Saturday, October 30, 2010

At the Car Wash

Another day I drove down to Winchester; what a pretty drive that can be. After picking up a few supplies I took the car through the car wash.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dead Bird

So our house in Sewanee has these great big windows. They're really great for us, but can be a hazard to birds. Mom got out of the hospital last Monday and we took her home and during one of my ambles around the outside of the house I found this poor fellow, a victim of our view. Mom said she thought it was a wren, but I only showed it to her on the tiny camera screen so she may have been mistaken.
Nothing is really very funny about my mother's current state of health, not that someone would think there was but I tend to try to find the humor in any given situation. I'm not sure that I really want to write about it online mainly because she and my father do check into the blog from time to time and I'm not sure that I have expressed my thoughts to them all that well, so to do so here seems a bit odd. That said, I will continue. Right now I am in Abingdon, Virginia on my way up to D.C. for the John Stewart/Steve Colbert rally and then a quick week of work in Philly before returning back south. It's strange to be away from them both, and I feel guilty for leaving the burden of my mother's care to my father while I gallivant at a comedy rally. There's a but in there somewhere, but I don't really feel like expressing it. So what am I trying to say? It's scary to have a parent diminish physically and know there's nothing you can really do about it but bear witness. There is the hope that she can regain some of her strength, but even so, it's not something I would recommend. I spoke to a friend a few weeks back when my mother was still in the hospital, and I strongly suggested that the friend avoid the experience, which is, I know, preposterous. One cannot avoid their parents growing older or falling ill, but man it stinks. Those are my thoughts. Probably inappropriate to be paired with images of a dead bird. But that's what was up on the photo queue and that's what I'm thinking whilst in Abingdon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuna Salad and Deviled Eggs c/o Bricktop's

Another night my father went over to have a drink and dinner with some Sewanee folk and I was left to my own devices. I chose to return to Bricktops and try their tuna salad while watching a Phillies playoff game; I think they ended up winning that game. The salad was decent, though I think a little less soy-y sauce on the tuna would have been more to my liking.
I sat at the bar and a couple sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. They asked if I was a photographer, I said no but that I did have a blog. Then the wife gave me a list of places in Nashville she felt were especially worth trying (Cafe Nonna among them) and then, as I often do, I asked them how they met, and they told me the short and long version. The longer version was more interesting and involved a break up over Christmas and her father telling her to, well, play hard to get. Now they're married happily and have twins, all because of a little subterfuge. Maybe this is my fatal flaw: I either say too much or nothing at all, but I never say the opposite of what I mean. Or maybe I do. Actually, yeah, sometimes I do. Sigh. It's so hard to be me.
I also tried a half order of their deviled eggs, which weren't quite as interesting as I might have hoped.
I mean, really. The father told his daughter not to return the guy's phone calls, to start dating other people, to be unavailable even when she wasn't...basically it seems like he was encouraging her to utilize 'the rules.' My mother has told me, throughout time, that I could benefit from being a little less straightforward or honest when it comes to dating, but it just seems crazy to go about dating in this fashion. Or not. I'm not sure what my point is here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dinner c/o the Continental Grille

