Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hoagies and Highlights

Ever since I'd learned about the lobster hoagie being served at Bonvenu's brunch, I've been determined to have it. I'd hoped to find a friend free to join me for brunch, but no such luck.

Two weeks in, I just went solo and now I can say that there was a good reason I was craving it without ever having tasted it.

Sliding into my seat at the bar, I was welcomed back (they're so good about that) and asked if I was in for a cocktail. "I'm here for that lobster hoagie," I explained, without even looking at the menu. She laughed and asked me which side I wanted with it.

I was barely a few pages into my Sunday Post when the object of my desire arrived. The construction of lobster meat, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and Bermuda onion with citrus vinaigrette in a very large flour tortilla was enormous.

My first questions was whether or not it was big enough. "I see a to-go box in your future," she said chuckling. Clearly she didn't know my appetite. I'd chosen the red-skin potato and bleu cheese potato salad to accompany my hoagie and, good as it was, it was the casualty on my plate.

Chunks of claw meat and body meat were dominant in the wrap, which was too big to get my mouth around. The crunch of the onions was a lovely contrast to the rich creaminess of the rest of the mixture. I was in the throes of lobster love.

I got about two thirds of the way through it and had no choice but to begin dissection. I opened up the wrap and started eating just the contents, afraid I would be too full otherwise to finish. I think I had maybe three bites of that excellent potato salad before calling quits on it, too.

Brunch was a prelude to a highlights tour at the VMFA. I was honestly curious to see what would be considered the highlights of such an amazing and extensive collection now and said so when our guide asked us why we'd come.

"It's completely up to me what I show you," she said. "So I'm going to highlight some of my favorites." I loved that concept; any given docent would give a different tour because there were no prescribed stops.

Our group was small - two couples and me- but a local artist, colorful and vocal, joined us shortly thereafter and added a lot to the commentary. I must have been a little vocal myself because he eventually came over and asked, "Are you an artist?" I'm an art appreciator, I told him..

We began in the 21st century galleries, a fitting place to consider the state of art today. Moving from gallery to gallery, she would pause and talk about various works or, in some cases, just point out galleries and recommend them (Faberge, for instance).

Pointing upstairs, she said that the Impressionist galleries were up there, but we weren't going to visit them. "Cause they're not a highlight," the artistic latecomer joked.

Clearly he'd visited the museum a lot over the years because he remembered former wall colors, which galleries were where in the 70s and other obscure miscellaneous information (like the pool).

I, on the other hand, was able to inform one of the couples, both long-time Richmonders and museum-goers, that the Boulevard entrance is now open. Neither had any idea that it now is, presuming that the 70s closure of that grand entrance was still fact. They were almost as excited about it as I am and I have no intention of ever using any other entrance.

When the tour ended, our little group bade each other good-bye by name and our docent said, "There goes Karen to leave by the Boulevard entrance!" They all looked at me enviously as they headed to their exits.

Hey, it's not my entrance. Everybody should experience the museum they way it was originally intended to be entered.

Listen to me, sounding all old-school about how things used to be. But do give the front door a try; it's a fitting way to enter the grandeur of the new VMFA.

In fact, it's a highlight.

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