Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Move

Friday was my last day of teaching, and though it was said to say goodbye to my wonderful students, I am very ready for this move to happen. Well, psychologically. Technically, my apartment is a mess of boxes, trash, and piles of clothes, and I'm nowhere near done packing.

I can't really remember if packing everything up last Spring and moving was more or less difficult, but for some reason, it has been exhausting! I've pretty much figured out where everything is headed---there are many directions---some things to be stored in New York for my new apartment, some things to be opened in New York and used while I live with Mom and Dad, some things back to Dinsmore, some things to other friends in Charlottesville, and not too much to the trash.

Yesterday was a big day in the process. I brought my herb garden (yes, I've been growing and using a personal herb garden this year, making great use of my floor to ceiling windows) over to Serena and Elaine's and was actually quite sad to see it go. I had debated bringing it up, but knew it would be a disaster in the car and well, I didn't feel like holding it on my lap the whole way up. Alas, I'll be fresh-herb-free until next summer.

Andrew and Brad also came to pick up my couch and bring it back to Dinsmore. Many of you may know these couches well. I took the small one (if you could call it small) to my apartment downtown for the semester, but decided that it's true home was Dinsmore, not New York. So there was a great reunion of the two couches back at their home yesterday. We had a Christmas/Hannukah Dinner at Dinsmore last night with delicious beef stew, sauteed leeks, garlic bread and kugel, and I think everyone was pretty happy to have the couches back together. Plus, as everyone who's ever slept over knows, the small one is by far the more comfortable bed.

Today I'm going to tackle my clothes. This is the real difficulty in dividing up, because I need to separate clothes for the next 2 days of moving from clothes to wear in New York the next week from clothes I'll need in New York the entire winter from clothes that I won't need until the summer and can keep packed up. So, needless to say, many more piles will be created throughout the day.

Tomorrow, Mom comes down to help out. I've delegated her to the china portion of the packing, since she graciously donated her china to my apartment and I have no desire to be the cause of it all breaking during its return. Monday night/Tuesday morning the movers are coming to take everything. Tuesday, my bedroom furniture is being transported over to the McLean's house, for Liz's apartment next year. And then on Wednesday, we drive back home.

Why I decided to outline my moving schedule for this blog post, I have no idea. Well, I do. It's to waste time and put off the actual packing tasks I've now outlined for the day. This is probably the least thrilling post I've written, but at this point, I'm just ready to get moving. I'm not sure how this blog will transform as I make my way north and (hopefully) into the working world. For the next month or so, I'm sure I'll just fill it with Holiday musings and stories about being unemployed and moving back into a bedroom covered in U2, Phish, and Dawson's Creek posters. Plenty of amusement ahead, I'm sure.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Field Trip!

Second graders at my school have traditionally gone to see the Grand Caverns as their fall field trip. Since there is an unavoidable lack in attendance and if not, attention, coming from 7 and 8 year olds the day before Thanksgiving Break, we decided to schedule the big trip for this past Tuesday. A perfect plan to ease minds of parents taking their children out of school to see Grandma, and to ensure that instruction is not missed by misbehaving students going wild that a 5-day weekend is about to begin. Of course, we failed to anticipate the heavy snowfall that occurred on our outdoor field trip!

Though I've been in Charlottesville for 5 years, this was the first I'd heard of the Grand Caverns, which are over near Waynesboro. The Grand Caverns are enormous caves found inside of a large mountain over 200 years ago, and they were actually quite fascinating. The stalagmites (as in, they MIGHT some day reach the top) and stalagtites (as in, they hold on TIGHT to the ceiling) were absolutely stunning, as were the many shield formations, columns, reflection pools, and calacite coverings. It was really fascinating that such a world exists inside of a mountain!!

Of course, those of you who know me well will be asking these questions: Calvine, aren't you extremely claustrophobic? And don't you get motion sickness with the drop of a hat in the backseat of a sedan, let alone bus? Yes and yes. I stumbled off the bus, feeling absolutely awful, but managed to keep the kids in line. I was quite disappointed that we had to sit in the back of the bus with the students, since I remember teachers getting the lame (but less bumpy!) front end! I also squeezed tightly (you know, to make sure they were ok) the hands of my students when we experiences "cave darkness" and turned off all of the lights. And I threw up in my mouth a little bit when the tour guide said, about 50 minutes into the hike inside the cave, "look up at the ceiling. It is 100 feet above you. 100 feet above that is the ground." Needless to say, fresh air was very welcome!

Of course, our picnic-ing plans (in the much-needed fresh air) were foiled when a snowstorm hit mid-bite of my egg salad sandwich. It was actually somewhat welcome, as most of our fingers were about to fall off because it was so cold. We quickly wrapped everything up, hopped back on the bus, and braved the blizzard back to school! The second half of lunch was eaten at our desks while the students worked on their new Grand Caverns coloring books.

When the bell rang at 2:20, I hugged my kids goodbye, wished them a Happy Thanksgiving, and downed a Diet Coke ASAP. I was exhausted! Field trips were just as I'd remembered them -- physically uncomfortable but the perfect way to get out of school for a day! Everyone was excited and the kids really enjoyed it. I won't go into the curriculum connection because, well, there isn't much of one, but promoting curiousity and exploration is really important for young students, many of whom do not have experiences like field trips outside of school. I drove out of school that day with an "I survived the 2nd grade Field Trip!" smile across my face and headed to the airport for my own much-needed Thanksgiving Break.

For more information on the Grand Caverns:

Monday, October 27, 2008

53 Months in Charlottesville

Yesterday, the Travel section of the New York Times ran its "36 Hours in..." column on Charlottesville. You can only imagine my excitement as I came upon it, sitting in my one-bedroom apartment, drinking tea on a sunny Sunday morning (/afternoon...) all by Charlottesville!

The column breaks down a weekend in a different city/town/neighborhood every week, and it is actually a really fun read. I tend to want to save them (only to remember that they are all accessible online) for future weekend-getaway planning. To give you a sense of scope, however, last Sunday's column was "36 hours in Paris."

Ahh, the inevitable Charlottesville vs. Paris vs. New York argument. So common amongst haughty Charlottesvillians! There is a store on the Downtown Mall (actually a really great store), Caspari, that lists on its windows: "CASPARI: New York - Paris - London - Charlottesville." The classic joke. You know, because those four cities are practically one in the same. Totally on the same level.

Well, Caspari really does have stores in just those four cities (actually, though, I just found out, there one in Tokyo too), and the Times really does run profiles on Charlottesville. The article was thoughtful, and I generally agree with the daytime suggestions: a walk on the Downtown Mall, wine tasting at Barboursville, a visit to Monticello, a Saturday morning visit to the Lawn, etc. But my main issue with the review (which came off as weak because of this) was its lack of focus on the fantastic restaurants in Charlottesville. Sure, it hit Feast (the greatest lunch spot ever), but its dinners were the Clifton Inn and some place I'd never heard of in Barboursville. Really?? Have you ever heard of MAS???

Well, clearly, no. One day, I'll write my own "36 Hours in Charlottesville," and in detail describe the delicious options that you have for dinner... Ten, Mas, Blue Light, The Upstairs, Zocalo, C&O (seriously I can't believed they missed C&O), Duner's, OXO (RIP), South Street, even the Virginian!!! All I have to say is, if you really want a romantic and/or fun weekend escape to Charlottesville, Virginia--which I'd highly recommend--ask me, not the Times. I've spent 53 months here. A lot longer than 36 hours.

The article can be found here: and I welcome all commentary on it from all of you current and former Charlottesvillians.