My cousin H. and his wife C. came into Nashville one evening. They went to see some glass and had plans to see a show in the evening. They were staying in the swank Hermitage Hotel and suggested that my father and I meet up with them for dinner at the Continental Grille. We were an astounding thirty minutes late for that as a result of my leaving the hospital a little late, and Dad not actually knowing where we were going, and neither of us having H.'s cell number. We worked it out eventually. C. had ordered the smoked trout appetizer while they waited for us, and I had a taste of it, which was good. I decided to have a martini; I asked for it dirty and with three olives, and it came exactly as I liked. Later on, when I took a look at their wine/cocktail menu I saw they had a $25 martini featuring Jean Marc XO Vodka Martini and blue cheese and truffle oil stuffed olives. One day I will be the sort of person to drop cash like it's nothing and try such a cocktail out (maybe) but, even on someone else's tab, that day has yet to come.
I tried their sweet onion bisque with chives, bacon and brie 'sandwich.' It was sweet but the bacon and freshly ground pepper balanced it out nicely.
With our meals we drank Sancerre.
Dad and I each ordered the scallops, which were served without any sides or garnishes, so he tried their vegetable of the day: cauliflower. Now, hmmm, look at that, sure does look like broccoli don't it? There was some confusion and doubt as to whether these alleged cauliflower were, in fact, cauliflower and that was never quite put to rest as far as I'm concerned.
The scallops were marvelously cooked and a bit more generous in portion than I had expected. Served in a cast iron skillet type thing with a nice helping of butter, they were tender and just yummy. Real good.
I went with the truffle mac n' cheese as my side, as much as I didn't really need it. It, too, was quite to my liking.
C. ordered the venison, which she offered me to taste...and that was pretty good too, rare but not gamey. I think my cousin had fish, but I don't know if I tried his food. I don't think so. The graphics for the menu online really are at odds with the dining room ambience and overall chi-chi-ness of the joint. Our waiter was pretty funny and knowledgeable, though one of his helpers seemed pretty uninformed, which was surprising; usually a restaurant of this price bracket makes it a necessity that even the busboys can answer questions about the menu. A great meal.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Another thing I love:

The fact that moonlight really does cast a shadow.

Lemon Apricot Pancakes c/o the Pancake Pantry

On my last sojourn in Nashville, I kept meaning to go to the Pancake Pantry, but I kept not going because in order to get there without waiting in a ridiculous line you had to be up on the earlier side of early. Finally, one morning, I was up that early, so before going to the hospital I tried the lemon/apricot pancakes that had long caught my eye. I was underwhelmed. I'm not actually that big a pancake person, so that could have been part of the problem. And the gobs and gobs of preserved apricots weren't really what I was expecting, though I probably should have.

Paté and Risotto c/o Tin Angel

Another night took us to the Tin Angel. Though we had a little wait, we were eventually seated in the back room, which was removed from the din of the bar and main dining area. They had a paté and Manchego special, which we knew we wanted to try, and that didn't disappoint.
They have little half bottles of wine. So we tried the Vouvray. It was different than most Vouvrays I've tried. I like the Vouvrays I'm used to, they have a honeysuckle taste to them but aren't cloyingly sweet like a Riesling or Moscat. But this Vouvray, it had - and I know this is going to sound kind of obvious - this really great grape taste. Like the sweetest element of a Concord grape without the bitterness of the skin. It was really quite lovely.
I tried their lobster and shrimp risotto, which wasn't as impressive as I might have hoped.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lunch c/o La Paz

When we went to Samurai for dinner, I noted the Mexican place across the street...well, one of the Mexican places across the street. Later on I took a look at its menu online and determined that I was interested in its fare and mentioned this to my father. So, for lunch one day, we went to La Paz. They started us with salsa and chips.
I ordered a burrito that I can't find on their menu. It had chicken and spinach and other stuff inside of it. It was above average but not as good as a similarly styled dish I had in Cowan on my last Tennessee visit, though it looked better.

Dad ordered a tamale and chille relleno. He was a bit disappointed that his tamale didn't have meat inside it and had a lively conversation with the manager all about it. This guy understood the concept of customer service, which is funny because my father really wasn't complaining/had no reason to complain. Or, that's how I see it. Expectations that a manager should address include the food being served at the right temperature and all, but if a place makes a dish a little differently than you're used to, that's not as much of an actionable crime in my book. Point being is that the guy offered to take the tamale off of our bill and promised that if my father told him the next time he was going to come in, the guy would be sure that a few meat-stuffed tamales would be there waiting for him.

