April 29, 2006

Can't see the white bucks, but I am wearing them. Along with a white belt. Posted by Picasa

White Bucks

I bought a pair of Johnson and Murphy white bucks last week. It was for a Gala at the Hermann Park Conservancy. The theme was summer whites. I was wearing my blue seersucker suit, and I thought that there was nothing that would go better with that than white bucks and a white belt.

I was feeling like Atticus Finch. I didn’t wear my Panama Hat just because it was going to be dark, but I thought that I would be lookin’ good if I had.

I was stylin’!

April 23, 2006

The Glass Wall

We bought season tickets this year to the Alley Theatre with our friends Tom and Gary. We saw some good plays this year, including one about WWI, one with Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter, and one about spies in the cold war.

This last Saturday, we went to see the last of the series, a new edition of Moliere’s The Miser which was created by the Jeune Lune theatre ensemble. Quite a play! It was written in the 17th century, but it is (like all good works of art) independent of time when treated correctly. You can read a review of it here and here. It was a fun experience.

Prior to the play, however, we always try to find someplace interesting to eat. I am always wanting to try new restaurants, and when I read this review, I knew where we had to go to the Glass Wall.

So we made reservations at a place that had not even been open for two weeks, something that I am usually loath to do. (well, ok, not really. I love trying new places, and will cut them a lot of slack) So we made reservations for four at 6:00 PM. Early enough to catch the show.

The place looks pretty cool as you drive up to it, and as you walk in. After some minor confusion emblematic of a start up restaurant, (what is table 14 again?) we were seated promptly. I will not rewrite Alison’s description, but I will talk about the food and service.

The waitress was great – ready to describe the food and wine, explaining that they had already changed the menu after only 12 days in service. The kitchen was open, and you could see the cook standing back there making (yes, not just supervising) every dish. They had some nice wines by the glass, which is good when you are in the pre-theatre mode and don’t want to drink too much.

The menu was great (not exactly the one I am linking to, as I mentioned above). Well laid out and simple. Between the four of us, we had Beet Gazpacho, Tuna Tartare, Crabcakes and Risotto with Parmesan Cheers and Morel mushrooms. (I had the Risotto. Each grain was separate and well seasoned. The cheese was shaved over the top, not grated, and the mushrooms were firm but not crunchy, full of flavor.) I had a taste of the gazpacho and it was something else. It looked like it should taste like borscht, but it tasted like creamy gazpacho. Interesting.

For our main courses, we had Crabcakes (the appetizer as the main course – twice) the halibut, and the roast chicken. (I had the chicken). The chicken came with mashed potatoes which were nier an chunky, with roasted asparagus on the side. But the chicken! Poems are written to such birds. Crispy skin, tender, juicy flash. That bird must have died a good death, because it tasted great.

For dessert, we had three sorbets, and the napoleon. I had the napoleon. The crispy part was crispy, the creamy parts were creamy. And it was all great.

We will go back.

Bistro Moderne

I will talk about the Bistro Moderne.

We attended the wake of a dear friend of my wife, and had been looking for someplace interesting to settle afterward and take the edge off. I had thought Mark’s but we could not get reservations on such a short notice. So we called Bistro Moderne, and they had no problem giving us a 7:30 spot on a Friday night. We called at about 5:00 pm. That seemed like a bad sign.

The first problem we had was just getting into the place. I am not fan of valet parking, but when them make you go around the block and THEN valet park, I get especially annoyed. But we had turned north onto the feeder road from Westerheimer (heading east) and were forced to drive around the hotel, back onto Westheimer heading west, and then into the hotel valet area.

We gave our keys up, and walked inside the restaurant. There was exactly ONE other table occupied at the time, although I believe that there was a rehearsal dinner going on. We were seated at a nice banquette, both of us looking into the restaurant. I liked that.

The waiter came by shortly and gave us the menus. He they asked if we wanted sparkling, still or (tsk) tap water. We chose the last. A few minute later, ANOTHER waiter cam by as ask if we wanted sparkling, still of (hmmm) tap water. We told him that we had already played that game, and water was on its way.

