Friday, December 4, 2009

CousCous>Six Burner>First Friday

It was a progressive sort of an evening, with one location change after another. The action began at CousCous to meet up with Theater Goddess and her theater friends. Foolish me, I forgot to wear my "blacks," like theater types seem to do. I joined a group of almost a dozen women and ten of them had on all black and I'm in a bright green shirt, burgundy lace tights and a jean skirt. Oops.

Even more shocking than my color faux pas, though, was entering CousCous now that it's smoke-free. It no longer felt like walking into an opium den with a haze over the bar. It certainly made eating more pleasurable, not that I wouldn't have enjoyed my mega-bowl of Harira Soup with its braised lamb, wild rice and veggies with or without smoke. There were some nice big chunks of lamb in it, along with plenty of shredded bits cooked to the ultimate tenderness. I shared with others, causing several people to regret not ordering it.

T.G. and I then adjourned to Six Burner for Chef Phillip Denny's recent award-winning Pig Trotter Croquettes with pardon peppers, roasted corn powder and pepper sauce. If this was the dish that came in second place at the March of Dimes competition, I probably need to taste whatever came in first. The crispy, flavorful outside covered a rich pork inside and the smokey pardons were the perfect accompaniment; we shared an order and next time I want the entire order to myself.

Dessert was eggnog creme brulee with caramelized Winesap apple compote and a mini gingerbread man. I think the holiday season officially kicked off for me when I first tasted that eggnog flavor. The compote screamed "apples are in season!" and the cookie, well, I've been upfront about my love of ginger snaps; the combo was wonderful.

Returning to J-Ward for First Fridays, I was surprised to discover that all the street lights were out. The Ward was a dark place except for front porch lights,holiday decoration lights and, natch, the usual massive police presence on Broad Street. The darkness added a cool ambiance to gallery walking and really made the downtown lights stand out against the night sky. Maybe the city used up all its wattage on the Grand Illumination earlier tonight and red-headed step-child J-Ward paid the price.

It didn't matter to me; I can negotiate my neighborhood with or without light. Not so for visitors, however. I passed a group of pretty young things clearly not from the Ward and heard one of them say, "Well, duh, we're on Marshall Street." No, honey, you're on Clay Street, I corrected her, just not in so many words. For them, the street lights may have helped.

Ghostprint's show, "Unseen Versailles" was a beautiful collection of photographs from behind the scenes at Versailles; I especially liked the washes of color painted on the walls behind the photos. Metro Space's "Too Big to Fail" consisted of woodcuts and prints by Cannondale Press. Most were available for only $20 a piece. As a huge fan of printmaking, I would have loved to have bought one. Gallery 5, as usual, provided both music and art, including VCU students' well-done "Project Winterfood."

I lingered at G5, listening to My Diamond Center on stage, but I'm seeing them Sunday night, so I decided to wind down my progressive evening. I very much enjoyed a night of constantly changing venues, always keeping things fresh. As a local barber shop's sign says (much to my daily delight), "Come on in and get fresh!" Didn't I just?

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