Monday, January 19, 2015

Did I Happen to Mention?

You know it's a good day when it ends with listening to a) Julia Fordham's "Porcelain" and b) the Luther Vandross Pandora station.

First stop was the Richmond Jewish Food Festival at the Jewish Community Center, where the line for food spanned the building and into the heated tent. Fortunately, the line moved quickly and there were plenty of volunteers, so before we knew it, there were people asking us what we wanted to eat.

Never mind that they were navigating mud puddles and sloppy patches of trodden lawn, every volunteer had a smile and a good attitude for the hungry masses. Our order, matzo ball soup, brisket, broccoli kugel, potato latkes, stuffed cabbage and Israeli beer made for a laden tray.

We found seating at a table in the cafe with three women who complimented us for our wisdom in only choosing one dinner and four sides. "We were little piggies," the woman in a fur coat and muddy boots said. "You did it the right way."

At the very least, we did it the way that allowed us to have an afternoon once we left the JCC. Others seemed destined for naps.

The next stop was the VMFA to see the Impressionist paintings finally released from the Mellon estate after Paul Mellon's wife Bunny died last year. Although we were only able to locate three of the five pieces recently added to the collection, they were worth seeing.

Come on, when are a new Seraut, Gaugin and Pissaro not worth checking out?

Naturally, we ended up at Amuse for happy hour, where I took in a Double Happiness (lychee liqueur and champagne with coconut jelles) while discussing current events: Charlie Hebdo, Elizabeth Warren and John Kerry.

Once the dining room had emptied out a bit and the soundtrack mellowed to "Chim Chim Cheree," we moved on to Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, a wine I'd first tasted at the Australian embassy last year. The sky provided a scenic panorama over the Pauley Center as we sipped and talked about mariachi bands, low-tech accounting and women who drink wine.

Leaving the museum after it had closed, we filled the gap until movie time at Secco, noticing a guy who arrived with a beverage in hand. Who in the world has the nerve to show up at a wine bar with a beverage? As our server observed, if the owner had been there, he'd have been thrown out on his ear.

Over glasses of Chinon and bites of pork rilletes with cornichons, we watched as the mostly empty bar became crowded with new arrivals and pleasantly intoxicated couples. At one point, a couple became rowdy, causing the server to observe, "That's okay for Saturday night, but not on Sunday evening." The couple soon left.

As did we because Movie Club was happening tonight at Strange Matter and we wanted to score recliners in the front row. The crowd was small but mighty for the Coen Brothers' second feature, "Raising Arizona."

I don't know about you, but I hadn't seen this movie since it was in theaters, so it was a delight to revisit the story of a couple desperate to have a child of their own. Nicolas Cage looked so young while all the usual suspects - John Goodman, Frances McDormand - were there.

It's impossible not to enjoy an evening of vintage film punctuated with trivia questions and prize giveaways (imagine winning a copy of "Lord of War" for mumbling the correct answer). Be still my heart, next month is the Patrick Swayze classic "Road House."

By the time the day was winding down, it was time for Lallier champagne and some vintage soul. I may not recognize Brian McKnight when I hear his name, but his dulcet tones are unmistakable. And don't get me started on Stevie Wonder's "That Girl." Pure heaven.

It's the kind of thing that's not only okay for Saturday night but also Sunday evening. And then some.

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