Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Watermelon Party

The rest of our day was spent mainly lying down, listening/playing music, sitting in grass and watching people play kick ball (including my new fake boyfriend whose name I don't know/with whom I did not in any way actually interact), and having a nice dinner at L. and T.'s. The dinner was quinoa and mahi mahi in a pineapple pepper sauce. I was a jerk and totally forgot to photograph it, so busy was I consuming it. After all those activities we piled into L. and T.'s friend's car an drove to S.'s party, where there a number of cheeses and nice cured salami to much on. Not to mention vodka soaked watermelon.
I spent the majority of the party on their back deck talking to an ever-rotating set of folks, some known, some unknown. For example, I knew E. already. So we talked about things and had our photo taken.
And then we got L. in on the photo action and I made this face. Sad thing is someone hit the back of my head as this photograph was taken, so now my face looks like that all the time. Question: would you be my friend if I looked like that all the time? Because I do.
The birthday boy and the watermelon eater.
It was a good party. I enjoyed meeting one half of the couple who now lives above L. and T. I also commended L. on her choice of bridesmaids, especially the above E., whom I didn't know before the bachelorette weekend and wedding, but whom I now enjoy seeing at events ranging from those featuring  pigoatoysters to surreal parties in Manhattan. That sentence was terribly constructed, the point is that it's always nice to see E. So good times all around. Another late evening, but a fun one.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicken Sandwich c/o Van Horn Sandwich Shop

More than a year ago L. and I had hoped to try the fried chicken at Van Horn Sandwich Shop. Unfortunately on the day we actually made our attempt, the place was still remarkably new and the line for such an experience too long for our taste. Instead we went elsewhere and ran into a former college classmate of ours. This problem of waiting was less in force when we decided to give it another go on Saturday morning. It may have been at least in part because we got out at a decent hour before too many others had brunch on the brain. We chose to sit outside in their back patio area, which was sparsely populated at the time and cooler than inside. L. chose to have an iced coffee. We both marveled at the beauty of cream making its way through ice and java.
While I wasn't in terribly bad shape for having had a number of beers the night before, I didn't feel that I needed to start my day with alcohol but still wanted to try their Bloody Mary, so I requested a virginal variety. It was pretty darn good. Properly cloudy with fresh horseradish and complete with an olive and caper berries.
I chose to try the fried chicken sandwich, which included 'zesty coleslaw' and a pickle, as well as a little side salad to boot.
I must say this was a very well executed sandwich on the whole. The chicken, especially, was quite succulent. I could have perhaps enjoyed just a little thicker and crispier batter and a slaw with just a little more zip or zest. But these are minor desires; I ate almost the whole thing and what I didn't eat L. finished for me. L. had the omelet of the day I believe, which included gruyere and asparagus if I recall correctly.
A solid way to start the day.

Beer Times with Old Friends c/o The Bell House

I got in touch with T. and S. and J. and C. a few days before my arrival in Brooklyn to see whether there might be an opportunity to see one or all of them. S. and T. are long-time pals from my high school days while C. and J. entered the fray during T.'s time in college. They are a great group of people and I really enjoy seeing them when I can. So after dinner L. and I got back on the subway. She went home while I made my way to the Bell House, a place I had gone once before for a 90s themed prom. Good times were had. Photographs were taken.
Some photographs more successful than others.

I have no idea what's going on here as far as our faces are concerned, but I am definitely amused. I've known these dudes for 17 years. Ugh. That officially makes us all old. Or maybe I should only speak for myself, the youngest of the bunch:)

Yup. Good times. I owe C. money for the car I ended up taking back to L. and T.'s digs. It's a fact.

