Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beyond Epic Fail

What to do when the plan goes awry?

I'd enlisted a friend to join me at Hardywood for the food truck court, which was a fine idea until we actually got near Hardywood.

It was at that point that we saw them - endless running types, all with numbers plastered across their chests - clogging the sidewalks, taking over the intersections and making it perfectly clear that we were out of the loop.

Since neither of us are runners and neither of us keeps up with events at a brewery, we had no idea that trying to eat at the food truck court was going to be an impossibility on a night when a bazillion runners, famished after running, would be arriving for sustenance.

We drove right past the teeming masses, trying to figure out how best to punt.

Secco seemed like a fine alternative.

Walking in, the personable Matt looked at us looking to find bar stools and did the logical thing.

He reminded us it was restaurant week.

It wasn't bad enough we'd known nothing about the Hardywood race and now we'd completely forgotten about the worst week of the year to eat out.

But the folks at Secco were oh-so gracious, insisting we stay and have a glass even if we didn't want the restaurant week menu.

Feeling like idiots for the second time in 20 minutes, we took them up on their offer, smacking our foreheads and wondering how one earth we'd forgotten this was going on.

The last thing we'd wanted to do was add to the mayhem.

Fortunately, we weren't the only people at the bar for drinks and snacks, so we felt grateful to have finally settled in somewhere.

My first question at Secco is always about what's new and tonight's answer was 2011 Valderina Chiaro  di Luna Rosata, promised to us as "Campari-like" and, indeed, the Nebbiolo Rose had a dry, almost bitter-like finish that pleased us both.

Two glasses please.

We noshed on sea-salted almonds and fried chick peas while chatting with the two women to our right.

One raised grass-fed beef and raved about bacon.

The other had a boyfriend who was working, giving her the chance to head out for Restaurant Week with a girlfriend.

It was all very cozy.

Before long, we were talking NASCAR weekend and the hordes who have descended for the next few days.

Count on Secco to be eclectic enough to offer race talk at a wine bar.

Soon we got more company, this time a tall businesswoman from Nashville, in town for the evening.

She took to us like a tick to a hound in summertime and soon we were dishing about all kinds of female quandaries like men and sleep and intellectual stimulation.

Being a visitor with plans to return to Richmond several more times, she asked for a list of good bars and restaurants, leading to an explanation that they were one and the same in the Commonwealth.

Statewide sigh.

We all got along so famously that I regretted having to leave to go to a listening party at Balliceaux.

I suggested she meet me there and gave her the information to do so before walking out with my girlfriend.

Talking about how feminine our new friend had been, what with her jewelry, painted fingernails and perfect makeup, I admitted that I only wished I was that girly.

"Well, you do dress feminine," my friend acknowledged slowly. "But you're definitely not the feminine type."

I didn't know whether to be complimented or insulted, eventually opting for satisfied with her honesty.

After dropping her off so she could get her beauty sleep ( 6 a.m. comes mighty early), I was off to Balliceaux for Salon de Lune, a listening and cocktail party.

My friend Stephen, a musician, had written a song, "Fire and Ice" that had been recorded by local Jessi Coble.

What's impresses me about Stephen is that for 2013, he challenged himself to release a song every few weeks and this was his latest, albeit sung by someone else.

To tie in with the premiere of the song was the premiere of a fire and ice cocktail, which had no relevance for me since I'm not a cocktail drinker.

I didn't know a lot of the crowd, but enough to find people worth talking to while I munched on my french fries.

The scientist was there, eager for finals to be over and his summer to begin.

My long-ago coworker and his main squeeze were there, the former with work gossip and the latter with compliments about my haircut.

Of course Stephen was there and as the person who introduced him to Balliceaux, I felt a little responsible for tonight's location.

I met a local music blogger, grilling him about what shows he'd been to lately.

Turns out he's more of an at-home listener than a live show kind of a blogger, but, hey, I don't judge (much).

Once the crowd had time to mingle and down fire and ice cocktails, the song was premiered, pulsing through the back room while some people got its dance imperative and others chatted on.

I do think that he's got pop running through his veins, so I can totally understand why someone would want to record one of his songs.

Since I'd only heard Stephen doing his own songs up 'till now, it was interesting to hear his words interpreted by someone else, especially a woman.

Of course, she was more feminine than me, too, but then aren't they all?

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