The menu looked nice, and the wine list looked good. We were offered bread, and I asked for some of the sliced baguette. It was exactly the consistency and flavor of Styrofoam. But you put enough butter on it and it seemed fine.

We had decided on our meals when the waiter returned and ordered an appetizer each – my wife asked for the foie gras saute a la rhubarbe, ($17) sauteed foie gras with fennel and rhubarb, dandelion salad, vanilla black pepper sauce and ordered the suggested glass of Chateau de Segur, Sauternes, ($11) as well.

I ordered the joue de veau ($11) veal cheek braised on a thin open lasagna with morel mushroom sauce. For wine, I ordered the Joseph Drouhin, Vosne-Romanee, Beaune, Cote-D'Or 02 ($80)

The Sauternes came almost immediately but we had to wait over ten minutes for the Burgundy, and even had to ask the manager after it. I was getting thirsty.

I have to say that the wine and the veal cheeks were delicious. However, the rhubarb was soggy and tart (and I come from Wisconsin where we know our rhubarb) the foie was cool and stringy, and the salad was best left on the plate.

For our main course, I had the l'onglet sauce moutarde ($19) a 9 oz hanger steak, mustard sauce and pommes frites. My wife had the magret de canard ($27) (duck breast with grapes and chanterelles, broccoli flan and a fried duck leg ravioli)

The duck was ordered rare as per the chef’s recommendation. It was tough and chewy. The broccoli flan was great. The duck leg ravioli was OK, as well.

The hanger steak tasted like liver, and the frites were coated with grease and cold.

We skipped desert because of the quality of the rest of the food.

April 2, 2006

NYC Day Four

On our last full day in New York, we again woke up late. We had an appointment to meet Doreen’s decorator (mentioned below) at a Fifth Avenue apartment. When we did, I was floored by the opulence. It was enough to make you a Bolshevik. I won’t say any more about that for now.

We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw a couple of their shows. In particular we saw the Rauschenberg show, and the Kara Walker exhibition. (A funny story: We have a Rauschenberg print from an illustrated version of Dante’s Inferno that I bought at Doreen’s first Evening in the Park silent auctions. I told a former boss that I had bought Doreen a Rauschenberg and he looked shocked that I could get my hands on such a thing and asked me “Did they know it was a Rauschenberg when they sold it to you?”)

We then met one of Doreen’s other New York Friends, Linda, for brunch at Café Ronda. That was great fun, as always. As we were leaving Woody Allen and Soon Yi walked by me on the street. I didn’t say anything, just was cool. I didn’t even stare.

After lunch Linda walked us down to the Boat Basin Park, very close to where we were staying. It was a very nice place. We walked back to her place for a cold drink, and then we picked up our tickets for our final show.

That show was The Three Penny Opera. It had just opened in Previews, and Jack was able to get us seats. Doreen really wanted to see this because Cyndi Lauper is in it. Alan Cumming is in it, too. We saw him in Cabaret a couple of years ago.

Since it was a Sunday night, the show was full of working actors. I knew some of them – Cynthia Nixon was there, Michael Cerveris (he played Sweeny Todd, and is a Yalie. Doreen went up and introduced herself to him) and Tony Roberts was there as well. Those are the only ones that we could recognize (well, that Doreen could recognize. I think my hit rate would have been lower than that)

The show was startling, set in sort of a modern day mythical city. Brecht is trying to teach us something. As he often said:

Erst kommt das Fressen First the grub (lit. "eating like animals, gorging")
Dann kommt die Moral. Then the morality.

We ate, then we were moralized.

Then after we were moralized, we at again. This time at Molyvos, a fancy Greek place not far away.

Then we walked home, got to sleep late one more time, packed, and flew Home.

April 1, 2006

NYC Day Three

The next morning (and another late morning, I might add) we again walked through the park. This time, our goal was the more conventional galleries on the East side.

But we couldn’t get there without first going into Bergdorf Goodman. Doreen was in search of something white that she could wear to Evening in the Park, her fundraising gala. We saw plenty of peasant blouses, plenty of gauchos. Plenty of Empire Waistlines. What a trip!