Dinner c/o Diner

So my trip up to Brooklyn coincided with L. and Fat T.'s good friend S.'s birthday/birthday weekend. L. insisted that S. wouldn't mind too terribly if I joined in on some of his birthday activities, and so I did. The first activity (of only two, it's not like it was a completely birthday-centric weekend) was dinner at Diner. I had read about this place via The Girl Who Eats Everything and was glad to finally have the opportunity to actually try some of their dishes. L. and I were a bit late (Fatty sat out the dinner); S. and his three friends already had beers and were sitting at stools along the old-school diner counter when we arrived. Soon after our arrival we all squeezed into a corner booth. Then our server came for drink orders. I believe I had a Troeg's Summer Ale. Diner has a rotating menu and doesn't bother printing it out. Instead, the waitress took a pen to the brown paper that covered our table, and began to outline our options course by course. There were a lot of options. I chose the salad with fried poached egg, radish and red onion
This fried poached egg was a thing of wonder. It reminded me a bit of an egg I once had at Bolete. Crisp on the outside, firm white in the next ring, but still a center featuring a nice oozy yolk, the color of which (to me) would suggest that it truly was an egg that came from a happy chicken. Ever notice that unhappy chicken egg yolks are too yellow? While happy chicken eggs have this really lovely orange glow to them? I have. In any case. It was a delightful salad.
L. enjoyed a cold soup with ingredients that included watercress and an oyster and, according to the b-day boy, "her face." But I think that last ingredient is not technically a true statement. Though the exact composition of the soup is a mystery (in part because of our memories and in part because of the rotating menu that makes it impossible to look it up) I know L. enjoyed it very much. From the slurp I was graciously allowed, I would also say that it was pretty tasty.
There were a number of special small plates to choose from. Including a pasta, which I chose. Tagliatelle pasta I believe, clearly fresh. I think the other main ingredient, other than a healthy dusting of cheese, was lamb...or was it chorizo? It's hard to remember and I didn't take notes for fear of elbowing either L. or S.'s friend in the process. In any case, the dish was well executed and lovely to look at. And maybe also had an egg?
Others enjoyed the burger, fish, and pork. There had been and 2 pound steak for $98 that none of us went for, though it could probably have served as a meal for all of us. We also all shared a bit of dessert, a basil custard/tart type thing with raspberry coulis. Inventive and refreshing, that was.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Welcome Pickles and Beer c/o Gowanus Yacht Club

I returned from my journey south and did the regular 9-5 thing for the next few days, but came into work early that following Friday in order to leave reasonably early. I hoped that I could make a jump on traffic for my drive to Brooklyn to visit with the likes of L. and Fat T. but that didn't go quite as planned. Just as I was about to get on to 95, traffic totally stalled and I counted at least 10 cop cars and a few ambulances driving on the highway overpass above, which suggested a pretty massive accident that would probably make my getting to the NJ Turnpike the 'back way' unfeasible. So I ended up going south and then across the Franklin Bridge....uh I was about to outline every step of my drive, but no one needs that. The point is that between an accident on 95, stupid crazy traffic on the turnpike and then again on 78, my estimated arrival time of 3 was off by a good hour and a half.  L. was still at work but my thoughts of having lunch before meeting up with her didn't make quite as much sense, as we had dinner plans for which I wanted a full appetite. So I took up residence at Gowanus Yacht Club to await her arrival back to the 'hood. I asked for a kolsch and a side of pickles and enjoyed both while reading the fifth Game of Thrones book (at this moment I am 78% done with it and I both want to read it super fast and super slow because I want to know what happens, but I also know there isn't another book to satiate all the unanswered questions I have no doubt will arise in the concluding chapters). The pickles were good. Not too sweet or mushy. Definitely rather freshly brined with a good crunch. And who doesn't love a kolsch? The crowd at 4:30 was relatively non-existent, just a few tables of tatooed white people with sunglasses, slouchy skirts and plaid shirts. I almost fit in, except for the lack of tattoos.

Pool Party in Scottsville

On my way back to Philly I once again stopped by J. and V.'s as a mid-way point. Soon after my arrival we made our way to J. and V.'s niece's family birthday party, which was held at the home of some out of town friends with a pool. There were bbq fixins for eating.
A view of the James River for looking.
A pool, which apparently had a temp of over 90 degrees...it was near 100 degrees on that day. Stinking, terrible heat.
I didn't get in the water due to the rather deep dog bite I received the day before (still not completely healed 20 days later), but I did take a few photos of others enjoying the water.
I never got around to cake, but G. most certainly did.
It was nice again to see these folks. I've met V.'s parents, siblings and assorted friends throughout the years, and they're always very nice to me....even if I'm the only woman drinking beer openly. V.'s aunt at one point asserted that she was quite impressed with the fact that I travel alone. She meant well. But I wondered what the alternative was. I'm a 30 year old woman. Should I have an escort? Should I simply never go anywhere because I don't have a man to go with me? She really didn't mean it as anything other than 'I wouldn't do what you do and I'm impressed.' But it's the same as when I have friends whose long term relationships end, and then turn to me and  say thingslike 'I don't want to be single' as if it's absolutely the worst possible state to be in. They, too, are only saying how they feel after being so long paired up (and I do understand), but for me, someone who has been so long unpaired, saying that some version of my life is one that they would dread. Well, it's not really the best thing to say. After the party we returned to the air conditioning, where I was introduced to Despicable Me. Not a bad movie.

