Monday, June 22, 2015

Shock of the New

Let's just say it's satisfying to know that I can still surprise people.

Sometimes it's a literal surprise like when I came downstairs tonight to go out and surprised a guy hanging over the fence that fronts my little city garden. Camera in hand, he was shooting close-ups of my geraniums, daisies and roses, so nothing nefarious was going on, but he jumped up guiltily when I approached, asking, "Whatcha doin'?"

Once I calmed him down, assuring him I had no problem with him photographing my garden (it's not even the first time someone's done it), we quickly became friends as he shot more and showed me some of the images. The one of a bee on a lily stem was especially dazzling. After he told me he lives just down the street, he asked if he could come back and shoot my cannas once the buds open.

I don't think it was a metaphor for anything, but I'm not ruling it out yet.

I've surprised people several times lately because I had on jeans or shorts, stopping even close friends accustomed to seeing me only in skirts and dresses in their tracks. It's happened with three of my favorite bartenders this month- including tonight with the one whose silk-screened print hangs in my dining room - when I've ordered a cocktail.

"I have to say I'm a little in shock right now," he says with a proper stunned look after I order an Alright, Alright at the Roosevelt's bar. But even the one who recently told me he thinks I'd look great in jeans can't be surprised that I'd be attracted to a mezcal cocktail with pineapple, yellow Chartreuse, lime and cardamom, all flavors I like.

Of course, no one is surprised that when a bar-wide discussion of the origin of the phrase "alright, alright" comes up, I neither know the reference nor the film that spawned it. Sorry to be predictable sometimes, but I cannot be a continuous source of amazement to people.

The clatter of diners at all but two tables prevented me hearing the music, but not from eating, beginning with scallop crudo admirably set off with pickled ramps, cucumber chunks, capers and XO sauce for some kick, until I was joined by a restaurateur glad to see me but weary after dealing with a weekend full of problems requiring attention. It's a lament I've heard before.

My second course was pork belly over cheese grits with peanuts, exactly the kind of dish with which the Roosevelt built its reputation, and now carried on with a twist by Chef Mike Braune of whom I was a fan back when he was at Secco. After the delicacy of the seafood, the fatty richness of the pig felt indulgent.

It wasn't long before we were joined by a dedicated wine geek who'd been shut out at Ellwood Thompson and now wanted rum punch and the bluefish entree. This led to picture sharing of a recent luncheon feast at Edo's that featured wine, whole branzino (only problem: the eyeballs were a little dry), hangar steak, broccolini and three kinds of pasta that looked like it could have fed four rather than two.

Another story (alas, no pictures) involved going to the movies to see "Spy" and taking a really excellent bottle of Pinot Noir which they sipped out of paper cups, thus taking "Spy" to a whole new level. I was asked about my latest movie and recommended "Love and Mercy" highly as much for the thoughtful filmmaking as the well-told story.

By the time the evening ended, it was just us and the five-top in the window and judging by their loud hootin' and hollerin', they may have imbibed more but I doubt their conversation was any better.

When I got out of my car at home, my neighbor was sitting on his porch and called me over. "Would you like a beer?' he offered, apparently ever the good host. When I declined, he broadened the invitation, saying he also had Gatorade or water. "Would you like to sit down and talk?" was his final offer. Better not.

If he knew me, he'd have undoubtedly been surprised as hell to hear me turn down any chance to talk. Instead, he accepted it, telling me how really nice I looked in my shorts.

Alright, alright. If he only knew.


  1. "gets the story, foodie, frequent vistor to the Northern Neck..."

    lucky for us.....your readers, there's more to you than that.


  2. Of course, I didn't write that, it was written about me by higher ups! Thanks for noticing it didn't cover all of me, cw!