Thursday, March 8, 2012

Putting on His Socks in the Sunshine

Knowing it was going to be 72 degrees today, a friend had invited me to lunch 24 hours ago.

Wanting to do it outside, I chose Amuse for the patio overlooking the sculpture garden.

So imagine our surprise when we arrived only to find that the patio was closed due to high winds.

This is what mothers warn you about when they tell you life's not fair.

Although they had one unreserved table open, we opted for the bar where we had at least a clear view of the sculpture garden where many people were lunching or sitting and strolling.

One couple had adopted the poses of Manet's "Dejeuner sur L'Herbe," with the girl sitting and the guy reclining on their blanket as she fed him.

It looked very cozy, so much so that when they finally got up to leave after an hour plus, she put his socks on for him.

I thought it seemed very sweet, but my friend mentioned that there are better things a woman could do than put a man's socks on for him.

The Amuse menu is particularly appealing these days, with the irresistible (at least to me) skate wing now on it.

It was sauteed with miso eggplant, roasted red pepper salad and a spicy Thai pepper sauce, so a creative take on a too-rarely seen option from the sea.

The sauce had loads of heat and the delicate meat was the prefect vehicle for it.

We discussed classic cocktails with the bartender referencing her 1971 "Playboy Guide to Bartending," which led us to the topic of bar jokes.

My friend had several at the ready, including one that could be used as a litmus test for cultural literacy.

Rene Descartes walks into a bar and the bartender asks if he wants a drink. "I don't think so," Descartes says and poof! He disappears.

Okay, I laughed hysterically but he said the last group he told it to looked puzzled and asked for the punch line.

Don't get me started.

My friend is as devoted to dessert as I am, so we tried the enormous chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, creme anglaise, cashews, whipped cream and cashew brittle.

Because it's a beautiful, sunny March day and I can, I couldn't resist getting a visit from the green fairy and my friend watched with fascination as the ice water dripped down over the sugar cube into my glass of absinthe.

Chocolate and absinthe and smart bar jokes? Heavenly.

And from heaven we went to death by going down to the marble hall to see "The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy."

Late medieval sculpture masterpieces, the smaller-than-expected pieces so extravagantly carved in marble are a testament to the grieving process.

Figures wail, cry, wipe away tears, clutch rosary beads and generally do all the things Catholics do in following a funeral procession.

The deep blue of the walls in the exhibit evoke grief, much the way Death Cab for Cutie's lyrics to "Your Heart is an Empty Room" do.

Burn it down till the embers smoke on the ground
And start anew when your heart is an empty room
With walls of the deepest blue

So we've got indie corroboration; deep blue is the color of sad.

And walking outside afterwards, a far lighter blue was the color of the sky and the wind had settled down considerably.

So we didn't get our lunch al fresco.

I got bar jokes ("A grasshopper walks into a bar..."), skate wing, nut brittle and a Renaissance exhibit I've been eager to see.

You couldn't find a drop of deep blue in me.


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