We had the great fortune to have lunch with Doreen’s friend Bruce Norris. He has a very dark worldview. Oddly enough, Bruce went to Africa and wrote a blog about it. He did not have a fun trip. But it did make for some fun stories.

We ambled down to see the Shake Shack in Madison Park, and then just walked around in the afternoon.

That evening we went to see the new version of Sweeny Todd. What a great production! Only ten people total – the actors also played instruments.

After the show we had dinner at ViceVersa, another wonderful theater area restaurant.

Sweeny Todd and Fleet Street

Sweeny Todd and Fleet Street

NYC Day Two

Our second day in New York started late and slow. Considering we didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 AM (Amazing when you think about our usual Houston bedtime!) I figure sleeping until after 8:00 AM was fair.

We spent the morning looking at geegaws at some fancy Geegaw shops. Doreen has a designer she is now working with who sent us the names of these stores. It was fun, but sometimes a little much. There was an Asian antiques store that had some wonderful, but rather expensive, pieces. We looked, we did not touch.

We did stop by the Thomas Moser’s store, as we have ordered one of their beds. It may be here in another month or so. They have some very nice furniture. We may be ordering some kitchen stools from them. A tall one for Doreen, and a short one for me. That way we can look each other in the eye while we eat at the counter. If we would eat at the counter.

In the afternoon, Jack had invited us to see Martin Short promote his new one man show. It was twenty minutes of his show that was being pitched to group ticket sales people. He was very funny. Beside, he grabbed my hand in a soul grip as he walked by. This was the first of many celebrity sightings we had on this trip.

After the comedy, we went to the art galleries in Chelsea for a different sort of laugh. We started at the Hotel Chelsea which is both a hotel and a gallery. Yes, it is THAT Chelsea Hotel (“I stayed up all night, in the Chelsea Hotel, writing Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you”) Disconcerting.

Then we visited Sonnabend. Scary and disturbing.

Paula Cooper.
Max Protech
Mary Boone
Pace Wilderstein

That evening we saw Spamalot. It is the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was really very silly. But we did sit across the aisle from Alice Cooper! I must admit we did not know who he was. But the people in front of us did. The funny part of that story is that the woman was there with her brother, as she and her boyfriend had a big fight that day. The boyfriend is a huge fan of Alice Cooper. He (Alice) volunteered to call the boyfriend to rub it in for the woman. Ha!

We ate supper at Angus McIndoe. A hot spot for the theater crowd.

NYC Day One

We left Houston in good time and arrived at the airport when we should have. We had relatively good seats (exit row – I should say excellent seats for me, just OK for Doreen as I had no seat immediately in front of me, but she had to sit in the middle seat) and the flight was uneventful.

We got in a cab that had the smell of a stale men’s locker room at the end of a long week. That was not really too much fun. But we got to the place we were staying (a b&b type hotel called the Inn New York we stayed in the Vermont Suite) without any difficulty.

We checked in and decided to take a walk through Central Park. It was a very pleasant day, and we had a great time. The birders who keep constant watch on Pale Male were in the park, and graciously let us look through a scope at him standing on an aerial some distance from his nest. It was a nice walk.

We returned to the apartment for a quick nap before venturing out to Café Boulud, one of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants. We met Jack Thomas there, one of Doreen’s college buddies.

We met at about 8:00, and Jack came by minutes later. We had just received our drinks (a martini for me, a cup of Champagne for Doreen) when Jack sat down. He got a martini as well, and we started chatting.

Several minutes later the waiter came by, and we asked about the Tasting Menu. She didn’t describe it all that well, and sent off for the Captain. He came by and warned us that it would take at least two and a half hours to eat our way through the tasting. We didn’t mind, and asked if they had a flight of wines ready to go with it. They sent off for the sommelier, and he assured us they did.

I won’t even attempt to describe the meal here. Mainly because I can’t remember much of it. Suffice it to say that we spent four hours in the restaurant, ate an amazing variety of wonderful food, and drank what seemed like gallons of high class wine that was suited to the food we had. What a treat.