Saturday, December 20, 2014

Golden Years

I'm happy, hope you're happy, too...

Tonight's holiday celebration began with the birthday boy-to-be's new compilation, "Best of Bowie," playing at top volume while the Bowie lovers danced around his living room. "Ashes to Ashes" was a fitting kick-off to the upcoming weeks of little work and all play.

After a poll, it was decided that dinner would follow at Amuse, a block and a half from the Bowie dance party, although I'd be the first to admit that it wasn't easy to walk away from "Under Pressure" or "Suffragette City."

After a mighty cold stroll over (or maybe that was the fuchsia tights?), we entered through the sculpture garden into the atrium where tangoing was in full force. Seeing the dancers reminded my friend of a guy he'd recently met who went to Brazil 17 times, always in search of the ideal tango partner he couldn't find in this country.

Even if I don't know him, it's hard not to admire a man who takes his dancing that seriously.

Upstairs at Amuse, the bar was full, so we settled for a table in the busy room, but only long enough to decide on a wine and then, like we wished it so, the bar emptied and we took our rightful place there. Barboursville Brut Cuvee 1814 was ordered and a favorite bartender delivered it post haste, along with homemade cheese straws.

The southern Christmas gods were smiling.

I'm not sure the evening could have gotten off to a better start than Bowie and Barboursville, but those straws made a solid case for themselves.

Over a discussion of the sublime Hasui print show we'd all seen, we devoured an amuse bouche of scallop ceviche, the deviled eggs du jour (classic preparation with pickled green bean and oh-so creamy) and curry fried oysters, the perennial favorite Amuse can't take off the menu for fear of a revolt.

I heard a little about the fabulous party I'd missed Sunday while I was at my parents' house being a good daughter. Someone told a story about a man laying down in the street, trying to be a human speed bump. There was a prolonged debate about what constitutes proper disco attire, deferring to those who actually lived it.

As always, I got the lecture about how I need a cell phone. About how I'm going to be given one and discover how great it is. Tonight it was even suggested I need a government cell phone, whatever that is. I need no cell phone.

For my main course, I chose housemade Scrapple with a soft-cooked egg, grilled Billy bread and pickled onions, a dish I didn't have to share because everyone else had preconceived notions of Scrapple. When I tried to explain that what was on my plate bore little resemblance to the Scrapple they knew, they remained uninterested. Fools.

Everyone, that is, except the bartender, food runner and a nearby server, all of whom raved about it when my plate came out. The chunks of pig under the runny egg were soul-satisfying but became food of the gods with the addition of the pickled onions. Some people will never know what they missed.

Another bottle of Barboursville kept the party going even as art cheerleader Pam Reynolds stopped by the bar and spoke to one in our group about his superior chopstick skills. Although the room had begun to clear out, there were still half a dozen tables as firmly entrenched as we were, despite the fact that the museum had closed.

Someone mentioned the abundance of days off over the next couple weeks and next thing we knew, people were comparing plans for Florida vacations. Then New Year's Eve plans. The good news is that with the VMFA open 365 days a year, any day any of us are free, there's an open place to enjoy some bubbles. More plans were concocted.

Chocoholic that I am, I still couldn't have imagined a more appropriate or decadent dessert than Amuse's housemade eggnog. Using Courvoisier, gold rum and Jack Daniels ("because it's not too sweet!" the bartender insisted) with a base of the stellar Homestead Creamery nog, the magic potion had rested a few days to blend the flavors and tonight presented itself as both the smell and taste of Christmas.

"We would drink this to trim the tree, then on Christmas Eve morning and Christmas morning and..." reminisced the curly-haired one. Clearly she'd had a fine upbringing. A debate ensued about whether it's possible to make a single glass of eggnog or whether batch preparation and fermenting time were required.

My camp prevailed on this one. Nog needs time.

Which, by that point, we were running out of. The security guards in the museum were counting the minutes until we left, so we accommodated them.

When the bartender inquired about my later plans as we were saying goodnight, I surprised everyone by saying I was going home.

No, really. I've got no plans to dance anymore tonight, even if you put on more Bowie. Okay, "Let's Dance" and that's it. "Modern Love," no fair!

Let the Christmas holiday merrymaking continue...

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