Friday, September 23, 2011

I Want a Man Like Herb

Did you hear about the ballerina who wasn't very good?
She was only a one and a half, one and a half.

That, my friends, is the kind of tutu joke the old guy behind me tells when I go to a lecture called "Ballet Russes: From Dress to Dance" at the VMFA.

On the plus side, I started at Amuse with a glass of Routas Rose listening to the story of the bartender's friend whose husband decided to go body surfing in a hurricane and broke his neck a couple of weeks ago.

Seemed like a bad call, so I was having a hard time feeling sympathy for the guy but apparently so is his wife. At least he's not dead, she said.

At the lecture I ran into two people I knew when I expected to see no one familiar.

Wait, I know people who want to hear about dead dancers and rotting costumes? Who knew?

But at Stop #2, the Visual Arts Center, I was friendless. Not that it mattered since I was there for a film screening.

They were showing "Herb and Dorothy," a documentary (like the kind I won't be able to go to the Westhampton to see much longer, here) about art collectors.

I loved the story of an NYC couple who lived on her income as a librarian  in a one-bedroom apartment so they could use all of his income as a postal worker to buy art.

Starting in the 60s, they amassed a collection of over 4800 pieces of contemporary art.

They became friends with the artists from whom they bought work, many of whom went on to great success and acclaim.

Their entire life was going to galleries and art shows and finding stuff they loved.

And they were adorable together, still holding hands and discussing every purchase together.

Herb said he originally asked Dorothy out because she looked intelligent ("Not because I was cute?" she teased him).

Eventually they donated 1,000 works to the National Gallery of Art and the rest are being given out in batches of fifty to one museum in all fifty states.

That's right; the VMFA has five years to display their fifty pieces from the Vogel collection.

I get warm and fuzzy just knowing that people like Herb and Dorothy exist.

But after a lecture and a documentary, I put away my nerd hat for a little food and drink.

Now that Bobby Kruger has moved his mixology magic to Fanhouse and the scandalously illegal downstairs bar has been removed (please note tongue in cheek), my curiosity was getting the best of me.

I couldn't have picked  a better evening to hang out.

The downstairs has a liquor station but no bar. High community tables fill that space and I had company come and go from my end of it all evening.

My libation of choice was a Prosecco with pepper and plum syrup, the spice of the pepper on the front balanced nicely by the rich plumminess on the finish.

The expanded menu made choosing tough.

My crab bisque was delightfully light instead of tasting like a bowl of cream and the grilled tiger shrimp gave it a nice char flavor.

I'm a sucker for a fish taco and this one benefited from the freshest of greens on it.

The beef tender (a cut I hadn't even heard of) over a Himalayan salt block with two dipping sauces was out of this world.

I couldn't decide if the best part was how the very rare meat picked up the essence of salt or what an impressive presentation it made to be served the beef on this large amber chunk of salt.

The music was spot on, just as it always was when Bobby was at Mint. Anyplace I can hear the Helio Sequence and Bon Iver is okay in my book.

My evening would have been terrific based solely on what went into my mouth, but I was unexpectedly treated to all kinds of friends, both staff and customers.

A girlfriend I haven't seen in six months. A sous chef who throws the best parties. The beer rep I run into all over town (and swears she'll make a beer drinker out of me yet). One of my very favorite food geeks.

Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better array of company, one after the other all night long.

It was like an impromptu cocktail party with great guests, especially after my geekfest earlier.

Just what I needed until I find my very own Herb.

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