Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lemon Curd and Pet Cemeteries

I put the reins in a friend's hands and reaped the benefits.

With no real plan until 10:30, I forced my company on a friend who was getting a late start on her evening due to taxes.

Before we could meet up, though, she needed to shower because being abused by the government made her feel dirty.

Choices are limited at 8:00 on a Saturday night so I let her choose the destination and she wanted Magpie.

The door was wide open and every table was taken but bar stools were available.

I couldn't convince her to go Greek with me, so I enjoyed a glass of Semeli "Feast" Moschofilero without her.

The amuse bouche was one perfect fava bean with blood orange and shaved sea truffle.

The chalkboard outside was full of new dishes, so we chose from that.

A smoked rabbit terrine with house crackers and orange marmalade was an addictive cream-cheese-based marvel.

Housemade pheasant sausage with a bit of heat came with the poetically labeled Night Sky chevre and pear butter to cool it down.

As if those two weren't enough to knock our socks off, we then had pan-seared duck breast with Easter egg radishes, avocado, orange segments and sea truffle.

The variety of beautiful colors explained the name, Easter egg radishes, and maybe even the taste, highly desirable.

Over our feast, she regaled me with a day spent with her Dad, a character if ever there was one.

They began by trying to find a marina whose location he'd long since forgotten.

From there, they went to Costco (his first time) where when they saw a buy one, get one deal on Preparation H, he began to do the hemorrhoid dance, much to her mortification.

A trip to his library followed (a library, she said, that had a cafe, wtf?) where she attempted to teach him how to do a keyword search.

But the high point of the afternoon, she said, was when he took her to a secret pet cemetery he'd discovered that necessitated them climbing down a ravine and over a creek to access it.

One of them might have ended up with wet feet making the trek.

The reward was a field of headstones devoted to Fluffy and Snookums, may they rest in peace.

By this time, I was laughing so hard I was worried "Feast" was going to come out of my nose.

We calmed down with dessert, an incredibly dark and dense chocolate mousse with rosemary pound cake and lemon curd, leading to another laugh attack when she asked me in all seriousness if I'd ever made lemon curd.

Well, there was the time when I took those lemons, I have definitely never even thought about making lemon curd.

Why would I when people far more qualified than me can do it so much better?

By that time, we were two of the only four people left in the restaurant, meaning it was time for us to get out and let the staff go home and sleep before coming back tomorrow for brunch.

My next stop was a rare Saturday night edition of Live at Ipanema, curated by the Cheats Movement.

Crossing the patio, a friend spotted me and smirked. "I beat you here," he bragged before getting realistic. "That'll never happen again."

You can almost always count on Live at Ipanema starting around 10:45 and yet tonight I walked in at 10:30 and Sam Reed was already singing.

The band, fronted by dynamic Photosynthesizer front woman Sam, sounded great and did a bunch of covers (Coldplay, Radiohead, Chaka Khan) that showed off the range of her voice.

The crowd was especially lively for a Live at Ipanema event, but as a musician friend observed, "It is Saturday night after all."

I ran into plenty of friends who'd seen a James River Film Fest film today, along with a lot of the festival's organizers coming over for a drink after the last screening.

In yet another reminder of what a small place Richmond is, I officially met a girl I'd seen Monday at a house show and Wednesday at a poetry reading.

We concluded that we have a lot of the same (good) taste.

The Low Branches played next and I have to say it was the loudest audience I've ever seen at a Low Branches show.

The sound of the music in the room was amazing, crystalline and clear (thanks to Allen), so many of us focused on what we could hear while the rest of the Saturday night revelers chatted on.

The band finished up with a cover of "Jolene" that finally quieted the room down with its sheer brilliance as done by singer Christina.

Or, as a musician friend put it, "I worked all day and got home and was going to stay in. Then I listened to Low Branches' Bandcamp and I thought, I need to hear this girls' voice live tonight."

As many times as I've heard Christina's voice, I still feel that way.

Add in Josh's superb bass playing (another bass player observed, "Sometimes he just plays one note and just holds it. Man!"), Matt's distinctive guitar parts and the invaluable Blasco on drums (their sound has grown so much since he joined the group), and they should be a must-see no matter what kind of day you've had.

Mine was pretty great - a vintage silent film, gardening with a novice and dinner dishing with a favorite girlfriend- but so was the final chapter.

That'll happen again.

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