The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 46 - August 6, 2008

BUSINESS


BBQ the best at Mr. Bones

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LIZA MORROW Mr. Bones offers several varieties of
homemade sauces for its BBQ, but don’t forget to order its
delicious mustard-based potato salad.

There are plenty of reasons to make your way to Mr. Bones BBQ and not only for its first-rate smoked and barbequed ribs. This cheerful quirky place has been serving locals since 1992.

Its ribs are smothered in one of the restaurant’s namesake homemade sauces. Either the Mr. Bones sauce, an unusually clear-flavored blending of tamarind with a classic barbeque sauce base or turbo charged and spiked with cayenne or the Chinese orange ginger sauce with a slight tropical tang.

But the reason I want you to make your way to Mr. Bones BBQ is for the mustard-sparked potato salad. The savory, flavorful little chunks of potato and eggs, dice of onions and celery deliver all the memories of grandma’s potato salad served at summer picnics and family get-togethers.

I don’t think I have ever met anyone who didn’t like potato salad. For me, it is one of the best parts of a summer meal. For years, I made it the same way: tossing cooked potatoes and chopped savory veggies in a rich mayonnaise made with egg yolks and olive oil. Now that raw eggs are regarded as too dangerous to eat, I’ve had to look for other ideas and mustard does the trick.

The truth is I adore the lively and lovely mustard. I believe it belongs right up there with its red sibling, ketchup. Ketchup is a more popular sandwich condiment in a run-of-the-mill sort of way. Undeniably it holds a special place with children, especially with all the new-fangled color marketing. Mustard deserves a lot of credit. It was a mustard jar, the oh-so-civilized stalwart companion that was chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce during the 90s.

Mustard can remain simple and mellow as the afternoon sun or lend itself to gorgeous nuances, infinitely attractive, chunky and spicy with grand aromas. It is one of the least expensive spices and it is low in calories.

Mustard does have its share of groupies or those who are "condimentally correct". National Mustard Day, the first Saturday in August, is celebrated with verve at the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. This museum has the world's largest collection of mustards (4,047, at last count) from all over the world.

Mustard is in the crucifer family, which includes turnips, radishes, horseradish and watercress. There are many varieties and grades of, but there are only two basic types. The most common yellow seed (Brassica hirta) is very mellow with little heat. It is not the mustard seed, however, but the added turmeric that makes it that loveable squeeze-bottle yellow. Oriental and brown seed (Brassica juncea) has a zestier flavor. This is the seed responsible for that delightful "burn-rising-in-your-nostrils, sinus-clearing, eyes-tearing and steam-coming-out-of-your-ears" sensation. A little dab of mustard also gives a hearty depth and binding to sauces and helps to emulsify the oils in mayonnaise and vinaigrettes. However, heat diminishes the flavor and it is generally best to add mustard toward the end of a recipe to retain that well-camouflaged punch.

Potato salad? What could be easier to make in the summer or be more universally appealing than potato salad? Boiled potatoes tossed in a mustardy mayonnaise -- who knows why it tastes so good and why it is as integral a part of a summer meal of barbeque as a cold drink? The best potatoes are waxy pink or white "new" potatoes. Boil with care so they are not overcooked. You can make this salad with small whole ones quartered or sliced potatoes. Wait until the potatoes cool before folding in the dressing.

Mr. Bones Potato Salad

Ingredients:
 8 pounds potatoes
 1 minced onion
 1 minced medium bell pepper
 4 stalks celery, diced
 6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
 1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. pepper
 4 c. real mayonnaise
 1/3 c. mustard
 Salt and pepper

Method:
Cook the potatoes in their skins, cool and then peel and dice into large chunks. Add the onion and the rest of the ingredients including mayonnaise blended with mustard. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste

 

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Residential real estate not ready to rebound

Back at the end of 2005 and early 2006 ,I sounded the alarm over the speculative behavior being exhibited in residential real estate, warning that it would not go on much longer. I was right, as it turned out, but I did not foresee the peripheral issues related to real estate speculation that are now causing much bigger problems.

It would take three or four of my biweekly columns to cover the full story. To briefly summarize:

Speculative behavior + easy money loaned from banks = residential real estate bubble. Add in loans packaged, securitized and sold to large institutional investors by major brokerage firms + use of leverage to buy more loan packages than they could really afford = contagion when it all falls apart.

Real estate bubble + pin prick from forced sales and foreclosures by those who couldn’t flip properties in a few months for a huge profit = a long slide down the worst real estate price declines since the Great Depression. Contagion effects include selling pressure in the stock market and banks now afraid to lend due to worries about how bad the economic slowdown might be, resulting in low consumer confidence.

So now the bubble has move over to commodities, which I believe will also receive the inevitable bursting pretty soon, but that leads me back to the title of this article. I don’t believe the price declines are over for real estate, but we are closer to the end of the process than the beginning and that is good news. Good news that is for investors who buy the securitized form of real estate through ownership of real estate investment trusts, known as REITs. Most of these investment vehicles have undergone price declines of about 30 percent or more from peaks set at the beginning of 2007, but are recently starting to recover.

REITs are effectively a real estate holding company which owns physical properties. Most specialize in a particular type of real estate, ranging from office buildings and industrial parks, to apartment complexes and shopping malls. Also available are REITs which own hospitals or assisted living facilities.

The neat thing about REITs is that the average investor can get a lot of diversification of property type and geographic location very quickly. While single family homes are likely to languish in price for perhaps several more years, the demographics for apartment REITs are looking very good, and we are optimistic about many forms of commercial property as well

Many of you reading this (like me) are members of the baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964). Our generation is about 85 million strong and has changed consumption patterns as we moved through the various economic phases of our life. Well, spending money isn’t the only thing we’re good at because we created the echo boom generation, now over 100 million strong. The bulk of the echo-boomers are in their 20s, finishing college and getting ready to move out on their own, which usually means renting an apartment for a few years.

I don’t recommend that you run out and put your entire nest egg into REITs, which own apartments, but they would be a good piece of a diversified real estate portfolio. What about the current economic slowdown? I believe that outside of the aforementioned greedy financial firms, corporate America is pretty healthy, flush with cash and not likely to begin abandoning its office buildings.

Sure, there will be some more pain before this is over, but remember that as a tradable, equity type security; REITs tend to discount the news of the day well in advance. I think REITs are not a bad place to start establishing positions again over the remainder of 2008. I suggest a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund, which can give you ownership across a broad spectrum of properties in just one purchase. Current dividend yields are over 4 percent and there is the potential for long-term appreciation in addition to the income.

The best part? Few are talking about buying these vehicles. When everyone wanted to own them (back in 2006), it was, of course a mistake. Now that they are ignored, they are a much better buy for the patient investor.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.


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