Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Everyday I (try to) Write the Book

As days turn to nights with zero time for blogging, it's probably best to think of these as postcards.

Greetings from First Fridays...
You know it's going to be a great evening when the owner of Chez Foushee asks how close you'd like to sit to the bossa nova band. We put just enough distance between the music and our conversation to enjoy both.

Meanwhile, we took our time with crab bisque, olives and Marcona almonds in herbed oil and a couple of Foushee market salads loaded with cannellini beans, craisins, toasted almonds and red onions over peppery arugula with green goddess dressing. The salad choice was a matter of necessity once I found out that their long-standard brussels sprouts salad (the one with bacon, red onions and bleu cheese) has been put out to pasture. I may never recover from the loss, though a dense dark chocolate mousse helped ease the pain somewhat.

Our art fix was taken at the main library with "Herald 4- Drawing from the Knew," an exhibit of seven regional artists working in vastly different styles. At 1708, we took in "Yo, Bruce: Gerald Donato + Bruce Wilhelm" because the playful nature of Donato's work never gets old. At Black Iris for the "Sink or Swim" show, my favorite was the drawing that incorporated Popeye, Olive Oil and Wimpy into one image (and probably unrecognizable to a younger viewer). Candela Gallery's group show, "Channels" of work by Willie Anne Wright, Courtney Johnson and Lisa Kokin was compelling, none more so than Kokin's mixed media sewn collages using old black and white photographs of people sewn together.

Because we're all connected, right?

Greetings from Peaches, home to 45s
Even if there had been no crate of surprises, the meal would have been memorable. Holmes, Beloved and I ventured out of their usual comfort zone for a meal taken at the corner of Nota Bene's bar. Holmes went in looking for the cauliflower that had changed his opinion about cauliflower, only to find it (like the brussels sprout salad at Chez Foushee) M.I.A. Where he scored points was in suggesting we get the brocaletti with red peppers and anchovy breadcrumbs instead.

Since when does Holmes suggest a vegetable he can't even pronounce? Or, more to the point, who was I with and what had he done with Holmes?

Bottles of Rosabella Rose (unfortunately, they were out of the Arianna Occhipinti Grillo we'd requested) accompanied the brocaletti, along with an arugula salad with red onion, fennel and sweety drops. One of the servers told us she'd been so enamored of the sweety drops that she'd ordered an entire jar for herself. I have to say, Holmes, Beloved and I were mighty taken with the teardrop-shaped cross between a cherry tomato and a jalapeno that managed to taste both sweet and tart at once.

Next we went on a fungi bender, first with a wild mushroom, roasted garlic, caramelized onion and Fontina pizza (with crust to die for) and then with a special of tagliarini with an array of mushrooms in a cream sauce. The tagliarini was so tender, it all but melted in your mouth.

Dessert was an extravaganza, with tiramisu (Beloved's first ever), lemon buttermilk zeppole with dark chocolate dipping sauce and the dessert du jour, a fig crostata. We paired the latter two with Barolo Chinato, as lovely an accompaniment to a sweet course as could be hoped for. And that rustic fig crostata, well, its thick, barely sweet crust was worthy of the figs and that's saying a lot coming from a fig fanatic.

The evening's soundtrack came courtesy of Holmes' buddy who'd been downsizing. Seems Holmes stopped by and scooped up an old Peaches crate filled with 45s. Granted, you have to be pretty seasoned to remember what Peaches was and that they sold crates for records, but none of us had any trouble.

There was loads of Elvis Costello, only a couple from the Beatles, plus the Jam, the Stranglers, B52s and a host of other '80s bands. We spent the evening working our way through the 45s, occasionally going to an album (can you ever hear too much Brass Ring, really?) for a side just to give Holmes a break on the turntable.

Greetings from the land of secession
When the day is spent driving to and from Norfolk, where signs with dire warnings of "High tide gate testing Tuesday 1 a.m." foreshadow the impending hurricane, it's best if the evening involves no car time. Fortunately, Conch Republic was no more than a brief stroll for a view of skulling boats, setting sun and a photo shoot for the restaurant at a nearby table.

In what was no doubt early preparation for Florence's arrival, all the umbrellas had been taken off the deck, unfortunate since the sun continues to shine until the weather system arrives. I made do by sitting with my back to the sun, but given that it's (sadly) nearly mid-September, it slid behind the trees before too long.

Broadbent Vino Verde washed down conch chowder, a wedge salad ("What kind of dressing do you want on that?" our young server asks. Um, bleu cheese because it wouldn't be a true wedge salad without it?) and a California Cobb. Over at the Boathouse, we saw tiki torches burning on their deck, although I can no longer think of them without thinking of last year's white supremacy march at UVA. Damn neo-Nazis spoil everything for the whole group. What's next, beach umbrellas?

I know, I know, I'm leaving out an awful lot for someone with lots to say who hasn't blogged in days, but you know what? It's going to get worse before it gets better. Depending on how Flo decides to behave, things could get even crazier next week. And the week after? Forget about it.

When you throw your lot in with a planner, there's bound to be too much adventure to document it all. All I can tell you is that my aim is true.


  1. I'm thinking of you and all the other people who I know out east, hope you remain safe.

  2. Thank you, Professor. I have my fingers crossed that Florence under-delivers and normal life goes on sooner rather than later.

    Given what a faithful reader you are, I'm sorry to be so irregular with the blog these days. Hurricane Flo may give me plenty of time to write, though!

  3. I understand fully; I have an pretty good idea of what you've been doing instead.

  4. I bet you do! Thanks for being so understanding...