Thanks to the P. clan for their welcome and hospitality!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dinner c/o Dave's Modern Tavern & Stormy Weather

On the day after the fourth Dad took me and J. to a relatively new restaurant in the greater Sewanee area: Dave's Modern Tavern. The choice to include 'modern' in the restaurant title is certainly and interesting choice, but I can't say there was anything particularly 'au courant' going on in the restaurant's decor or menu. That said, the menu did offer a few things that you'd be hard pressed to find in the other country establishments in a 20 mile radius of Sewanee. For example, the fried artichoke hearts with a spicy aioli dipping sauce. Now this wouldn't be revolutionary really, but the fry job had a light touch and a more interesting seasoned batter than many.
We also tried their fried green tomatoes, which weren't quite as special in my book. The breading was a little too thick and masked the tangy taste of the tomatoes themselves, but the goat cheese was a nice little touch.
I believe this is J.'s plate. She chose to go the route of pulled brisket.
Dad chose one of the fish dishes, though I can't quite recall which.
I tried the barbeque sampler of ribs, pulled pork and New Orleans sausage. Ribs were pretty tender, pulled pork wasn't bad. I was overly more satisfied with my recent Khyber Pass bbq.I should note that they have a pretty decent selection of bottled beers. I again enjoyed a Sweetwater 420. My overall thoughts on the place are generally positive. They're not trying to be too terribly different, but that's a wise choice in this area...if you're too weird or wacky all you're guaranteed is a very short-run as a restauranteur. But they did seem to be trying to inject a little creativity into a lot of the standard fare they were serving up. Service itself was ok. At first it was better, but as the place filled up our waitress became less and less attentive. The impending storm I discuss below certainly also played a role...but when you wait a good 10 minutes for a slice of pre-made cheesecake, well, that makes me itch with frustration.
While we were enjoying our meal, the skies started turning all sorts of grey and almost green. I went outside to take a few photos it was so ominous. Clearly a storm was coming at us, but it was taking its time. First darkening the skies, then pushing a strong wind all about, which toppled the restaurant's outdoor furniture and played with shutting off power altogether (lights flickered a number of times). Then a bit of spittle rain fell upon us before the final beginning of deluges finally were unleashed. Of course our meal was completed just as the rain really started, but we made our way out nonetheless.

I was convinced this wasn't a cloud, but a huge plume of smoke or beginning of a tornado. J. was not quite as impressed.
Once back in Sewanee we took a quick drive to Green's View.
We then tried to do a loop around Morgan's Steep, but a big tree had fallen in the road and there was no loop to be had. A bit later I drove J. back down the mountain into the valley, it was not the most lackadaisical of drives. I was on high alert for falling branches. The entire road was covered in fallen leaves and weaker pieces of branches, but the whole road was actually open for business.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gimlet, Pups and 4th Food

After the parade there was a bit of regrouping to do. My father had received invitations to a number of different social functions, so determining the exact order of the evening was necessary. I also needed to drive J. back to where she was staying in the valley. We saw H. and C. briefly at the BBQ but I realized that I might not see them again before I departed, so ultimately J. and I stopped by their spread. H. created a delightfully refreshing, but strong, gin gimlet for me and then we all sat outside for a bit. 

It was very hot.
Then I dropped J. off and made my way towards Tim's Ford Lake, which, it turns out, is really, really far away. On the way I came across these dogs.
The pup was very cute. The white dog barked at me.
Dad's friends had a nice spread of food to enjoy.

And enjoy it I did.
And that wraps up the food of the fourth!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sewanee 4th of July: Small Town Dog Show & Parade

