Friday, March 12, 2010

Bouchon and Bargain Art

After playing recessionista at the thrift store this afternoon, it seemed only natural to follow up with a bargain of a dinner. And if there's one good thing about us mucking about in this recession for so long, it's the proliferation of prix fixe menus around town. Tonight my friend and I decided to check out what Bouchon had to offer.

They're strict about the rules, though; you have from 5:00 to 6:00 to get your order in to qualify for the three-course $20 meal. The choices were simple and pre-determined: soup or salad, meat or fish and two dessert choices (neither chocolate).

Tonight's soup was lentil and bacon and there's no way I'd pass up on either of those ingredients; the salad was mixed greens with tomato and cucumber in a house dressing. The soup was heavenly, rich and flavorful and ideal for sopping with the excellent crusty bread once the bacon and lentils were eaten.

For entrees we could choose either shepherd's pie or flounder in a lemon/butter sauce over sauteed spinach, which was what I got. The fish was perfectly cooked and both it and the spinach were sitting in a delicate pool of lemon butter.

Dessert choices were creme brulee or vanilla ice cream and while I ordered the creme brulee tonight, I've had their vanilla ice cream before and it's decadently worth it, even if it isn't chocolate.

The couple nearest us provided amusement during our meal; she arrived first and told her server she was waiting for her boyfriend. He may as well have been a stranger, though, because when they weren't actually eating, they were on their devices and almost no real interaction between them occurred the entire time they dined together. Not my definition of romance...or even a shared meal. What's the point really?

Afterwards I went to the opening at Eric Schindler Gallery of J. Pocklington's "Thrift Junk Scrap Dollar Store Sculpture." Are you seeing a recurring them throughout my day? The pieces were mixed media, a combination of found and cheaply bought items put together and then painted, some uniformly in one color and others painted in great detail. Two had already sold before I even arrived. which wasn't too surprising given their uniqueness.

I ran into my favorite Jackson Ward art collector (his is undoubtedly the best collection in the 'hood), who introduced me to Kirsten Gray, the owner and director of the gallery. We got to talking about buying local art and I told her that my biggest sacrifice these days is not being able to buy anything. She told me about her grandmother who had the same regret during the Great Depression.

Her solution was threefold according to Kirsten; she frequently visited galleries, she played rummy and she danced. And by the time the economy finally improved, she'd honed her artistic sense to the point that she knew what she liked and what she wanted to own.

Now I realize that that's what I've been doing this past year. Well, not the rummy and the dancing because I'm terrible at both, but the admiring and absorbing and imagining what I'd add to my collection.

So I'll continue to shop at thrift stores and put my money towards supporting local artists. And maybe when all is said and done, I could work toward having the second best local art collection in J-Ward.

I think Kirsten's grandma would approve.

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