With that, I will end this post with an announcement: I will officially be moving to New York in December. Though I love Charlottesville, I am thrilled to finally be making the move back up north. I am very happy about my decision and am so looking forward to settling into the city! Hopefully this will mean seeing many more of you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Apple Adventures

Bowen was in town this weekend, and since it was a beautiful Indian Summer of a Saturday, we decided to seize the day and go Apple picking!

Ahh apple picking, we were thinking. What a relaxing, enjoyable, delicious activity to do in the fall. We planned to go an a hike in the afternoon, so this would just be a brief stop off before that. I'd driven by that "Pick your Own Apples" handpainted sign on the way to Monticello and some of the vineyards in the eastern part of town (only about 5 minutes from my apartment) and figured it would be an easy thing to do. Well, clearly we needed a slap in the face, because apple picking was neither brief nor easy. It was a whole-hearted adventure.

Turns out that not only had we chosen the Disneyland of Apple Orchards, we'd done so during their "Apple Harvest Festival" weekend, which also coincides with the Saturday two weeks before Halloween (i.e. ideal pumpkin purchasing time). So, there was nothing leisurely about this.

As we made the turn by the sign, we were met by a man in the road who handed us a map. "A map? How cute," we thought to ourselves, "we'll know where to find which kind of apples," not realizing that this was the first sign of many that this was more than a "cute" day at the orchard. As we wound our way slowly up the mountain (it took about 15 minutes, very windy), we started to realize that there were a heck of a lot of cards coming at us, on their way down the mountain. They were coming in droves by the hundreds, and we just could not figure it out. How many people could really be apple picking that there was this fast of a turnaround?? Ha.

Turns out, it was a complete zoo. Think Playland on a sunny Saturday in July. Took about 20 minutes to find a parking spot, weaving through the hundreds (literally) of cars and thousands (literally) of people. Strollers, wagons, babies, grandparents, families of 20, you name it, they were there. It was packed. Who were all these people? I have no idea and still cannot figure it out. They must have been coming in from all over the state! It was a holiday weekend, so all of the UVA students were out of town, plus there was a UVA football game going on, so all Charlottesvillians who enjoy UVA football were there. These people, whoever they were, there were a lot of them.

The festival was huge. 200 person lines for hot dog stands, doughnut stands, hayrides, bathrooms, tent vendors, pumpkins, everything!! You could barely navigate the place. We grabbed our bags and ran into the orchards, trying to hunt for apples as far from other people as possible.

Luckily, the actual orchards were fantastic. They were only semi-crowded, and if you went just a little bit farther into them than the other families, the apples were abundant. Oh, right, the apples. They were delicious!! We tried every type they had (we each probably ate 9 apples in 2 hours) and picked our favorites -- Golden Delicious, Fuji, York, and Granny Smith. Each apple was juicier than the last, and there's something about eating them while wandering the orchard picking them that makes them taste just that much better.

We ended up with 4 pounds of apples and avoided all lines. One of the highlights of this place (Carter Mountain, by the way) is the view. You are way up on top of the mountain, overlooking Charlottesville. It was absolutely stunning! All in all, the drama was well worth the wholesome fun. We really had a great time and will certainly be laughing about the completely unbelievable crowds for years to come. I honestly had no idea that apple picking could be comparable in hecticness to the Bronx Zoo. Well, the Bronx Zoo with a very southern twist.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Up in Flames

So, I have a story to tell about a pair of boots that I ordered online a few weeks ago. I'll preface this by reminding everyone that I am a frequent online shopper, due to the fact that I live in Charlottesville, VA. So I ordered the boots online, after much research and decision making.

On September 23rd, I got the email from Neimans that they'd shipped. "Perfect!" I thought, "they might even make it in time for the Harriman Cup on the 27th!" Well, they didn't make it. And they didn't make it in time for this weekend, either. Very suspicious.

I got onto to investigate. Yep, still sent from Texas on the 23rd. Currently "in transit." Well, that's bizarre, because unless they were arriving by foot, they should have gotten here a week ago. So I call Fedex. This package has been flagged. "Flagged?" I ask, thinking that was NOT a good sign. "Yes," said Nick of Fedex, "and actually Ms. Dunnan, there's more information here. The Fedex truck that your package was traveling on happened to catch on fire en route from Texas to the East Coast, so that's why it was never delivered." WHAT!!!

I know, talk about a freak accident! I almost went into shock. I felt like Brad in the Rachel Zoe project during that episode where the dresses were stuck in Tennessee, but much worse. My boots weren't stuck in Texas, they were burned in Texas! Destroyed! Was this some sort of sign? Had I chosen the wrong pair of boots??

After much confused laughter and disbelief, I called Neimans the next day. The lady was hilarious. "Ahh yes, ma'am, the old fire on the Fedex Truck issue. We had a number of packages on this truck. " (The fedex guy claimed there were anywhere from 1200-1900 packages on the trailer). So, no, this story does not end all that happily. The boots were no longer in stock, so I couldn't even pull my planned "Well, you should at LEAST overnight them to me for the inconvenience!" schpeal. I just had to accept the credit and move on (to another website for the boots, of course).

Ah, drama. I still can't believe this happened. A freak Fedex truck fire in Texas burned my beautiful boots to a crisp?

The Upstairs

Friday night, Andrews parents took us to a new restaurant on the Downtown Mall called The Upstairs. It's a Ten-style doorway, leading up to a newly decorated restaurant above Escafe, down by the Omni. It was absolutely fantastic and I am highly recommending it!

When we first walked in, it was totally empty minus one table of three older men. At 8:30 on a Friday night, we were (needless to say) a little tentative about the choice. Nevertheless, they were very kind, led us to our table (good thing we got reservations...) and acted as if it was not weird at all that the restaurant was empty.

OK - all strangeness ended there, as we began one of the most delicious dinners I've had in a long time. The menu consists mostly of seafood (scallops, crab cakes, salmon), french delicacies (sweet breads, foie gras, etc.) and steaks. I quickly decided on a tenderloin, and for my sides ordered garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. I started with the House salad. I mean, the restaurant was empty, I played safe.

The food was out of this world. The salad was simple yet elegant, the steak was cooked absolutely perfectly, and the mushrooms and potatoes were melt in your mouth. Everyone at the table was in heaven with each dish we had. The crabcakes were a particularly big hit, as was the roasted cinnamon butternut squash side that Andrew had. The whole meal was SO delicious. We left promising each other to talk up the restaurant to anyone and everyone.

A meal like this, to me, is so Charlottesville. Nothing is ever completely normal, or smooth, or what you would expect, but everything is high-quality, genuine, and worth the quirks. Empty restaurant? Who even cares - the food was delicious. And we had great service!

For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Various Recommendations

Here are some things I've been reading/watching/listening to/seeing lately...

Spain...On the Road Again - A PBS miniseries following Mario Batali, Gwenyth Paltrow, Mark Bittman and Claudia Bassols as they drive around Spain in convertibles, searching for delicious food and enjoying Spain's culture. It just premiered last week, and I know, the cast is fantastic. It's casual, light, and very enjoyable. You can also log onto the website for various recipes and extras.

Drawing Babar - The new show at the Morgan Library, featuring original watercolors from the Babar series. They are SO wonderful. Be sure to grab lunch at the Cafe after!

