Saturday, October 23, 2010

From the Fan to the Bottom to the Slip Version 2.0

What if there was a party and nobody but women came? What if nobody but women were invited? That would be a friend's annual Thesmophoria extravaganza, celebrating the ancient Greek festival for women only (men were supposed to be working, although frequently they came to ogle).

I'm always flattered to be asked since she gathers such an interesting group together for the evening. Julia from River City Cellars brings three great wines (I was unashamedly back to her favorite breakfast bubbles, the Tete a Claques I'd been drinking just two nights before) and all the best cheeses and the women bring the rest of the food (which always means an obscene amount of desserts).

The first thing I overheard when I walked in late to the already in-progress party was, " So do you take Nyquil?" It doesn't have the same ring as other self-medicating questions I have heard at parties.

But that was just one of many conversations I joined and then exited as I made my way through the house to meet and greet all these women.

I finally had to say my goodbyes since I'd promised to pick up a friend for an evening of light. We parked in the Bottom and began at Julep, which is always fun when Bobby's mixing.

I knew he'd been busy lately making new concoctions and listening to David Bowie, and was curious about the results. If Bowie's not old-school inspirational, I don't know who is (actually I do: Bryan Ferry).

It wasn't long before he got out his torch and presented each of us with a big roasted coconut marshmallow he'd made. I'm a coconut fan anyway, but Bobby had used coconut water instead of plain water in his recipe.

The result was scrumptious, the most sublime over-sized marshmallow I've ever put into my mouth. He created it to sit atop the Jack Skellington, but I had it as a side for my (surprise!) Corozon tequila.

Friend enjoyed a couple of cocktails (including two off Bobby's list) before we decided that it was time to join the throngs and start exploring InLight. The first piece that really grabbed me was the covered wagon with its projections of new frontier travel. Sitting in the middle of Cary Street, it was like a ghost from another era.

Sacer-totem, made of plasric nativity scene figures stacked up totem pole-like brought a smile to many viewers' faces. The Virgin Mary perched on top of assorted Wise Men made for a particularly arresting lighted visual.

All of Cary Street was transformed simply by having the street lights off. It gave the area a much different vibe (which I liked) and allowed people to drop into the shadows when they wanted to. Kind of cool.

At Bouchon, we were greeted by a madhouse. The last time I saw the place that crazy was the Bastille Day party. But the kissing bartender and chef promised us a table or bar stools and we only had to stand to sip our drinks for a bit.

The bar menu of which I'm so fond had some new listings for the evening, so we tried the onion tart, the pork and beans (so popular it had been changed from a full serving to a half) and the mushroom soup.

Friend had been unsure what to expect out of the standard-sounding pork and beans, so the sausage and white bean combo was a pleasant surprise to him. I knew Francis would do it up right, so I wasn't the least bit surprised.

The guy on the other side of me joined in our conversation about Caddyshack and music after a while and I didn't hold it against him that he liked Vampire Weekend, although I did share my opinion of the copycat little prepsters (even so, it couldn't have been too off-putting because when he got up to leave later, apropos of nothing, he said, "Come on, leave with me").

It was while he was sampling around the bar offerings (Port, pear-infused brandy, red wine) that bartender Olivier asked me if I liked apple pie and set a glass down in front of me. Very apple-like and I didn't even bother to ask what it might be. Next time.

The conversation was varied and, at times downright revealing, and before I knew it we were nearing the bewitching hour when InLight would go dark. Before that happened, Olivier grabbed me and led me downstairs and out the back way to see all the installations on the block behind Bouchon. Chef Francis joined me for the art.

There were two pop-up galleries back there, so a lot to see. Probably my favorite was Unwilling Nervous Courage, consisting of both a male nude and a reclining female nude, both magnificently carved in wood with video projections across them. We were both fascinated by the implications.

Another piece that fed the viewer's ego used a camera in one little room to project our image onto another wall. "If we stand here, the camera records whatever we do." Risky business for some.

Francis and I were both impressed by Horizon in the Fold; the columns of light behind the curtain gave a blowing, billowing effect that mirrored a balmy day with the window open, except with light as the moving force. For me, it was like seeing a sunset through the curtain of a beach cottage window, all gentle movement and subtle colors.

By the time I'd finished seeing everything I could, artists and friends had began pulling up extension cords and untaping power strips, so I headed back upstairs. We enjoyed more conversation as the bar finally began to thin out and eventually close down.

Walking back to the Bottom to retrieve my car, a passing girl said to me, "I love your purple tights!" And they don't compare to the new burgundy lace ones. Still, there is nothing quite like a random compliment at 1:45 a.m.

Actually, there's nothing like random compliment anytime. It won't give me a big head, I promise.


  1. I need to get Antonia going on that roasted coconut marshmallow thing.

  2. Do you ever! Awesome beyond belief if you're a coconut lover.

  3. I saw the Horizon in the Field, but missed the other two. What an awesome event!

  4. There was just so much to see!