Hotel Breakfasts

With our reservation the hotel gave my father a seemingly unending supply of breakfast coupons. During my last stay I utilized them a fair amount, but this time around I just couldn't quite bother. This was, in part, due to the general blah-ness of the food. All buffet-style, except for the occasional omelet making station, it never really changed. This was one of the two breakfasts I got around to eating at the hotel. The food wasn't worth the feeling of having eaten a lot of substandard stuff. Though I won't lie and say I didn't enjoy the sausage links or potatoes in the moment, just that upon further reflection I could have done better.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Burger c/o Blackstone Brew Pub

Another night I wanted a beer. Or three. Well, two. So I met up with Dad at Blackstone because I already knew how much I liked their beer. I tried their burger, but it wasn't really anything to write home (or blog) about. I ate half. Village Whiskey burger, you haunt me. The Chaser Ale, however, didn't disappoint.

Keurig Crazy

While Mom was in the hospital, Dad and I stayed in the same hotel we'd stayed in during her last hospital stay and a few subsequent out-patient visits to Nashville. One of the things about the floor on which we stayed was the 'executive lounge,' which included this Keurig machine (actually the first time it was a different machine) and a plethora of options in terms of drinks to make in the machine. I like to say I'm not a coffee drinker, and I think it's not entirely untrue...but it's not really true either. I'm not a coffee drinker in my day to day life because I don't make very good coffee and I'm too lazy to really go and get myself a cup of coffee each morning. That, and I'm pretty happy with my Earl Grey caffeine fix most mornings. That said, if it's easy, flavored and free, I'll happily consume coffee. I especially liked the Keurig hot chocolate option, which isn't coffee at all, actually. It was a step above the usual not homemade without actual milk stuff you get most everywhere. I could have lived on it. Ish.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cocktail, Calamari and Chicken c/o The Acorn

Another day, another dinner. This time we tried out The Acorn. It was a warm, if sporadically drizzly, evening, so when given the choice of sitting in the rather empty dining room, or on the second floor's porch/deck, we went with the porch. I decided that a cocktail might be nice, so I looked at their specialties and got suckered into the combination of club soda and champagne, entirely disregarding a word that made no sense to me (turns out that word could have been translated to 'gross, dessert wine'). It was too sweet.
We shared the calamari appetizer, which was nice, though I didn't really dig the Goddess dressing element.
For my entree I went with the pan seared chicken breast with apricot and pistachio stuffing, goat cheese grits, and picholine olive reduction. I wasn't as impressed by the grits as I thought I might be, but the chicken was nice and I liked the olive element.

Dinner c/o Cafe Nonna

My father is a bit of a guidebook connoisseur. Or something. That's not really what I mean. He's thorough in tracking down source materials in order to determine where to go and what to see in any location in which he might find himself spending time. In the case of Nashville this included a guidebook and vigilant attention to the local paper's recent 'best' issue. One of the places he wanted to try was Cafe Nonna, as it was declared the best Italian by Nashvillians. So, after a bit of driving confusion on a rather rainy night - unless I'm making up the rain - that's where we went for dinner. I ordered the Riviera salad (feta, sun dried tomatoes, pasta, olives, artichokes) and their penne with Amatriciana sauce. The salad was good, though I forgot that sun dried tomatoes aren't really my thing and I didn't think the pasta really added anything to the dish.
My pasta was nicely cooked but, to be honest, the sauce was a bit of a let down. Described as "pancetta, onion, white wine and marinara with a pinch of chili flakes and butter," the sauce really just seemed like a slightly fancy marinara. I didn't pick up any chili nor white wine or pancetta elements. Meanwhile my father ordered the smoked gouda ravioli with the same sauce. After taking one bite he raised both of his arms in the air and started waving his hands around in a way that immediately embarrassed me, but the reason behind his rather odd approach to getting attention was fair enough: the pasta was cold, like almost frozen cold, in the center, and he wanted it fixed. Someone came over, the dish was taken away, slight apologies were made and an explanation was given that didn't realllllly make all that much sense. Our server told us that the sauce and pasta are cooked separately, so that was why the ravioli wasn't cooked. I figure what she meant might have been that they half cook the ravioli in advance and then trust that the hot sauce will do the rest of the job, but that in this case it didn't. My father and I share certain curmudgeonly characteristics, and his came to bear in this situation more than mine in the moment....though I do think that in a situation where you put cold food in front of a paying customer, you need to straight up apologize, offer to comp something and hope for the best. Making excuses, especially ones that aren't all that convincing, just makes the customer more grumpy.
That said, I actually liked the piece of ravioli I tried off of my father's reheated plate. And that said, I wouldn't really bother going back and trying it again. Sad face.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sushi Dinner c/o Samurai Sushi