The Sharper the Knife, the Less you Cry, by Kathleen Flinn - The book I just finished, written by a woman who lost her job, and picked up to go to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. Everyone's dream! Though it toys with some cheesy parts (particularly since her boyfriend came with her), the writing is good and reading about the school is fantastic! She takes Basic, Intermediate, and Superior Cuisines (each a semester) to earn a diploma. It also mixes in recipes.

iTunes Genius - This may or may not beat out the app for greatest Apple feature. If you download the new version of iTunes, you can now highlight a song you want to listen to, click a button, and voila! A whole playlist, based on that song, is created for you from your library. It has changed the way I listen to music, and I've loved how it pulls out songs I haven't thought about listening to in years. I feel like this is one of those technology things you used to imagine would be cool, but never thought could happen. It did!

Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield - Essentially a B-version of High Fidelity, the real draw of this book (which is about music and love and loss in the 90's) is that it takes place in Charlottesville! I'm only through the first chapter, and he's already talked about Tokyo Rose and Plan 9. Sick! (N.B. As I've only gotten through the first chapter, this might not be a true recommendation, but updates on quality to come...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jeff Koons Versailles: Reaction

My brother is studying in Florence this semester.  This past weekend he went to Paris, so of course I recommended he beeline it to Versailles.  His reaction: 

"The next day we went to Versailles, which needless to say is pretty amazing... Sadly to say Calvine, Jeff Koons did a nice job of ruining many of the rooms.  Simply to say  a Michael Jackson piece does not belong in the room of Apollo."

Ah, opinions.  Love your reaction, Morg.  Wish I had gone with you to argue my own point! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jeff Koons Versailles

One of my favorite days in Paris this March was our trip to Versailles, and one of my favorite days in New York this Spring was our night at the Met's Jeff Koons on the Roof exhibit.  They have now been combined (minus the whole Calvine being there aspect).  

Jeff Koons currently has a retrospective (his first full one) at Versailles--in the actual palace and on the grounds.  Though Versailles often installs specific shows (there was one on antique silver when I was there in March), they rarely focus on contemporary artists and if they do, they are shunned to random rooms.   Not this time. There is currently a balloon dog in the Hall of Mirrors.  Amazing. 

The combination of contemporary and historic or classic art (particularly architecture) is something I find fascinating and wonderful.  Bizarre, controversial, and epic, shows like this one question progress and changes in aesthetic opinion over time by (mis)placing contemporary pieces in antiquarian settings.  The article about the Koons retrospective in Sunday's Times focused primarily on French hatred of the show (there were many demonstrators at its opening), but made one point that really stood out to me: Louis XIV would have loved Balloon Dog.  It is new, it is large, it is imposing, flashy, awesome, bizarre, and expensive.  It is of the time and of the future.  The Sun King, if living now, would indulge in artwork like that of Koons and Damien Hirst (you know that diamond skull would have been in his palace in seconds).  

I think the decision to bring contemporary art to spaces like Versailles is forward-thinking and fantastic.  I wish I could make it to see this fantastic wedding of old and new, but a trip to Paris by its closing in December is not exactly possible.  If you are in Europe at all over the next few months, PLEASE go see this exhibit---and send pictures.  I'm thrilled that this is happening.
The NY Times Article (Photos from the NY Times Slideshow)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Go to Ventana

I briefly mentioned the bar Ventana in my previous post, but after grabbing drinks there again last night, I realized that it necessitated a full blog post. It is simply fantastic.

Ventana is located on 5th street SE, where Kiki used to be. Kiki prided itself on drinks made with fresh fruit--so fresh that it took approximately 18 minutes for the one bartender to create each drink. It was shortlived. Ventana has definitely kept the fresh aspect going, but is ten times more efficient. People without much patience (me) require this of a good bar. Also, Serena has now introduced me to the owner and the main bartender, so we can really expedite the process.

Ventana has a very creative drink list--from Mango Ginger and Rosemary Grapefruit Martinis, to Cucumber and Jalapeno Margaritas. They even have this odd seafoam concoction that they top drinks with (sort of like a latte) instead of putting salt on rims. Inventive, yes, over the top, maybe, but delicious? Absoltely. I've loved every drink I've tried there--especially the Rosemary Grapefruit, and the Bellini (made with fresh peaches).

I've yet to try the food (they have a Mexican-style menu), but word on the street is that it is delicious. The atmosphere is also great--extremely low key (we still stuck out a little bit in our heels last night, but I will continue to wear them), with great music, comfortable seating, and interesting people. Oh, and there's a live video feed in the bathroom so you can watch what's happening in the bar. We had a really great group last night, and Ventana was just the perfect place to be.

The icing on the cake? They were playing the Flight of the Conchords soundtrack.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Charlottesville Fashion Week

What? You haven't heard of Charlottesville Fashion Week? You're in New York, hanging out with Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, and Zac Posen? Psshhh, why would you want to do that when you can be in Central Virginia?!?!!!

Needless to say, morale is low in this part of the woods this week, particularly for those of us with a fondness towards fashion and anything New York. Yes, in fact, the whole month is destined to go downhill, as we longingly watch videos of shows streaming from Paris and Milan on our not even all that fast Charlottesville internet. Don't even mention the word "party."

Last night, Andrew, Serena, and I headed out on the town to lift spirits and distract from thoughts of separation from the excitement in New York. We had a great dinner at The Local in Belmont, then wandered over to the mall to hit the bars. After three failures (empty Ten, couples night at Zocalo, and Bachelorette Penis Hats at Blue Light), we ended up at Ventana, actually a really great bar with delicious drinks (Rosemary Grapefruit Martini? Yes, please). While completely failing to lift ourselves from Fashion Week Depression, we invited the pirate-patched bartender to have a drink with us (yes, this story is 100% true). His first question: "Why are you all so dressed up? Did you have some event?"

THIS is the problem with Charlottesville: we were not dressed up. I had on jeans and heels with a casual blouse and cardigan; Serena was in linen shorts, a tank top, and heels; Andrew had on leather leggings (I know, kill him now) and a flannel shirt (note this extreme seasonal oddity at his and Serena's outfits). Normal, I'd say, for going out to dinner and grabbing drinks after on a SATURDAY night! If we were in any city, even DC, this would be dressed down. But no, we stuck out like sore thumbs amidst Lacoste shirts and hippie skirts. It was as if You're Not at Fashion Week was flashing in lights.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it is blinding, neon, and flashing: STYLE.COM IPHONE APP. The greatest thing ever invented. You can see all the shows in crystal clear images (zoom in too!) and flip through them, oh, I'd say 350 times quicker than if you were using their obnoxious slideshow feature online. Everything is updated as soon as the site is, and it even feeds in Style File Blog! It is absolutely the greatest thing to happen to Fashion Week, to Style.Com, to Ipods everywhere, and particularly, to those of us in Charlottesville, VA.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Spiders and Spirals

Yesterday morning, I went to see the Louise Bourgeois retrospective at the Guggenheim. Bourgeois has never been any sort of favorite of mine, but the large spider statues (particularly the one Andrew and I ran into in the Tuilleries in Paris this March) have always intrigued me. The show has gotten great reviews, and the shows of late at the Guggenheim have been particularly impressive, so I was definitely looking forward to learning more and seeing the exhibit.

Overall, it did not disappoint. What stood out to me the most was not necessarily the art itself, but the actual exhibition: the art looked stunning in the Guggenheim building. The soft, cool curves of the building really played well with her understated, undulating sculptures. The show was presented chronologically, so as you climb the spiral, you work your way from her paintings of the 1940's (who knew she ever painted?) to her sculptures of today at the top. It was a wonderful walk up.
I decided against doing the audio tour, even though I was on my own, because I wanted to try to understand the development of her work on my own, simply through the work itself and wall text. The beauty of the chronological design was that I succeeded. Well, I certainly don't feel like I'm an expert, but I felt like I got it. I enjoyed seeing her original forays into domestic space, and how those themes seemed to disappear while she explored gender and the body, but reappeared in connection with these themes later on. I enjoyed her installations on Ramps 5 and 6 (near the top) the most. She set up these sort of enclosed spaces with still scenes on the inside, examining and including many of her thoughts on gender, domesticity, and making (insert spider theme/connection here: Bourgeois is most known these days for her spider sculptures). They were intimate and beautiful.

