Sunday, July 30, 2017

Take My Advice and Live

I'm in a coma, stuffed to the gills with more food and musical theater than one person should try to consume in an evening.

The four of us had good intentions, really we did. All we wanted was to try out a new restaurant and see a play and instead we finished the evening reeling from an obscene amount of both.

Sorry/not sorry.

It only took us three U-turns to arrive at the front door of Brenner Pass and whatever I expected it to look like, it wasn't a spacious restaurant in a glass-fronted new building, though I immediately liked the comfortable chairs and distance between tables.

To celebrate Beau's new job, I was tapped to pick an appropriately celebratory wine and don't you know I went right for pink bubbly.

Boasting the best possible description ("harmonious, fresh and youthful, sunshine and happiness in a glass," to which Pru quipped, "Sounds like you. Maybe you should put that next to your picture on your blog"), Tissot Cremant du Jura Rose was dry and lush. Beau was especially taken with the nose of red fruits.

When our server couldn't quite manage to get the cork out, a pinch un-corker showed up and did the job effortlessly, commenting that it should not be a noisy affair. I shared that Holmes says it should sound like a woman's sigh, but he said in wine circles, it was said that it should sound like a nun's fart.

"Well, whoever says that must not hang around many Catholics because some nuns' farts are anything but!" Pru corrected him. The woman is a font of information.

After toasting the man of the hour, we dove into Gruyere fondue for four - each of us with a different colored tip on our fondue forks - dipping bread, potatoes and speck, along with cornichons and pearl onions for tartness to cut the richness.

Not the lightest start to an Alpine meal, but an appropriate one.

Since it's tomato season, I couldn't resist tomato and bread soup made with heirlooms, smoked pork and the masterstroke of aromatic fennel mascarpone. I might have wished for a tad more bread, but that's just me.

Trout Grenobloise was glorious, done with vermouth, lemon and parsley with three piped stars of potatoes dauphine for garnish. Beau's paccheri bolohnese bianco was comfort food at its finest with smoked pork, trumpet mushrooms and grace notes of sage.

"I want to crawl in this bowl of pasta," he announced, but we overruled him.

I was too full to taste either the bacon and Reblochon croquettes or the Tajarin - tagliorini, chicken liver, thighs and skin with dandelion greens - but not for lack of desire.

Meanwhile, while discussing men, I'd brought up the subject of non-alpha men and Beau didn't hesitate to include himself in that group.

"I'm the alpha male in this relationship," Pru stated emphatically for the record. Duh. Nothing new here, keep moving along.

By the time we got to dessert, the dining room had completely filled up and servers - including one in cute black tights - were buzzing about like bees. We may have felt uncomfortably full, but damn if we were going to forego dessert in a restaurant with a dedicated pastry chef.

We didn't have time to wait for a souffle, so I instead chose the gianduju tart, a dark chocolate ganache with hazelnut over swipes of salted caramel, while Pru swooned over baba au rhum, a delicate sponge cake taken over the top with orange blossom mascarpone.

And there you have it, a meal that both starts and finishes with mascarpone. There ought to be a law.

We left Scott's Addition impressed and overly full with just about enough time to get to Swift Creek Mill Theater by curtain time, but only if Beau sped, which he happily did. Actually, everyone but me in that car has a lead foot, so I just buckle up and hope for the best.

Tearing down I-95, someone worried about the possibility of the law pulling us over. When someone envisioned the cop asking the speeder who's having a baby, I reminded them that there wasn't a live egg in the car and Beau roared with laughter.

You never know where your jokes will land.

We landed at the theater with a few minutes to spare before "The Musical of Musicals, the musical" began. The director explained that there'd be strobe lights but that they were startling, not dangerous. Kind of like how you want new life adventures to go.

This was a musical for fans of musical theater, divided into five scenes, each paying homage to different songwriters and rife with overt and sly references to the songwriters' plays.

To keep things simple, the plot remained essentially the same in each: someone couldn't pay their rent.

So for "Corn," a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, there were references to "Sound of Music," "Cinderella," "Oklahoma," "Carousel," "South Pacific" and "The King and I" and young June being forced into marriage with her landlord because she couldn't pay her rent.

Also, ears of corn dropping down from the rafters and lots of corny songs like "I Don't Love You." So very un-Rodgers and Hammerstein.

My favorite was "A Little Complex" in the style of Stephen Sondheim, which meant mocking his way with internal rhymes, non-rhyming lines, bizarre plots and deep characters. There was plenty of "Sweeny Todd," not a little "Into the Woods" and an hysterical reference to "Specific Overtures."

"Dear Abby" paid tribute to Jerry Herman with a larger-than-life diva a la "Mame," "Hello, Dolly" and god knows what else with boas, brassy showstoppers and classic tunes like "Did I Put Out Enough?"

Define "enough."

During intermission, we got off on a tangent about the paisley zipper-front dress Pru was wearing. I told her I'd worn a  zipper-front dress to a party in the late '80s and a guy had walked up to me and unzipped it.

When I got amazed gasps, I shared that I'd once gone to a dinner party and the guy next to me had pulled out handcuffs and cuffed me to him for the evening (claimed he'd lost the key). And, no, my husband hadn't been pleased.

Somehow the discussion got off on men wearing women's clothes, prompting Pru to ask of us, "Do you know how many men have worn my clothes?"

Actually, no, I didn't, but apparently it began when she was 11 when a neighboring football player put on her pantyhose and blossomed from there. When she asked, "Do you have any idea how many men have been in my closet?" I knew I'd led a sheltered life.

Act 2 began with an Andrew Lloyd Webber's tribute couched in "Phantom of the Opera" and "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and necessarily involved mocking his penchant for spectacle (golf announcer: "The audience applauds at the set change") and hubris ("I'll do for you what I did for Jesus").

And when the phantom is unmasked, it turns out he was born a cat. Get it?

The final scene used Kander and Ebb's plays such as "Chicago," "New York, New York" and "Cabaret," all of which necessitated slutty showgirls, German (and pig Latin) accents and a song called "Color Me Gay."

Oh, yes, plus jazz hands and the most fantastical conical sequined bras ever.

The four cast members all had fine voices and excelled at a variety of roles, making for a thoroughly satisfying, if a bit overwhelming, tribute to many of the great musicals of the audience's lifetimes.

Not that this was a young audience by any stretch of the imagination, so we left thoroughly stuffed with musical theater references and tried parsing them on the drive home.

Impossible. Color us way too full on theater to think.

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