Thursday, April 17, 2014

On the Slow Track

Some days just go down easily.

Today I drove to the northern neck, passing a gas station sign that read, "Coming soon, Spring!" and an insurance office sign that said, "Life is a roller coaster. Enjoy the ride!"

Promises and advice, what more could you ask of a road trip?

My destination was Warsaw to spend the afternoon with a furniture maker, a man who lives on the 800 acre property his family has owned since the 19th century.

He asked if I was up for a walk and we set off to see wood and trees, past bamboo groves planted by his grandfather.

He told me that they were most striking after a snow, when they were bent from the weight of it and the scene resembled a Japanese print.

My only complaint as we meandered around looking at drying trees, stacked boards and the ruins of the original house built in 1840 was the wind, which was fierce.

When we headed back toward the house he spent 15 years building to replace the old farmhouse, his mother came out to offer us razzleberry pie with ice cream.

Make no mistake, she hadn't baked it for us, but for her two old St. Catherine's school buddies who'd come to lunch.

Never one to turn down pie, much less razzleberry which I'd never had and needed to know more about, I answered yes for both of us.

Turns out razzleberry pie is made with raspberries and marion berries and she was one of those women who makes a crispy, buttery crust, so the unexpected mid-afternoon dessert was a real treat and we finished the interview with our tongues stained purple.

After an easy drive home, I found a message from my date tonight, changing the time we were meeting at the Roosevelt.

Just as well since I needed a good clean-up after traipsing through the back forty (or 400).

When I got to the Roosevelt, the joint was jumping, but I found two empty stools and sat down to wait for my friend.

I'd brought Sunday's Post travel section, knowing I'd get there first and figuring it would give me time to catch up on my reading.

The magnificently-bearded bartender Brandon was good enough to bring me the Virginia Fizz I was craving while I followed the story of intrepid travelers intent on having breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and dinner in Barcelona, courtesy of a new higher speed train.

Spoiler alert: lunch at Gare de Lyon's Le Train Bleu was by the far the highlight. Crispy pig and escargot terrine would have won my heart, too.

Maybe it was reading about that meal, but it wasn't long before I realized that I wasn't going to be able to sip bubbles indefinitely without sustenance.

Razzleberry pie only takes a girl so far.

To tide me over, I asked Brandon for a snack of crostini with ricotta and Charlottesville honey and he delivered not only that but tales of his recent move, characterizing his shift from the Hill to Carytown briefly and back as the "Church Hill shuffle."

As in, people try to leave and can't. The Hill has a hold, apparently.

My friend showed up at last and we moved to stools on the far side of the bar, away from the fray.

Starving, we ordered quickly, both starting with salads of roasted beets, smoked bluefish, "everything" crema, horseradish and pickled onions.

I've had many an everything bagel, but it was my first (but hopefully not last) everything crema, the assortment of flavors tying together the beets, fish and greens to perfection. Friend and I were particularly taken with the caraway notes in the crema.

Because the restaurant was so busy and several people had babies with them (don't get me started), we had to lean into each other to gossip and share stories, a sacrifice we were more than willing to make to catch up.

I was seeking her advice on taking a selfie, something I need to do for an assignment and clearly something with which I have no practice, asking her to recommend filters and effects. She's the kind of wise ass friend who tries to tell me about one that makes you look enormous and another that ages you, neither of which hold much appeal. I may be a Luddite, but I'm not a complete idiot.

No doubt I'll be able to figure it out. If I can take pictures of others with my camera, I ought to be able to shoot myself this once.

With another glass of Fizz to cut the richness, I dove into a bowl of gnocchi carbonara with spicy Surry sausage and al dente peas, only to look up and see a friend coming through the door.

It was the singer and fan of sad folk songs I know and she was obviously on a date with the handsome man whom I'd heard about when we'd had brunch recently.

Given the shortage of available stools, they had no choice but to sit beside us so I tried to stay hidden behind my date so as to not cramp her style. Besides, I'll hear the details later if she wants to share.

While my date enjoyed peanut butter pie (I'm not a fan but helped her with the whipped cream), the chef came out and chatted with us while he enjoyed a beer and making us laugh.

Fully fed, lubricated with bubbles and laughing at dry humor from a Beard nominee.

Some nights require no effort on my part whatsoever.

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