Anyway, I fully enjoyed my exploration of the exhibit and wandering of the Museum's ramps. I still stand to my original description of the show, that the space really helped the pieces to shine. I still won't call myself a die-hard Bourgeois fan (the sculptures on their own were sometimes easy to walk by without stopping to look further, which is my way of deciding if I like a piece), but there was something very beautiful about the way her pieces sat in this building. I highly recommend going - the show is up through the end of September.

N.B. For all of you (Wright) who complain about working during the week and being stuck with Saturday crowds when you visit a Museum, I want to point out that the Museum was extremely hectic and crowded with foreign visitors and large camp groups that made it just as annoying at noon on a Tuesday as 3pm on a Saturday . So don't get down about weekend crowds, I think there's no avoiding them when you're seeing a quality show!

For more information:

Monday, July 07, 2008

Latin American (Costa Rican) Food and/or Cooking Day Four

Hola! I am back from Costa Rica and ready to continue my reflections on Cooking School and everything else that's been going on.  While I'm on such a food binge with these posts (I've also just read the book "Best Food Writing 2007," which I highly recommend), I can't help but write about the food in Costa Rica - it was absolutely delicious! As a non-fish eater, I was a little nervous about the selection, and feared I'd end up on a rice and beans diet, but I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of food served and the care with which it was cooked.  

The typical Costa Rican breakfast is called a "Gallo Pinto," or "colored rooster," and consisted of rice and beans sauteed with peppers and onions, alongside scrambled or fried eggs.  At both of the places we stayed, this was a big hit - and the first hotel even topped it off with sausage and fried plantains!  It was a tasty and filling meal, perfect to start a day of hiking and exploring the rainforest.  Our lunches varied, but were always delicious.  We had burritos, sandwiches, rice and vegetables, and even pizza - made with delicious sauteed vegetables and meats underneath the melted cheese!  Dinners also varied, and continued to have a latin feel, but reminded me of meals I cook at home - steak and vegetables, pork chop and potatoes, chicken kebabs, etc.  

Overall, the food was a lot less spicy than I was expecting.  I always think of Central American food as having that southwest-mexican chili taste, but we really did not encounter that often.  There were specialty sauces you could add (ask Wright about Lizano, the smoky brown sauce he poured on top of every bite he ate), and some were hot, but in general the food was more about fresh flavors, and focused on fruits and marinades more than bold spices.  I was pleasantly surprised, and reminded, again, that our vision of international food in America is often not very authentic.  

The fourth day of cooking school centered around Latin Cooking, so I considered it a preparation for Costa Rica.  It had more of a Mexican than Costa Rican feel to it, mostly because our walking tour of the day was up in Spanish Harlem, to a number of Mexican bodegas, where we picked up various types of chilis and vegetables that I'd never seen before.  Our chef, Richard Reuben, was enthusiastic about everything and especially loved chilis, so he was a great resource.  
Back at the school, we cooked a number of dishes, including lamb with a green chili sauce, a chili cabbage salad, potatoes with herbs and queso fresca, rice and beans (of course), fried plantains, and a wonderful coconut flan for dessert (Part of our buffet is pictured above). The highlight, though, was a Chicken Mole that just melted in your mouth (in the large pot in the picture).  I'd never made a mole before (mole means "concoction," and essentially is anything that blends different flavors together; guacamole, then, is an avocado concoction), and can't take full credit for the one we made in class, but I was captivated by the melding of flavors (there was a list of about 20 ingredients including different chilis, spices, tomato, chocolate, etc.) into an indescribable sauce that cooked into the pulled chicken so well.  I can't wait to make one on my own when I get back to Charlottesville (it's an extremely messy procedure, so I don't think Mom's white kitchen walls would appreciate my experiment).  It also freezes well, so Richard recommended making a big batch, then freezing portions and eating it over a month or so (again, the mess would not be worth making this on any sort of regular basis).  

Our meal was delicious, and got me very excited for Costa Rica, where I didn't exactly use my newfound knowledge of chilis, but I certainly appreciated every meal I had! 

Friday, June 27, 2008

We Interrupt this Program...

Obviously, I'm a little behind on writing about the cooking class.  Everything has just been so overwhelmingly wonderful this week (I've really had the best time and am so glad I chose this as my graduation present) that I've hardly had time to post.  Well, in all honesty, I've just been eating too much to post! 

Anyway, I'm headed to Costa Rica tomorrow with Wright so I will abruptly stop my Cooking updates and continue them upon my return, next Sunday July 6. 

So that you can imagine where I am all week, here is a brief outline of our trip: 

We're flying into San Jose tomorrow morning, and immediately renting a car to drive down the Pacific Coast to Manuel Antonio, a town in between Jaco (surfers) and Quepos, and right next to Manuel Antonio National Park.  We're staying at a beach resortish type place to spend a few days relaxing.  We're then driving the rest of the way down the Pacific Coast all the way to the bottom of the Osa Peninsula.  This area is supposed to be much less touristy and more untouched--thick rainforests with a large diversity of birds and mammals.  Should be much more rustic than the first place, but hopefully Wright will protect me from any scorpions in our bungalow! It should be a really great trip, and I will certainly be writing about it when we get back.  

Cooking Day Three: Italian

We started off Wednesday with an even more luxurious breakfast - Italian pastries at Ferrara's in Little Italy.  The restaurant has been there for over 100 years (back when Little Italy wasn't quite as little) serving delicious Italian food, and most notably, pastries.  Unlike yesterday's chocolate croissants, which we could justify as somewhat breakfast-related, these pastries were 100% desserts.  We ate scrumptious chocolate-dipped cannolis and creme-filled sfogiarellas and chocolate mousse chimineras at 10am with no regrets! Mmmmm what a delicious way to start off Italian day! 

Chef Ron (who had also been the wine connoisseur leading our tasting on Monday) then led us through Little Italy to investigate all of the specialty shops.  He pointed out where to get the best meats, cheese, bread, fresh pasta and bread! Everything was homemade, Italian-style, and reasonably priced.  I'd highly recommend heading to Little Italy to pick up affordable and authentic fresh pastas.  Chef Ron gave us a full list of the different stores and their addresses so let me know if you want any of the information! 

We spent the afternoon cooking an absolutely amazing Italian four course meal.  For our antipasto, we put together trays of meats, vegetables, and cheeses that we picked up that morning, as well as made a Tuscan bean and tuna pasta salad. Chef Ron also led us in a wine pairing throughout the meal, so we had a nice dry Prosecco with this course.  The picture above shows the antipasto buffet, and Chef Ron getting ready with the wine!

For the pasta course, we made cheese ravioli (fresh from Little Italy!) with homemade tomato sauce, sausage cooked in tomato sauce, linguine with broccoli sauce, and spaghetti with shrimp sauce.  We paired with a Chianti.   The third course (yes, there is more - hard to believe, but true) consisted of sausage and mushrooms with a homemade polenta (be sure to have multiple hands to make this one - 20 mins of constant stirring makes for a very sore arm!), swordfish stewed in vegetables, and veal wrapped with prosciutto and sage.  My mouth is still watering - and this is all after the pastry breakfast! 

