Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Come On, Get Happy

When I go out to meet a good friend and end up enjoying the company of a second friend as well, it makes me happy. When I expect the usual Tuesday bartender and my favorite weekend bartender is on duty instead, it gets even better. And when I can spend an evening watching old TV shows from the 60s at a theater, it is a treat of a night indeed.

The original game plan involved meeting a good friend at Six Burner for cheap wine, stellar food and lots of detail sharing. I'm still their devoted slave because of the featured red wine, Warwick Pinotage. It just took working through some Mars/Venus confusion to get it to me.

"So what's the featured red?" I asked Josh. "It's a white Pinot Noir," he said, pouring me a taste before being called away by a customer.

One of the female servers approached me in his absence. "Didn't you ask about a red?" she questioned with a smile. Admitting that I had, only to be poured a white, she told me what the featured red was and poured it for me. "I thought you said red," she laughed.

When Josh returned and saw my full glass, he asked if I'd requested a red. Told that I had, he admitted to hearing white instead of red come out of my mouth. Is it any wonder men and women struggle to communicate effectively?

Shortly thereafter my friend arrived and abdicated all power to me."Just give me what she's drinking," she said. "I love leaving everything up to you: the place, the wine, the food." Too bad she's not a guy.

She had dinner plans for venison chili, but we decided to take the edge off with the spicy tuna tartar with tuille crisps and the testa (headcheese) with grainy mustard, cornichons and toast.

When our plates showed up, I cracked wise. "Every time I see cornichon on a menu, it's gherkins that show up on my plate," I mock-complained. She laughed so hard she almost fell off her stool. "You have to put that in the blog," she insisted. "You can say I said it." I wouldn't embarrass her that way.

The headcheese, as Josh had informed us, was a terrine made from pig's head and was as savory a thing as I've put in my mouth in some time. Slathered with a coarse mustard and with a slice of cornichon (we weren't fooled again; that's just French for gherkin) on top, it was earthy, addicting and $4.

More delicately flavored but no less impressive was the spicy tuna tartare and avocado with the thinnest seed-studded tuille crisps as objects of conveyance. It was so good, in fact, that when we finished, my friend looked at me and asked, "Can we sop?" I think we can do whatever we want, I told her.

More Pinotage followed for the conversation about the developments in my personal life and it was just about then that another girlfriend unexpectedly showed up and joined us.

She ordered fried oysters and the fried sweetbreads in mole sauce and once again, we were eating up a storm. Something about discussing men seems to make us do this.

We discussed Style's "State of the Plate" and agreed that it's tough to argue with Amuse as the Restaurant of the Year. I've had so many excellent meals there that it almost seemed like a foregone, if deserved, conclusion to me anyway.

After both friends had left to go home to their men, I enjoyed some conversation with Chef Philip about RVA's scene, both eating and otherwise.

Josh had earlier mentioned that Chef had wanted to do a stuffed pig's head sliced and served in cross sections, but didn't think Richmond was ready for it. Josh and I laughed that a defibrillator would have to be put in to resuscitate certain guests once they found out what they were eating.

And now the chef was asking, "What will make Richmond more open to trying new foods?" Damned if I know, but it would be nice to see less of the same old, same old and more new and intriguing offerings, especially in small plate-sizes for trying.

"I'd love to do all small plates," Philip said. It's my preferred way of eating and I'd certainly be on board for more places going in that direction..

Pleasantly replete with food and conversation, I left for Richmond Triangle Players and their Tuesday Night at the Movies. Tonight's feature, "Judy! Judy! Judy," about the career of Judy Garland was being shown on the big screen.

There was scads of old footage (and free popcorn) but by far the most interesting was that of her old '60s TV show. All the big names of the day sang with her on that show, including Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Tony Bennett, Count Basie and Barbra Streisand.

Streisand and Garland doing of a medley of "Come On, Get Happy" and "Happy Days are Here Again" was one for the ages; those two voices overlapping in an almost competitive way was truly a thing of beauty, whether you're a fan of either woman or not.

Seeing a marquee in the film from 1954 that read "Judy Garland Dinner Show Only" seemed kind of tragic, but it didn't compare to watching her sing "The Man That Got Away" live at Carnegie Hall. Listening to her voice was like listening to a heart break.

I wonder if singing about men has the same effect as talking about them. If so, she must have spent all her time off-stage eating, drinking and gabbing with girlfriends.

It's been known to be quite effective in furthering the cause of love and lust. Or so I'm learning.


  1. Ha! You almost met another friend at that movie... I pointed it out to someone today, saying how interesting it sounded. Too bad I had other plans.

  2. That would have been great to randomly run into you like that! Maybe you can fit me in some other time.

  3. I was old enough to watch & remember the Judy Garland show. In glorious B X W you could tell the gal had spirit. Unfortunately even at my young age I could tell something was wrong. A great talent with a dynamic voice and air of showmanship..she always seemed edgy & not in a good way. No doubt she worked hard at her craft...god knows she'd been at it forever. What else could a child star do? She was such a pretty girl in OZ...but by the early 60's [when her show aired] she seemed tired, weary. At times appearing at wits' end. These observations from an eleven/twelve year old boy...me. I felt for her. Even I could tell she drank too much, was lost & looking for something. She wore her emotions all over. Millions seemed to love her but none that mattered. If she had found love.. it didn't seem to help. Maybe that's asking too much. She seemed both captivating and repulsive. Like others I wanted to like her but she could be so overbearing. A real turn-off. No one was surprised when she passed. Still it hurt. She was Judy. [cw]

  4. Wow, interesting memories. I didn't even know of the show but from what I saw last night, I know what you mean.

    There was definitely something desperate and tragic about her on TV.