Monday, July 31, 2017

Up the Ladder to the Treehouse

Turned out this was a two pop-up kind of day.

So let me tell you about self-restraint. Self restraint is going to a Nate's Bagels pop-up right here in the neighborhood at Charm School (an ice cream shop, not what you might expect from the name) and then walking to the river before I opened it to eat it waterside.

That's almost 25 minutes in possession of a Nate's everything bagel with a schmear of scallion cream cheese without so much as letting it cross my lips. For that pleasure, I made it down to Brown's Island, headed toward the pipeline and took a seat on a stump at the water's edge to gorge on my breakfast while watching a convoy of red rafts navigate a rapid, some better than others.

In fact, once the bagel was history (after I'd packed up my debris as well as an assortment of beer bottles, cans and liquor flasks into my bag) and I was walking the pipeline, I saw one of those rafts caught on a bigger rapid, causing three of the rafters to abandon their paddles and lean dangerously forward at the front of the raft in an attempt to loosen it.

Eventually they were successful, all except for the moment where two of them flipped out of the raft and had to be thrown a yellow rope attached to a flotation device to pull themselves out of the fast moving water.

It was a bit of post-breakfast excitement.

Walking back along Broad Street, I ran into Special K, a regular in J-Ward, who greeted me with "Good morning, beautiful!" and asked for a high five. Giving it to him was apparently enough for him to propose.

"If I could, I'd marry you! Then I'd buy you a Corvette! And I'd love you every single day, really I would!" I figured a peace sign was the appropriate response to such an offer and kept moving.

A couple blocks down, two firetrucks came screaming down Broad Street, one on the wrong side of the road before making a last-minute U-turn at the Quirk Hotel where there was a 2-alarm fire on the rooftop bar.

I wouldn't want this to get around, but I'm feeling like a bit of a disaster voyeur. That or a jinx.

Why? I've been at the scene of all four of the restaurant fires that have happened over the past month: Don't Look Back, Tobacco Company, Peking and now Quirk. Only DLB was intentional - the others I just happened to be walking by at exactly the right (wrong?) moment - but I was also at the scene of the shooting in front of the VCU police station and a block from where the cops shot the guy in a kilt with an ax and knife last week.

If they police are compiling a dossier of suspects, it doesn't look good for me. Does walking count as an alibi?

Not to go all Scarlet O'Hara on the subject, but I'll think about that tomorrow.

Tonight I was at another pop-up, this one from Southbound chef Bobo Catoe, held at the Roosevelt and dubbed the Taqueria el Tigre.

Just like this morning, there was a wait, but not a terribly long one before my date and I were shown to a table and asked what we wanted to drink from bartender extraordinaire T's pop-up cocktail menu.

My companion went for an Oaxacan old fashioned (Reposado tequila, mezcal, agave and chocolate bitters), while I couldn't resist the Iterremoto!, a magic elixir of Pipeno wine (a young Chilean wine), Italian bitter liqueur and pineapple sherbet.

He had me at sherbet.

It reminded both of us of a punch and was so appealing my date threw back his drink so he could order his own Iterremoto!, which apparently means earthquake and needs an exclamation point.

Eager to dive into something besides alcohol, we ordered six of seven things on the menu: prickly pear salad with tomatoes, pine nuts and coffee, roasted beets over avocado puree, Autumn Olive Farms pork tacos (with ranchero sauce and chicharrones), crispy catfish tacos (with peanut salsa, pickled peppers and red cabbage), braised chicken tacos (with killer peach mole, pickled peaches and crispy skin) and ceviche with shrimp, lime, jalapeno, cucumber and herbs.

There wasn't a bummer in the bunch.

Additional Iterremotos were also in order as he regaled me with the details of the outside shower he's currently building at his house and I told him in a low voice about my growing police dossier. Turns out he had a couple of good fire and shooting stories of his own in his past, so he didn't judge me, either.

We took our time about eating, while tables around us emptied and filled again. I fell in love with the food runner's shade of lipstick, a vibrant fuchsia she'd chosen to match the flowers on her tropical shirt. That's my kind of coordination.

A baby at the table behind us saw me smiling at my date and thought it was directed at him and from then on, kept looking at me to play the "who smiles first?" game. His Mom finally turned around to see who was amusing her baby so well. Guilty as charged.

When we left there, it was to go admire the outdoor shower in progress and then on to Flora for Small Talk, a new jazz improv series hosted by guitarist Scott Burton.

It went something like this: 2 musicians improvise together for 30 minutes, then two others improvise together, then all four improvise together. First it was guitar and sax, then electronics/voice and drums, then guitar, drums, electronics/voice and bass/sax.

We found a booth facing the stage and sat back to listen, the advantage being I had a musician for a date, so I got all kinds of informed commentary well beyond my musical vocabulary. But even without him saying it, I could tell what a wonderfully musical drummer Lance of No BS Brass Band is and how much his drumming brought to the overall sound.

Just like I know what two pop-ups, climbing up a ladder to a treehouse and a proposal brought to my Sunday.

But, me in a Corvette? Preposterous!

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