We completed the meal with a light and delicious Amaretto cake, which was much more successful than Tuesday's souffle, and we dolloped it with grand marnier whipped cream.  The perfect finish to a day of complete gluttony.  We had a great time acting like Italians and sitting around eating delicious food, drinking wine, and laughing with friends all afternoon.  The best day so far! 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cooking Day Two: French

On Tuesday morning, we met Food Historian/Chocolate Expert Alexandra Leaf at Payard Patisserie on the Upper East Side to start off the day.  She spoke to us about the history of French cuisine and its unique characteristics, the history of Payard Patisserie and its chef, Francois Payard, and about French pastries in general.  It was a mouthwatering discussion, but luckily there were baskets of every type of pastry made at Payard in front of us!  Alexandra encouraged us to try bits of each one, rather than each taking one or two for ourselves, and I gladly obliged.  A dream! Finally able to taste every pastry rather than having to choose! I tend to be an order regretter, so this was perfect. 

By the time we got out of there, we all had gained ten pounds and therefore chose to walk down to Bridge Kitchenware, on 45th, for our next event of the day.  Alexandra introduced us to this historic high-quality restaurant supply store, and we spoke for awhile to the owner.  Hearing the history of opening up a store that sells strainers, juicers, and cutting boards was not all that interesting, but hearing that we all got the 50% off moving sale price a day before the sale began was! We all pretty much went wild, and as much as I tried to constrain myself (since not only is my apartment tiny, but I am not even in Charlottesville!) I still ended up with new lemon and lime juicers, one of those basket scooper/strainers, and an olivewood mortar and pestle.  

Alexandra next led us down to Fleur de Sel, a tiny upscale French restaurant near Union Square.  There, we had a tasting menu, discussed French restaurants, met the Chef (who was so kind), and drank too much wine.  Ah to be French! Who knew we'd be hungry again after the pastry party that morning, but I cleaned each of my plates.  My favorite dish was a goat cheese and artichoke ravioli with a sweet beet sauce - total melt in your mouth.  The wine were were drinking (red, to go with the delicious braised short ribs) was a Pinot Noir from California, and though we thought the Sommelier was kidding at first, the vineyard was really called Trainwreck.  Yes, I felt like a trainwreck walking out of there, and was beginning to think I'd signed up for an eating course, not a cooking one.  Was I complaining? Absolutely not. 

We met up again at ICE at 6:30pm for the French cooking course.  All of this glutton stuff was about to change.  We cooked many courses with tough-loving Chef Jane: Sweet Pea Soup with Mint Creme Fraiche, Artichoke and Leek Salad, Asparagus and Onion Tart, Duck Confit with Grilled Endive and Radicchio, Braised Oxtail with Root Vegetables, and Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake.  I know.  We all went over the techniques and recipes together, but then split up into groups for the actual cooking of the meal.  Not only was I immediately assigned oxtail (uh...lovely), I also got the ultimate Top Chef nightmare: Souffle.  

It was pandemonium. With only four hours,  getting the oxtail braising had to be immediate, so my group was going nuts getting the vegetables prepared and the meat browned.  We also had to start melting the chocolate, separating the eggs, and prepping the pan as soon as possible, since the beating of the egg whites and folding them into the chocolate was not exactly going to be a breeze.  And it wasn't.  We survived, however, and though one of the souffle's neither rose nor fall, the other actually worked!  (We attribute this to an oven not being calibrated correctly, since they were made with the same batter, just different ovens). 

The meal was heaven--pounds of butter were put into every dish, and by the time we sat down (around 10pm) we were famished and dying for a glass of wine.  We had a great time with a long and delicious meal.  The highlight was definitely the Asparagus and Onion tart, and the duck was great as well.  I fell right into bed that night, overfed and overworked! 

Again, let me know if you want any recipes--we got a whole book with all of them, and I of course took extensive notes.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cooking Day One: Knife Skills/Chinese/Wine

This week, I'm taking a full time class at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in the city as my graduation present from my parents.  The class is called "Cooking in New York: A Global Culinary Adventure," and consists of walking tours, restaurant visits, wine tastings, and, of course, cooking classes at the school. Each day centers around a specific cuisine: Chinese, French, Italian, Latin, and American.  Today, the first day, was Chinese. 

Fifteen of us arrived at the school (in the Flatiron area) at 9:30am this morning.  I wasn't really sure who else to expect in the class, but since it takes place full-time for a week, it had to be people either on vacation or not working; my only guess was students like myself off for the summer or stay at home moms, but neither were prominent.  It actually consisted mostly of non-New Yorkers, in town to explore the city for an extended period and wanting to do this as part of their visit.  There were also a few students or recent graduates, some older couples, and even some burnt out ex-bankers taking a few months off from their hectic lives. Most people were there alone and everyone seemed motivated and excited. 

We began with a two and a half hour session on knife skills.  Though I consider myself comfortable in the kitchen, I'd never really had a specific knife lesson before, and it was really interesting to think so specifically about the motions.  We spent quite some time cutting up various vegetables and learning the uses of different knives, but by the end we were all relieved that the week began this way: we felt increasingly comfortable with the cooking class dynamic and with our basic skills.  (Ha, we'll see what I say after tomorrow evening's French bistro dinner lesson!) 

For lunch, we went down to Chinatown and met our instructor (the same one as knife skills - Norman Weinstein) at Mandarin Court, on Mott St, just south of Canal.  I hadn't been to a Dim Sum lunch in awhile, and this was like Dim Sum on steroids! We had 18 different items, plus 4 desserts.  Most were some variation on chicken, pork, shrimp, vegetables in a dumpling, but we also had things like pork spare ribs (yum!) and chicken feet (no thank you...).  Our instructor explained each thing to us as it came out, helping us to pronounce it as well as explaining how it's made.  It was just "the tip of the iceberg of Dim Sum," as he described it, but we all could barely walk on our way out! 

Overwhelmed and overfed, we all stumbled out of Mandarin Court and followed Chef Weinstein for a brief walking tour of Chinatown's markets.  Yes, I closed my eyes, looked the other way, and pretended to have a coughing fit so I could stand outside during the fish market section.  Also, I now know to watch out with Chinese soups, they put a lot of dried ingredients in that you might not find so appetizing if only you knew!! It was great to venture into a cuisine that I enjoy eating, but I'm not exactly what one would call an "adventurous" eater, so many items and techniques seemed a little bizarre and gross to me. 

To finish up the day, we headed back to ICE for a two hour lecture on New World vs. Old World wines.  We tasted nine wines (yes, we were ready for a long nap by the time we even got to the third). Eight of them were from "new world" areas such as Oregon, New Zealand, Spain,  Australia, and California.  A few years ago, Wright and I did a wine tasting trip through Bordeaux (old world), so it was really great to get some more information on other areas.  I've also been (unfortunately or fortunately) getting used to wine tasting in Virginia, where the wines are cheap, and--I apologize to loyal Virginians--really not that good.  So it was fun to do a tasting with some nicer wines, most valued at over $50, and many aged for at least 5 years.  We even had a Spanish dessert wine from 1971 that, unlike the upchuck reflex dessert wines I've had at recent Charlottesville tastings, was actually quite good.  I'm not saying that I'm completely sold -- I'll always love a great St. Emilion -- but it was great to see an instructor who was interested in the history and development of these new world wines.  (No, Virginia was not mentioned once as being any part of any new or old world)

I got on the train exhausted and excited - what a day!! I can't wait until tomorrow, the French day, and will certainly keep the blog updated. Please let me know if you have any questions or want more information on the course or things we do.  ICE has been great with handouts and really given us a lot of literature on the various things we're doing, and I'd love to share.  