For dinner on my second night in town, my father and I went to Samurai Sushi. I ordered yellowtail and scallions and a roll that involved wasabi, but turned out not to be all that spicy. Oh, and ikura.
Definitely good. Definitely filling. Later on that evening I may or may not have ridden a motorcycle. That is all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Salad and Filet Mignon c/o Bricktops

After seeing Mom and dropping off my stuff, Dad and I went to Bricktops for dinner. He ordered the oyster appetizer, I had one, it was good.
I tried their basic salad, which came with cheese and bacon.
For my main meal I ordered the filet mignon and twice baked potato. That twice baked potato really was something. I kept wanting to eat it, which was ok, since it was on my plate...but healthy? Probably not. The filet mignon was also quite good, cooked as I liked it (pink but not too pink) and nicely salted and peppered.

I was quite pleased with everything we had here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Brunch in Grove City

In a fashion much like my last Ohio stopover, K. and I went over to her parents' house for brunch on Sunday morning. M. and his kids were once again up from Cincinnati, and so you'll see I took way too many pictures of their kids, though the littlest certainly got the most camera time.

Last time she had no hair and couldn't stand. Now she has hair and teeth and can. It doesn't feel like enough time has gone by for such a transformation. Just goes to show you, little people grow faster than big people. What?

Brunch consisted of fresh fruit and breakfast burritos.

I took a ton of photographs of I. by the sliding door, and liked them all, so I am sharing them all.

I asked L. to take a photograph of K. and myself, and A. wanted in on the action.
This was a series of three, I encouraged everyone to use their surfer hands and this is the best of the bunch...except M. looked better in the other two, as his eyes were open. If I was a better photoshopper I could take him from one of the other shots and superimpose his image to this...but I have no idea how to do that.
After this I got back on the road and drove on down to Nashville.

Salad and Pizza c/o Dewey's

On the whole I made good time getting to Columbus, even with my lunch/pretty stop. After hanging around my aunt and uncle's for a bit, we all (me, my cousin K. and aunt and uncle) got ourselves over to Dewey's. I'd never been to this particular pizza joint before. They had a nice beer list; I went with the Troeg's Amber, and a wider range of pizza toppings. I had the peppercorn ranch salad, which was pleasing and not too heavily dressed.
I expressed an interest in the Green Lantern (red sauce, mozzarella cheese, minced garlic, mushrooms, goat cheese, artichokes pesto) and the Socrates Revenge (olive oil, minced garlic, mozz/fontina blend, spinach, black olives, green olives, feta cheese, red onions and tomatoes) pizzas and K. and my aunt suggested we get a half and half pizza. I dug both of them; I liked the pesto element of the Green Lantern while I enjoyed the tomato/feta aspect of Socrates' Revenge. My aunt said that though she probably never would have ordered the Green Lantern pizza (I think that's the one) on her own, she was surprised by how much she actually liked it. I'm not sure how K. felt. My uncle, a famously simple eater, went with his own pepperoni pizza.
Then K. and I went to her place where I drank a light beer and she drank some old wine. We tried watching Saturday Night Live, but it wasn't terribly funny. Then I accidentally brushed my teeth with K.'s Icy/Hot pain relief balm. This was a relatively understandable mistake, I assure you, though I won't lie: it took a rather longer than one might hope for time for me to realize my mistake....and then I was so sheepish about it that I didn't tell K. about it until the next morning. I didn't ingest any of it, thank goodness, but I did worry about the tube's instructions. In other words, the instructions were to go to a hospital/contact a medical professional...but I was fairly certain I'd be ok....though I also worried that I would end up having a seizure in the middle of the night as the Icy/Hot traces wended their ways through my large and small intestines. Or something. Poor K. would come into the guestroom in the morning and find me seized: hot in some spots, icy in others.