgettable “Leave Britney Alone” performance back in September, 2007.

Warning: NSFW. Same reasons as above.