Friday, June 20, 2008


This morning, I met Andrew at the Met to see the Costume Institute's "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy Exhibit." I love going to see the shows that the Costume Institute - which is part of the Met and has an extensive collection of historic outfits, famous costumes, and notable couture - puts together because they have this great "Met" feel to them, as if you really are seeing an art exhibit, but they are centered around fashion. Recently, they've had some great exhibits, including "Blog:Mode," which featured technologically-inspired couture and encouraged audience pariticipation through a blog station; a collection of the Socialite Nan Kempner's clothes, which she donated to the Met upon her death (could this be considered a Retrospective?); and "Poiret: King of Fashion," which featured the early 20th-century designs of Paul Poiret.

"Superheroes" definitely had a different feel from the aforementioned exhibits. This was no Chanel Retrospective. (It also didn't take place in the Costume Institute's galleries, but instead, on the main floor off of the Greek and Roman Galleries). It was loud, flashy, and exciting. One might have expected that, from a show about Superheroes, but for some reason I didn't picture it quite as bright white and mirrored as it was. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic exhibit, with broad commercial appeal that hopefully will open more people up to the interesting things that the Costume Institute does. There were all sorts of characters in the exhibit - from little kids pretending to be Batman to older tourists wondering when they had left Ancient Greece and entered a comic book.

Since I'm hoping to go into Art Education, I'm always aware of the effectiveness of exhibitions' wall text and labels. Some museums tend to be minimalist in helping to educate a viewer about an exhibit, allowing them to interpret for themselves, while others are extremely enthusiastic and overload the viewer with information. I thought this exhibit did a great job of finding an intelligent balance. There was a brief introductory essay about the importance of Superheroes as they relate to our goals and values as humans and as a nation, and from there, the exhibit was split into eight displays, each with one accompanying wall text.

The essays were short enough that they didn't lose your interest, and well-written enough that you felt engaged with the ideas of the curators. After the introductory essay presented a broader view of the superhero within our culture, the themed essays looked at the outfits. Sections like "The Mutant Body," "The Graphic Body," "The Aerodynamic Body," and "The Armored Body," explored the different superheroes whose outfits fell into the category, and then attempted to summarize the creator's and viewer's perspectives on that superhero as it relates to their outfit. Each section contained (usually) one costume from a film (for example, they had Christopher Reeve's costume from Superman in the "Graphic" section, and Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman outfit in the "Paradoxical Body" section), as well as numerous couture ensembles from designers such as Balenciaga, Dolce and Gabbana, Pierre Cardin, and John Galiano.

I would highly recommend this show really for anyone. Seeing the actual costume that Wonder Woman wore is very cool, and so is seeing the designer outfits, each one more bizarre than the last. I don't even know if I can choose a favorite. Probably the "Paradoxical Body," (aka Catwoman) section. The curators did a great job at chronologically tracing the development of Superheroes (they've gone as up to date as "The Postmodern Body" and have included Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man costume in the "Armored" section) while at the same time pulling out themes and breaking down sections clearly. The couture choices are really smart and really fun to see, whether you enjoy high fashion or not. Another great exhibit from the Met!

For more information:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Johnny Damon

Yesterday, I cut off all of my hair.  It was a drastic move.  For those of you who haven't seen me of recent, I've kept my hair long to very long for most of college, culminating at its recent lengths.  I was averaging at least one "wow you're hair has gotten so long!" comment a day the past month and realized that something needed to be done.  Though I kept it healthy (I may have referred to it as a mop but I like to think that it was at least somewhat attractive), it was just getting heavy and annoying.  It was long. 

I've had it in my head for a few months that I needed to chop it.  Ok, honestly, I've been considering it since Katie Holmes chopped off her Joey Potter 'do and became the Katie we know today.  It was never a serious thought though, particularly as it became increasingly trendy to do so  (I keep a general rule to stay away from trends that consist of irreversible damage).  In the past few months, it came back on my radar as I thought about graduating from college.  What better time to make the move?  Shorter hair in general looks more professional, and my long ponytail was increasingly echoing my 4th grade look.  

So, I decided, I'd do it when I graduated.  If I hated it, I could think of it as a summer cut and it would all grow back by January, no big deal.  And who cared what my hair looked like while student teaching this fall? It was an exciting decision.  4 weeks after graduation rolled around, though, and there certainly was no hair appointment in my planner.  What finally did it?  I'm not completely sure, but it may have had something to do with the heat wave last week:  I was playing golf and had my hair in my usual ponytail.  Even though it was up, it was so long that I felt like I was wearing it completely down!  There wasn't a stray hair from the rubber band, yet strands were flying everywhere and getting in my face from around the back.  It was hot and gross and something had to be done.   

I succumbed to wearing a ponytail, then braiding the ponytail the next time I played.  How athletic, I thought to myself, cracking up at thinking of being even slightly athletic.  It looked lame, really lame.  So I called my old hairdresser, and hacked off a full foot.  

My hair is now just above my shoulders, and so far I love it.  There are moments of fear and doubt, and the feeling of running your hands through your hair and coming up with air is continually shocking. I'm staying at my house by myself this week so I actually didn't even have anyone to show it to for a full day, which was unbelievably nervewracking.  But it's exciting.  Can you tell its been on my mind?  Actually writing a full blog post about my hair - and I don't usually consider myself a very vain/looks-obsessed person - this is extremely self-indulgent, I am the first to admit!  But this is a big step for me.  I'm thrilled.  Irreversible Damage. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A word about this blog

I've realized that my blog is somewhat unorganized. Alas, being the detail-oriented, planning-obsessed person that I am, I've decided to sum up my blog into four categories, as not to present too random or unfocused blogging. The categories are: Art, Food, Travel, and Life.

Art is and always has been extremely important to me--I was an art major in college and have always enjoyed museums. In the future, I hope to go into Art Education of some sort. Most of the posts that fall under this category will consist of personal reviews of exhibitions I attend, as well as various thoughts on the practice of art and my own practice of art.

Food is another major category for two reasons: one, I love to eat (and love going out to eat), and two, I love to cook. In these posts, I hope to not only describe experiences (good and bad) at various restaurants, but also to describe my struggles and successes while cooking for myself. Next week, I'm off to cooking school - a week long intensive, my graduation present from my parents. Get excited for lots of detailed posts!

Travel is the third category, mainly because I think it is an important part of my life. I haven't exactly been everywhere, but I have been to lots of random places (true fact: I've never been to London but I've been to the Galapagos and Nairobi). These experiences have been very important to me and I intend to include them in my ramblings, as well as create specific posts about various travel experiences I go on. For example, in two weeks, I'm off to Costa Rica, and though I won't have internet while there, I'll hopefully take good enough notes and pictures to write about the trip after.

Life is the fourth category, because let's be honest, I need something all-encompassing. There will be various things I just want to ramble on about, so I will. This blog is entirely about my life. But I'll use it as the fourth category anyway.

Eventually I'll figure out some label system. For now, I'm just going to assume that different readers will enjoy different categories: those hoping to just be filled in on what in the world I'm up to, can focus on the Life posts, while those who share my passion for art or are looking for a good Museum recommendation, can pay attention to the Art sections. Let me know if this is helpful or not - I hope it will be.

Thanks for reading!
Love, Calvine


On Saturday, Wright and I decided to have a Museum day - one of our favorite things to do in the city. Usually they come after a long drought of museum-going, so as to make the whole day exciting and full of new exhibits. We scour New York and TONY to see what shows are on, and though we generally create a list of five, I tend to encourage sticking to just three museums in a day, so that we don't get too tired and can fully enjoy the experience.

