Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Other Will Do

No question, jet lag still has its arms firmly around me.

Hoping that some juice of the holiday land would do the trick, we began with a bottle brought back from Italy.

Marchesi de'Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglione 2009.a full-bodied blend that took us right back to the bay of Naples, got the evening off to a fine start.

After two weeks of eating in a new place every night, we headed out to see what new offerings Richmond had for us.

Heritage, in the old Six Burner space, seemed a likely candidate.

The space didn't wow me, although I liked the bookshelf of old cookbooks in the backand the airier vestibule.

The place was surprisingly lively for a Wednesday night, but we found two seats at the bar, a harried barkeep and a wine list notable for how Left Coast-centric (with a couple of Virginians) it was.

My choice after our earlier holiday wine was a Parducci Petite Sirah with nice fruit and a long finish, but no Tuscan.

Like so many restaurants lately, the dinner menu is divided into small, medium and large.

My eye immediately was caught by pork "fries," causing my date to inquire if there was any pig I wouldn't want to eat.

None that I've found so far. Is that a problem?

Pulled pork had been shaped into fry-like forms and, what else, fried and came with a smoky barbecue sauce and pickled vegetables.

I have to say, they were the highlight of our tasting. Crispy on the outside and full of shredded pig inside, I could have eaten a lot more than two.

A lamb gyro was less notable, mainly because the meat wasn't as spicy as expected and the two girls next to us who had the same characterized it as "okay."

The music was characterized by the bartender as "innocuous indie music" which seemed a bit bland at first but improved over time as the songs became more obscure.

The Walkmen are always welcome.

Despite all the eating we'd done in Italy, we'd only had one oyster between us, so a Rappahannock River Oysters Gratin a la Rockefeller (spinach, housemade bacon, roasted garlic) seemed a good choice.

Partner in crime wished for bread to use as a conveyance to his mouth, but I was fine with a fork, although I'd have preferred a slightly thicker sauce.

Hoping to reprogram our taste buds for the New World, we finished with the Virginia cheese plate of Appalachian and Grayson cheeses with chutney and salad.

The bartender told us of his discovery of these two cheeses while he was working in New Jersey and who wouldn't be impressed with two raw cow's milk cheeses we dubbed "Stinky" and "Stinkier"?

That is, as long as we didn't talk too closely to anyone else afterwards.

Our afterwards was Balliceaux for Miss Tess and the Talkbacks, a band I'd seen back in May and had a ball hearing.

There I saw Miss Tess' biggest fan, a friend and wine god who tries never to miss an opportunity to see this talented band do their brand of jazz/swing/rock and vintage covers.

One thing you can be sure of at Miss Tess' shows (besides superb musicianship and her honky tonkin', note-bending voice) is that the dancing crowd will show up, even on a school night.

Before long, a couple was out there dipping and twirling while the rest of us wished we could do half as well.

As the woman at the next table called out as they left the dance floor, "You guys are goooood!"

The band sang songs of Brooklyn ("People Come Here for Gold"), fishing, New Orleans ("Adeline") and of course, love.

"Everybody's Darling" got everybody dancing.

In fact, they were doing their new album "Sweet Talk" start to finish, including a sublime cover of the Inkspots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire."

I don't want to set the world on fire
I just want to start a flame in your heart
In my heart I have but one desire
And that one is you
No other will do

Where else are you going to hear a cover of a 1941 song on a Wednesday night except at Balliceaux when Miss Tess comes to town?

Now here's the real heartbreak. After such a stellar set, I was yawning.

And not the polite little yawn of someone who's had three glasses of red wine, but the bone-shaking yawns of someone whose body thinks it's 5:30 a.m. instead of 11:30 p.m.

Sadly, we didn't stay for Miss Tess' second set as a result.

I should just be happy to have heard another evening of this talented band, but I'm still resenting my body telling me to go to bed.

In my heart I have but one desire: to get my body clock back on RVA time.

I loved you, Italy, but you're killin' me here.

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