So my father's house in Sewanee is not far from the town's central artery, which is pretty much 'Main Street' with a different name. Each July 4th the town's parade is along this road. A few hours before the parade there are a few other Independence Day events that I like to check out. Well, mainly the Mutt Show. There's a cat show, but that seems far less fun. Because of our proximity to the main drag, Dad thought it would be nice to invite folks to our place pre-parade for beverages and snacks. I volunteered to make a few different things, so on the day itself I woke up relatively early to get some of the heavy lifting on that front completed while still allowing myself the necessary time to go take a good luck at the mutts. There are a number of different categories for this event, which include prizes for best dressed dog, best matching dog and owner, smallest dog and largest dog, and there's a trick category too. I stayed for the majority of these categories but time ran out before the tricks. Here are photos proving as much. The basic structure was that each owner and dog would take one turn around a small circle, which was lined on all sides with folks of all ages. Certain patches of the circle featured congregations of kids on their knees, leaning over the largely ceremonial and entirely miniscule wall separating the audience from the contestants, reaching for each and every dog that walked by. I should note that at 10 AM it was easily over 80 degrees and wasn't really going to do anything other than get hotter throughout the day. Here, a dog was just done with the whole walking in a circle thing.
I believe this was one of the best dressed contestants.
And another. There were a lot of blonde little girls.
I think this is a dude with whom my father plays poker. He was one of the panel of three judges.
The MC for this event was my cousin E. When the judges were deliberating over the winners for each category E. would pick a member from the audience to answer a trivia question. This kid was levitating with excitement, but ultimately got the question wrong. I believe it was: true or false, dogs have sweat glands in their paws?
That really tall dude in the back? I don't know him. But he is the quitessentially dressed and coiffed young man you'll see around Sewanee, both when the University is in session and even when it's not. I spent a portion of many of my childhood summers in Sewanee and have a strange secret appreciation for this overly preppy Republican look. But whenever I have actually spoken to the majority of dudes like this, I realize it's all looks. That will be my greatest generalization of this post...I think.
This dog had 'firecrackers' coming out of its ears.
Picking her next trivia victim, I think.
This was one of the contestants in the smallest dog category.
The judges, taking notes.
I may be wrong, but I think these girls a) won first place in the little dog category and b)that they had eye make up and perhaps other make up on. Or their faces were just flawless. I'm the sort of person who would almost prefer to wonder what the hell their mother (or grandmother) was thinking than that they just had these faces all on their own.

This was for the look alike category. I'm not sure if they were going for a particular costume per se or just matching.
T. is a pretty long-time member of the Sewanee community. She suffered a stroke a few years back, which from what I understand was pretty dire. But she rebounded better than some might have thought and was certainly properly done up for her turn in the circle, complete with tinseled parasol and streaked blue hair.
I believe she and her dog, of whom I never actually got a good photograph, won first prize. Well deserved. Especially considering how many people competing seemed to have few actual ties to the town. I guess Sewanee's relatively timeless 4th festivities were written up in a magazine or two, so there definitely people who were in town on a kind of 'tourist basis.' While I have a fair amount of historical connection to the town, it's not like I grew up in town, attending the schools or making friends with the locals. So when a woman standing next to me asked questions about the town with the assumption I was a local (fostered in part by the fact that I was able to say hello to someone else in the crowd), I felt pretty good about the fact that I was actually able to respond to her questions from a place of knowledge. I'll never be a townie, but I don't think you could call me a tourist either.
This little guy had a patriotic bow tie.
Matching shin splints, of course.
This was a pretty minimalist dress the same effort. The dog was all white. The boy wore all white. I believe this is the grandson of A. and Z. but I may have misunderstood that.
For the largest dog category there was only one entrant. So she necessarily won. Of course I was quite pleased for her given my long-held coveting of such a creature. Great Danes, one day I might have one of you. One day.
Her glory lap.

And then I left and went back to the home front to finish up on the various dishes while Dad did a fair amount of sorting, organizing and cleaning. Here, the dip.
Here the spicy slaw with green apples.
Here the bean salad. These three things have definitely become my go-to dishes for summer shindigs.
Dad made gazpacho.
And J. helped grill hot dogs.
I put some skewers into the mix.
And then it was off to the parade, which is a mish mash of folks advertising things, folks showing off their old cars, not all that impressive beauty queens, folks declaring their political preferences, and an assortment of other things.
This was probably the most subversive of cars with a bunch of kids apparently in drag. I have no idea what they were selling or who they were representing.
No small town in the south would be complete without the token hippie couple on a tandem bike.

This old car broke down pretty much as it passed us. You can see that a few people are pushing it to the side of the road.
The Sewanee Kazoos: an actual thing.
No idea exactly what these two were about, but I'm glad they brought their cooler.

The one stop light in all of Sewanee.
No idea.
Seems like she's doing a hard sell for America.

I've always enjoyed this final golf cart that definitively lets you know that there is no more parade for you to see.
The end of the end.