This time, we decided on a simple, close-knit list: we'd first hit MoMA (on a Saturday, its very important to arrive there or at the Met right at the opening to avoid a complete disaster), then (much to Wright's eye-rolling) we'd go to the Henry Darger exhibit next door at the American Folk Art Museum, and finally, we'd walk down to the Morgan Library and have a late lunch. I'll split up this post into three sections, one for each stop.

We spent Friday night at my parent's house in Rye, and took an early train into Grand Central on Saturday morning. It was already getting hot out as we arrived at MoMA, around 11am (the Museum opens at 10:30, FYI). Luckily, it didn't seem that crowded yet, so we rushed right in. Wright and I were both printmakers at UVA, so we usually go strait to the Prints and Illustrated Books room, on the 2nd floor. They had an exhibit on the Art of the Book that I found satisfactory, Wright found lame. They had some great Ruscha lithos as well as various Duchamps, Roths, and Rauschenbergs. A small exhibit, worth a walk through if you're a printmaker or particularly like prints and books (I had thought Wright was included in this category...). Next we stopped into a geometric exhibit, which had a large set of colorful Rymans as well as some nice Kandinskys. I'm not really a huge geometric-art person, but it was another short exhibit that was worth a walk through.

Other than these shows, both very small, MoMA was quite disappointing. The 6th floor special exhibition galleries were closed for installation, so we did the usual run-through of the Painting and Sculpture floors. Wright and I have been to MoMA a lot in the three years that he has lived in the city (he works for JP Morgan, and therefore gets in for free with 4 guests as well - clutch for the $20 admission), so we always love walking through the Permanent Collection and pointing out to each other the various changes that have been made since the last time we were there, often arguing about whether or not they had that Jasper Johns in the left or the right corner previously.

Our other favorite game to play in Museums is the "Which one would you take?" game. In each room we go into, we choose which painting (or sculpture) we'd take if we could only have one. It's a fun game, because you have to balance wanting a piece that you love to look at with the one that might be the most valuable, or the one that might really make a statement when hung in a house. There are times when you love that tiny Derain in the corner, but at the end of the day, its in the same room as Starry Night, so you have to be reasonable about which one you'd really choose. At MoMA, we've both pretty much decided on our favorites in each room (often our opinions differ), but when we go to new Museums, its really a fun game. I'd recommend it, particularly at the end of a long Museum day when you are feeling lazy.

The American Folk Art Museum is right next to MoMA, but it is very different. A MUCH smaller museum (and, unfortunately, much less popular), Wright and I have had mixed experiences there. The first time I went was about two years ago, when my art professor, Dean Dass, told me about their large collection of Henry Darger drawings. Darger was a folk artist (defined as an artist who had no formal training) who died in the 1970's living alone in Chicago. When his landlord went to clean out his apartment (I don't think he had any family), he found stacks and stacks of books, drawings, and collages. Darger had written, on typewriter, multiple, long books, unbeknownst to anyone, and created hundreds of detailed, beautiful illustrations to go along with them. His central piece was 15,000 pages in length, accompanied by over 300 drawings. And no one had ever known this about him.
Though astounding, Darger's work and life story are also very creepy. The tale is an epic about the Vivian Girls, young sisters, who end up in a large and violent war. Many of his drawings were inspired by magazine and cartoon images, either copied or traced. One of the creepiest aspects of his work is that when he drew the girls naked, they had the anatomy of boys -- something that most people assume means that Darger had never seen a girl without her clothes on, and thus figured they looked like himself.

Darger's drawings are bizarre but wonderful, and I hope that you get the chance to see one in person after reading this, because they really are stunning. On view through September is an exhibit entitled Dargerism, which features many Dargers in comparison with the work of contemporary (non-folk) artists who have been inspired by him. The works by the contemporary artists were very interesting - they all work off of him in different ways (my favorite was Amy Cutler) - but, of course, the Dargers are the real draw. Wright and I both loved the exhibit and spent a long time looking at the works on display. No need for any games.

The Morgan Library and Museum is located on 36th and Madison and is truly wonderful. It was redone a few years ago, and is absolutely stunning. They have a gorgeous atrium, and its also fascinating to wander through some of J.P. Morgan's original home (including his office and library). Upstairs, they have exhibits, often featuring items from Morgan's original collection, ranging from original drawings for Alice in Wonderland, by C.S. Lewis, to Beethoven's workbooks, and more recently acquired items, like handwritten letters from Bob Dylan to Joan Baez.

The exhibits on display this Saturday were not worth mentioning, but not a problem, because the real draw of the Museum for Wright and I is the Cafe. Yes, I love art and I love history, but I can't help it - I love food and the food at the Morgan is delicious! The cafe is located in the Atrium entryway, and you do have to have admission to the Museum to go to it (another plus of Wright working for JP Morgan - we get in free. I'm pretty sure it's only about $7 for the non-member though). Wright and I usually split the Soup and Grilled Sandwich, as well as order the Herbed Fries with Brie Fondue. We did just that this time--it was a tomato soup, and turkey and swiss on multigrain grilled. Ugh, it was soo delicious! Wright also loves the Hemingway Daiquiri (yes, there are original manuscripts of many of Hemingway's books and his handwritten letters to Fitzgerald in the collection).

We had a great time on Saturday, even though the exhibits weren't exactly as spectacular as we were hoping for. Luckily, Darger made up for everything! And, most importantly, we just had a great time wandering the city together on a beautiful day.

For more information:

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Year of Still Here

On Thursday night, I saw Jimmy Buffett live in concert at Madison Square Garden. Dad got 8 tickets for the family (sold to him by a fanatic that even sent us a Buffett mixed tape for preparation) so Morgan took three friends, and Wright and I accompanied Mom and Dad for the other four seats.

In high school, I was a big concert person. I'd ballpark my concert attendance at over 40 or 50 during those four years - which includes at least 5 Allman Brothers, 4 Dave Matthews, and 5 Phish (there was also a Dave and Trey show). One might call me out for bragging, but these stats might be more on the embarrassing side of things. Anyway, I haven't been to very many concerts since I began college, minus the one summer I spent in Charlottesville when Norma and I ended up at the Pavillion most Friday nights, a great open-air amphitheater at the end of the downtown mall (see below post). I'll always love going though - there's something so fun about live music and beers. Well, duh.

Going to concerts with my parents has been more of a recent phenomenon - I think this is only the third time I've been to a show with them (the other two being Billy Joel in Charlottesville, and Kenny Chesney for my mom's 50th birthday). Jimmy Buffett was definitely the ideal concert to attend with parents. We all made frozen margaritas in the kitchen beforehand (the aforementioned mix cd playing throughout the house, obviously), and had fun dressing up Morgan's friends in Dad's old Hawaiian shirts. I met Wright in the city for another Marg beforehand, and we were at the concert by 8:15 (one of the main differences between attending a concert with your parents: you arrive on time - this may or may not be because the concerts you tend to go to with your parents actually start on time, while those you go to without tend to begin way past 9).

Anyway, we had a fantastic time. I was 0 for 4 on knowing the opening songs, while Wright was 1 for 4. Mom, who we found out was a former parrothead, was clocking in at 3 for 4 and from there knew the words to every one of the songs! I tended to sing the loudest during his covers (mom was not impressed at my glorious knowledge of "Brown Eyed Girl"), while Mom and Dad stood up during his classics. During the show, there was a video playing that chronicled Buffett's trip around the world over the past year, which read as a sort of Travel Channel meets Curb Your Enthusiasm extravaganza. He, of course, ended up in New York and riled the audience up with clips of the Giants winning the superbowl (I wonder how long until I stop tearing up at these?). The way I figured it, these videos served 2 purposes: 1) keep the older crowd amused, since many were not standing or dancing and clearly preferred watching TV, and 2) keep people like me, who only know the covers and his main three songs, at bay and feeling like they are sooo into it. Loved the videos.

