Friday, August 17, 2012

We Just Had a Good Time* (*Julia Child)

By the time I'd finished driving back from the river and doing mad edits, it was suddenly time to go out.

Did I have plans? No.

How fortunate that when I called a friend and asked where to report, he responded "Amour."

I'd have been on time except that as I was approaching Amour, I ran into a J-Ward neighbor.

She was instantly recognizable and she claimed I was the same.

She'd been taking one for the team (that is, drinking gin and tonics) at Can Can as part of her job and was now finally off.

We bonded on Cary Street over layoffs, Sweet Fern and staying up late.

Naturally, I was late for my couple date at Amour.

In a pleasant twist, that meant that my Kir Royale was already in place when I arrived.

My friends immediately shared their vacation pics from Las Vegas, so I got to see the Eiffel Tower, untold fountains and views of tall buildings.

It sounded like they had a blast in the land of Celine Dion and 107 degrees.

Yes, the nights were late (they were operating on east coast time) and the food magnificent (I saw the menu from Bouchon), but mostly they raved about the sunsets and the views.

I was pleasantly surprised when Holmes gifted me with a CD, "Not Quite Beatles," a compilation he'd made of favorite songs derived from the masters.

It's true; I'm the type who can be won over by Bourgeois Tagg and Big Star.

Moving on to Provence rose, we ignored the rollicking parties in the front of the restaurant and ordered food.

I stayed honest with a large bistro salad, grilled mushroom caps with Comte and fresh chives while vichyssoise, frog legs and escargots showed up in front of my dates.

And without any fanfare, a fourth joined our group.

With a stylish hat, a quick wit and all kinds of life experience to share, he was a welcome addition to our trio.

Whether discussing peas in London, Chris Squire of Yes or compressed mp3 files, he was a worthy addition to our group.

We got to a point with wine where my friend Holmes mused, "Where should we go, red or white? How about blue?"

Oh, my. Don't give me an opening, because I'll take it.

When Holmes mentioned blue, I immediately suggested Jannison et Fils Bleu, a lovely champagne with a nose of flowers and a soft, round finish, that I knew Amour carried.

How could I not recommend a Frenchman who works on two continents, making bubbles both with Virginia and French grapes?

We included our new friend in our bleu tasting and blathered on about grand pianos, life in the Grenadines (him) and Hanover Avenue.

Dessert arrived and in addition to the sea salt chocolate creme bruelee and chocolate gelato, we ventured into hallowed ground.

Since we're a mere day past Julia Child's birthday, how could I not savor her classic cherry clafouti?

The dish, resembling a sweet, crustless quiche with a custard center and those lovely cherries, was the perfect nod to Julia on her 100th.

And who wouldn't want to celebrate Julia this week?

While our new best friend thoroughly explained steel drum making and playing, we shared desserts and Bleu.

Appropriately, the music was Django Reinhardt-inspired or even the great one himself, making for a superb soundtrack to our eating and drinking.

Props must go to our unexpected fourth who not only hung in until the end, but jumped in every art and music conversation with enough pertinent information to be a true asset to the group.

Holmes pontificated about the outsize girth of his own head and our fourth countered with details about Ignatius Hats, pleasing one of the native Richmonders no end.

Personally, I need neither hats nor a Petersburg hat shop, but the discussion was so lively and compelling that I felt interested despite no actual relevance to my little corner of the universe.

And considering I'd begun the evening with no real plans, having wound up with three clever people with whom I could eat, drink and be merry was a hugely unexpected bonus.

In fact, it may have been the perfect tribute to Julia.

As it is, I live by her words.

Life itself is the proper binge.

Best of all, with no desire to purge afterwards.

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