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.