The concert was a great choice by Dad, and I'd say we had 8 out of 8 feeling like they had a great time at the end of the night. To me, it doesn't really matter who you see in concert. It's always going to be good, and as long as you've got a good group and a beer (or, had a beer, if you are at Jones Beach or another dry concert arena), you're golden.

Addendum to Post--- My top 5 concerts ever, in no order:
1. Simon and Garfunkel at MSG (2003)
2. Elton John at MSG (2006)
3. Billy Joel at MSG (2006)
4. Rolling Stones at Hartford Civic Center (Strokes opener, 2002)
5. The first time I saw Phish (at MSG, 2003)
6. Ryan Adams at the Pavillion (2006)

(couldn't cut down to 5...)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hello, Downtown Charlottesville

This weekend, I moved from my apartment of 3 years to the downtown area of Charlottesville. It's been pretty hectic but I'm starting to feel somewhat settled, and have spent a couple nights in my new abode. It's a one bedroom apartment, located a block off the Downtown Mall - a central pedestrian street lined with restaurants and stores.

Exploring the Downtown Mall the past few days has been a great adventure. It is SO convenient to my apartment - literally a two minute walk, with no climbing over railroad tracks necessary, a la my previous apartment! The mall can be described in numerous ways. At its best, the mall is compared to a European city, as all of the restaurants have areas with plenty of outdoor seating. It can also be described as a people-watcher's dream. Or a fast walker's nightmare (That's me, the girl from New York pushing people out of the way). There are all kinds of people that wander the mall - my favorites being the friday night high school scene and the preschool classes that you'll catch walking hand in hand in a long line. There are musicians (some good, some bad), fortune tellers, pashmina salespeople, and everything else you can imagine. It's quite eclectic. Odd, yet amusing.

The restaurants on the mall will really be a highlight of living down here. Already since moving on Friday I've been to Eppie's for lunch, Java Java for breakfast (and for their internet...haven't gotten that hooked up yet!), and Ten for dinner. All are just a minute's walk, and absolutely delicious. There's some stat about Charlottesville having the most restaurants per capita of any town in the US. It could be a rumor spread among first year students, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were true. There are a lot of restaurants, and a lot on the Mall. Good news is, many of them are actually good restaurants!

I've been living in Charlottesville for four years now, and it still boggles my mind. There are so many great things about this city, but so many really odd things. Like gourmet gas stations. Or the creepy, corrupt towing business. Or the unbelievably counterintuitive traffic patterns. But I love the fact that if you drive in any direction for more than 10 or 15 minutes, you can suddenly find cows. "Oh right, I live in Central Virginia," you remind yourself every time this happens. I feel like I've gotten to know the town pretty well at this point, but I'm really excited to see what its like as a non-Corner-dweller. As hard as it may be, I'm definitely ready to avoid the Virginian and attempt to live like a real Charlottesvillian. "Well," I can say, "I live downtown, right by the mall." Very hip. Or wannabe European.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jeff Koons on the Roof

Saturday night, Wright and I enjoyed one of our favorite New York summer pastimes - drinks on the roof of the Met with friends. If you haven't been up there, I'd highly recommend it. They have it open during most Museum hours but I think it is best enjoyed with a Corona while the sun is setting. They set up a bar on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5:30-8:30.

The real show-stealer is the view. Set right in Central Park, the Met's view is a unique look at the city scape from the tops of the trees. Scanning out in all directions, you are surrounded by trees but, in true New York fashion, the tree line is then surrounded by skyscrapers. My art professor, Dean Dass, likens it to the opposite of "The Clearing" - a theory that insists humans have cleared a space to live in, carved out of the natural world. Alas, Central Park encompasses, counterintuitively, a space we've carved out of our world, for nature to live in. No matter your theory, however, Central Park is beautiful, especially from this view.

Last summer, the Roof featured a show of Frank Stella's sculptures. Though I am a fan of his early paintings, the allure of his work heads downhill quickly for me, and I wasn't a huge fan of the large-scale metal sculptures. This summer, however, they've installed three of Jeff Koons' sculptures--Balloon Dog (Yellow), Coloring Book, and Sacred Heart (Red/Gold). They are fantastic. Though Koons tends to be somewhat overrated, his art practice is fascinating. He employees hundreds in a factory, churning out large-scale sculptures like these, as well as smaller sculptures and paintings. His work mainly relies on imagery from pop culture--more vibrant and plastic than Warhol's images, though. His sculptures like these ones are certainly my favorite of his works.

These three pieces take small childhood schemas into large scale. Balloon Dog, which quickly takes the cake in this show, is an unbelievably well-done rendition of a balloon dog, but about 10 feet tall, and made entirely of metal. Seeing the piece on the roof was fantastic--but I do have to admit that I've seen a better version (He's made a few, in different colors). When I was in Venice two years ago, there was a contemporary art exhibit at the Palazzo Grassi, on the Grand Canal, and they placed one of Koons' Balloon Dogs right out on the water. It was shocking in comparison to the Venetian palaces that served as its background - absolutely fantastic!

Up on the roof, our conversation tended towards the Coloring Book piece the most, however. I'd never seen one of these before - it's an extremely tall, flat, reflective piece of metal with colored splotches on it. What caught our attention was the reflection--it was set up to create this mysterious illusion that it was see through, but really it was just a reflection. Gus finally figured out that it had to do with the white pedestal it was on, since its edge lined up with the reflection of its edge, making you think it kept going behind the sculpture.

The exhibit was great and I'm looking forward to spending more nights up there, particularly since the sculptures are so great this year. Definitely worth visiting!

For more information on the exhibit, and the Met's Roof, visit For more information on Jeff Koons, I'd recommend reading a fantastic Profile that the New Yorker did in April, 2007. The abstract, and images, can be found at

Friday, May 02, 2008

Postcards, 1947-1963

Though this blog won’t be entirely about art, I wanted to make my first entry about my Senior Art Show, which was up at the Off-Grounds Gallery the last week in April. I just found a review of it on the blog artPark. Scroll down a bit, he reviewed my show last. He also thought I was a boy - I’m not.

I think it was a pretty good review - I agree with him that the images didn’t necessarily evoke a certain nostalgia for family vacations, but they weren’t meant to. I broke down the images in reference to a breaking down of the landscape as our relationship evolves with it, both in the sense of family vacations, and humanity’s construction and destruction of the land around us.

In reflecting on the show, I am really happy with it. It was stressful at times, and though I was very nervous for my two critiques, they both ended up being really interesting. The conversations that occurred during them were intelligent, thoughtful responses to my artwork which I really had a great time participating in.

I wish I had more images of the opening on Friday night, but unfortunately I was so overwhelmed that a camera never even got into my hand. It was a lot of fun, though, and meant a lot to have so many friends, family members, and professors come out for it. Thank you!

Below is a link to more images of the show, as well as my Artist’s Statement.

Postcards, 1947-1963

Monday, April 28, 2008

Inaugural Blog/Preview

I've just created a website - - to post my artwork on. I'm going to focus on getting that up and running in the next few weeks, and then will turn attention toward this blog, which I plan to begin this summer.

I'm hoping the blog will be a combination of things I'm doing, trips I go on, restaurant recommendations, recipes I try, etc. Anything and everything about my life.

Updates to come - my apologies for the delay!

xo Calvine