Friday, January 22, 2010

The Piano Time Capsule

Two or three weeks ago, my mother updated her facebook status with something like: "Just when you thought the packing was done, I discovered two boxes of sheet music!  Does anyone want it?"  I, naturally responded right away that I did.  I figured most of the sheet music was mine and there were quite a few books of Christmas and popular music that I thought would be useful for the cabaret events that I perform in where I work.  What arrived was a fantastic surprise that gave a big smile and lovely walk down memory lane.

Coppa, Chinato Wishes and Salumi Dreams

After the wonderful time we had at the Sommelier Smack-Down at Gordon's last night, I headed over to Coppa in the South End with friends for a night cap.  It's the latest from Ken Oringer, and the talented Jamie Bissonette takes the helm as chef de cuisine.  I've heard quite a buzz surrounding the place over the past few weeks since they've opened.  From my experience there, I'd say it's well deserved.

Sommelier Smack-Down at Gordon's

What a blast the Sommelier Smack-Down was last night at Gordon's Wine in Waltham!  I saw two dear friends, Mike Meagher of Vineyard Road, and Kate Moore of L'Espalier, pitted toe-to-toe vying for reign as top sommelier of the night.  The challenge was to chose the best wines to compliment a surprise menu created by Adam Ostrofsky of Sel de la Terre, Boylston. The audience of tasters chose the victor voting on each course as to which pairing they liked better.  Ian Grossman, also of SDLT Boylston, served as master of ceremonies polling the crowd and keeping the event moving along as well as sous chef to Chef Adam.

[title of show], SpeakEasy Stage Company

That's what it's called... [title of show].  Don't worry, I was confused too.  It's the latest production from the SpeakEasy Stage Company here in Boston at the Calderwood Pavillion in the South End.  I saw a performance this past Wednesday night at the Roger's Theater within the Calderwood, a cozy little black box type perfect for the production.  It played to a full house on a Wednesday night at the "Pay What You Can" night.  It cost me nothing due to the kindness of a stranger with an extra ticket - thanks Hal, wherever you are!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Duozo, Spot-On Japanese in Boston

I first wandered into Duozo near Copley Mall a year or so ago and had a lovely late lunch.  Since then, I've been meaning to return to experience more from their menu.  I don't remember the Bento Box lunch specifically, but I do remember that the food was fresh and lovingly prepared with the right seasoning and an impeccable sense of balance.  I've always admired the simplicity of Japanese food for those very reasons, but in the hands of an amateur, this can go woefully wrong. To find a place that really succeeds is a wonderful thing.  My impromptu pre-theater meal at Duozo was delicious from start to finish and was served up by an attentive and knowledgeable staff.

Making Oprah Proud, Random Acts of Kindness

One of my New Year's resolutions is to perform more random acts of kindness in my daily life. It might sound a little like Pollyanna optimism, but I do think that little gestures of good will here and there magnify the flow of positive energy in the world. I was reminded of this when I walked by a heart that someone had formed with their footprints in the freshly fallen snow on my walk to the see beautiful art at the MFA yesterday. I stopped to take a picture and I started thinking about all of the possible narratives. Perhaps they were trying to impress their date or maybe they were just lost in unrequited love.  Who knows what their story was, but it put a smile on my face and gave me a warm fuzzy on a chilly and gray afternoon. I was thankful for this small miracle, and I was inspired by it to continue the flow of good energy somehow that day.

Ancient Egypt and Toulouse-Latrec at the MFA, Boston

By looking out the window where I work, I can always see what the latest special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art is here in Boston. There are these handy ads that hang from the streetlights that I can read from one of our dining rooms.  I've seen past exhibitions like the "Tintoretto, Titian, and Veronese," "El Greco to Velazquez," and "Madame X" and they have always been wonderful.   The announcement of "The Secrets of Tomb 10-A" has been taunting me for the past month or two, so I decided it was high time to get out of the house and see it on my day off.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Robiola La Rossa

Piedmont is a region in Italy that lies to the North and is surrounded by mountains on three sides.  It is the home of some of Italy's most highly regarded wines, Barolo and Barberesco, and some of my favorite Italian culinary delights including cheese.  You'll find an entire family of cheeses here called Robiola. You'll love their creamy rich, buttery flavors and tangy finish.  Typically they are made from a mix of milk types usually including cow's milk and are meant for relatively immediate consumption being soft-ripened.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Evan Williams Distillery, 2000 Single Barrel Vintage

I am most definitely on a Bourbon kick.  These long winter nights make me enjoy the smooth warming drink all the more.  Because of the increased interest folks seem to have these days in brown liquor there is no shortage of new and tasty ones to try in my local shops.  I recently bought a bottle of the Evan Williams Single Barrel from 2000.  They release them every year or so, and I've had the 1997 and 1998.  Both were very good as is the 2000.  It retails for around $30 a bottle, so for a single barrel Bourbon, it's a pretty good deal.

Brussels Sprouts - Another Delicious Brassica

The Brassica family includes some of my favorites like cauliflower and cabbage as well as Brussels sprouts.  I feel like Brussels sprouts are severely unappreciated because they are most often overcooked causing them to have a bitter, sulfurous taste.  It's a shame, because they can be quite delicious when prepared well.  They are in season from December to June in California and Mexico and you'll see them in the supermarkets for a good price then.  They are best however if you can find them grown locally just after the first frost when they seem to be a touch sweeter than usual.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kristen Stoner's "Images" for Solo Flute

"Images" is a fabulous new album featuring works for solo flute performed by Kristen Stoner, professor of flute at University of Florida.  It features works mostly by living American women composers like Libby Larsen, Katherine Hoover, Victoria Bond, and by the performer herself!  There is a nod to some standards in the flute repertoire also such as Debussy's Syrinx, Honneger's Danse de la Chevre, and Bozza's Image.

Brick House Vineyards

When I visited Brick House Winery in Oregon 5 years ago, I was struck by the commitment to the land and their desire to make the best wine they could with the grapes yielded by their unique terroir in the the Northern Willamette Valley.  I haven't visited many wineries, but I can't imagine that many people go to quite the effort that Doug Tunnell does on his rustic plot of land literally in the middle of nowhere.  Though he is only certified at the organic level, I feel his tendency is really toward biodynamic practices.  These types of wine-growers subscribe to the practices set forth by Steiner in the 19th century, the premise of which is to listen to the earth in regards to your treatment of the vine.  Whether you believe in the validity of biodynamics is personal, of course, but it's hard to deny that Brick House produces some great wine once you have tasted it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saving Mangalica Pigs from Extinction by Eating Them

Something new just popped up on the menu at work...  Mangalica Ham.  Being the diligent employee that I am, I went scurrying to my computer to get more information.  My curious mind won't allow me to just sit in complacency without knowing as much detail as I can about something that is new to me.  I had lots of questions.