Saturday, February 19, 2011

Following the Muse

Not to belabor the point, but I saw 176 Picassos tonight for the second time in, oh, 33 hours. According to one of my accompanying friends, it'll take three visits to fully wrap one's head around so much Picasso.

So tonight was number two for me. Afterwards, with no expectations whatsoever, my couple date and I headed upstairs to Amuse. Just in case.

I'd checked and they didn't have a thing available tonight, but as long as we were there, the sensible one among us suggested trying.

Would you believe we got three low-slung chairs and a cocktail table within five minutes? My friends jumped on the list of Amuse's Cubist cocktails (one friend got the Guernicava; get it?)while I ogled the absinthe drip on the bar.

You read correctly. A glass vessel with iced water inside had four spouts from which water could be dripped over a sugar cube resting on a slotted spoon into a glass of absinthe underneath. One look at that thing and I knew I had to have one.

But not without some food in my stomach first. My couple date ordered cocktails while I got a glass of Rose. For eating purposes, we chose sauteed duck livers (with apricots, brandy and crostini), grilled halloumi (with beignets and preserved lemon jam) and mussels with Sausagecraft Della Nonna (in garlic butter with grilled bread).

We had so much food that our server had to bring us an additional cocktail table to accommodate it all. The mussels and sausage were superb, easily our favorite of the three. And who doesn't enjoy a good duck liver (I know, I know, the people who are afraid of sardines and sweetbreads)?

Not surprisingly, Amuse was mobbed with people standing even at the end of the bar. From our comfy chairs, we could see the long line of people waiting, tickets in hand, for Picasso. As a security guard had told me earlier, "It's going to be crazy for the next three months."

My absinthe arrived with its distinctive smell and artistic references to the absinthe bars of 19th century Paris. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate having just seen the Picasso show again than with the green fairy.

After much deliberation, dessert was sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and an apple and cinnamon Napoleon, the former being the standout, although both were delectable.

All of a sudden, we looked up and the restaurant was all but empty and the one remaining table contained the VMFA's director and several curators, who probably weren't likely to be asked to leave. Unlike us.

It was so late that my favored Boulevard entrance had been locked and I was forced to use the new entrance. It was the only jarring note of an otherwise delightful evening (I am wholeheartedly committed to that Boulevard door now).

My dates headed home to catch up on sleep while I headed to Balliceaux to hear Miramar play boleros; you don't need a date to enjoy romantic music.

A Miramar crowd is very different from the crowds at most of the shows I go to there because of its enthusiastic fan base. Nonetheless, I ran into lots of people I know, most notably the handsome Colombian scientist I'd met there last month.

He made a point of telling me that my blog is now on his Favorites; I feel fairly certain that this is a 21st-century come-on line, but I'm not entirely sure, so I took it as a compliment.

Miramar's slow-tempo romantic music is always a pleasure to hear despite not understanding Spanish. Introducing a song, lead singer Reinaldo said, "We're trying to go from sad romance to angry romance." That's the natural progression of romance anyway, isn't it?

As the band was winding down and I was walking out to leave, I noticed a guy sitting in a chair near the front of the restaurant. "Kind of far from the music, aren't you?" I teased, about to step outside.

Next thing I knew we were having a protracted discussion at the front bar of dating young (and how young is too young?), dating foodies (I'm fine with dating just eaters) and settling instead of moving on. The bartender suddenly announced that everyone had three minutes to finish all drinks.

We agreed that far more conversation is to be had. Forget about not talking to strangers. The lesson here: never count an evening over until surrounded by my own four walls.

Oh, yes. And never pass up a good absinthe drip. You never know where the green fairy will take you.

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