Family Pipes and Drums: The Meyerson Symphony Center has never seen or heard anything like this! November 26th and 29th; December 3rd and 10th. All shows at 8:00 p.m. The breathtaking sounds of 225 singing men will be accompanied by the spine-tingling majesty of the Lay Family organ plus the roof-raising sounds of 80 brass and percussion players from Frontier Drum and Bugle Corps. Combining the spirit of Broadway hits BLAST and STOMP from herald trumpets to trash can lids, from Santa to the candles and poinsettias - you're in for a fun treat. Benefiting Turtle Creek Chorale. Visit http://www.boxofficetickets.com or call 1-800-494-8497.
Unwrap the Magic - A Children's Christmas party at Rosine Hall at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Presented by the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the morning of Saturday, December 9th is absolutely fun for all children, parents and grandparents. By reservation only, so get your tickets early.
For those who would rather spend an evening in a wonderful home and support the Women's Council's A Woman's Garden at the Arboretum, a patron party December 5th is just your ticket. A portion of all tickets is tax deductible. Visit the website for details and reservations: http://www.womenscouncildallasarboretum.org/
New Year's Eve at the Nasher presented by Bailey Banks & Biddle and sponored by PaperCity: Co-chaired by Heidi and Bill Dillon, the Twilight Ticket entices us to experience the allure of the eve of New Year's in the unparalleled setting of the Nasher Sculpture Center. After cocktails and canapes, guests will be escorted to a translucent tent overlooking the garden to enjoy a four-course dining experience by Wolfgang Puck and join in the Countdown party afterwards.
Make it a very special evening with the Twilight Deluxe Ticket and receive priority seating, limo or car service to and from the gala, luxurious hotel accommodations on New Year's Eve and more.
Twilight Premier Ticket - limited to 10 couples - all of the previously mentioned benefits plus a Mother of Pearl tiara gift and a personal VIP tour for up to 10 guests with Center director Dr. Steve Nash at a future date and more.
Or, if you do dinner on your own and just want to party down surrounded by one of the most significant collections of modern art in the world, join in the fun with The Late Night Ticket, which is the Countdown Party from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Co-Chaired by Christen and Derek Wilson, guests arrive later and join in the party with late night hors d'oeuvres and dessert bites, complimentary full bar, live entertainment and dancing to Emerald City ... they are fabulous! ... and more.
Join the Nasher Sculpture Center before the end of the year and receive great discounts on the New Year's Eve fare and a tax deduction.
Three Big Bands - One Big Night: the 1st Annual New Year's Eve Spectacular presented by AlonUSA benefiting the Communities in Schools Dallas Region Endowment At the Hilton Anatole Dallas, also presented by Modern Luxury Dallas and Barefoot Wine. The bands: Hunter Sullivan | Johnny Reno and the Lounge Kings | The Cary Richards Orchestra Different ticket packages include dinner, casino, raffles, midnight champagne toast, open or cash bar, live entertainment, valet parking, hotel accommodations and more. Visit the website http://www.cisdallas.org or call 214-827-0955, ext. 234.
My evening out in Atlanta this past Thursday night began a month ago when I shared an exit row with a Delta pilot on an American Airlines flight to New York City.
It seemed odd that a Delta pilot would fly American, but Jay, who lives in Dallas and is based in NYC said he snags a seat on whatever airline will get him to the city on time for his next flight out. After we landed at NYC’s LaGuardia airport Jay planned to cab it over to JFK where he would board the plane that he would pilot to Istanbul, Turkey, that afternoon.
Now that’s a commute.
We chatted for a while into the flight then both of us pulled out our reading material. Jay ran though his newspaper and then lamented that with at least an hour and a half left in the air he had nothing else to read.
I jokingly offered the Bon Appetit magazine I had in my backpack thinking he would have no interest.
“I love to cook!” he said taking me up on my offer.
I handed him the magazine and we talked for a few more minutes about the kitchen of our dreams and favorite meals we enjoyed cooking. Then Jay asked, “Do you ever travel to Atlanta?” Occasionally, I said, with tentative plans to be there some time in November.
Next time you're in town check out my cousin’s restaurant, Repast, he said. And then he shared that it had earned a mention in the November issue of Esquire magazine.
I made a note and told him I would.
In an airport terminal somewhere, sometime in the next two weeks I passed a newsstand, picked up a copy of Esquire, and thumbed through it. No way was I going to buy it with that Marilyn-Monroe-looking picture of Scarlett Johansson on the front cover. I hoped no one even noticed that I picked it up, but mission accomplished – Esquire named Repast one of the best new restaurants for 2006.
So a month after my conversation with Jay I’m seated at a table for two in Repast with a colleague, Mike, who lives in Atlanta. It’s a hip, trendy place with a buzz of energy; the food, fresh and delectable.
The real treat of our evening meal, however, did not come from the obvious ambience or satisfying, wonderful food.
It was the unexpected pleasure of conversation with our fellow diners. Since the tables were so close that we could almost bump elbows with those seated next to us, Mike and I struck up conversations with them.
On my left was a couple, regulars at Repast, who lived close enough to walk; on my right, two Atlanta bankers, Dan and Drew, also first-timers at Repast.
As I enjoyed a bowl of French onion soup, dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with almonds, scallops, and wild rice with cranberries and pecans, we chatted about the food, Atlanta, the comeback that this part of the city was making, and a bit about business and our personal lives.
Towards the end of the meal, Joe, Jay’s cousin and Repast owner, stopped by the table at my request. I introduced him to Mike, Drew, and Dan (the married couple had departed by then), and told him to thank Jay for the recommendation.
And I felt like my journey was complete.
But the evening wasn’t over.
The bankers invited Mike and I to join them at one of Atlanta’s hotspots - the Compound. Without solid directions we had a hard time finding the place partly because it is located in a questionable section of Atlanta, but mostly because it is closed on Thursday nights.
So we pulled into a parking spot at the Northside Tavern instead. If it hadn’t been the closest bar after our several dead-end-streets-and-u-turn attempts to find the Compound we wouldn’t have ended up there.
Northside Tavern is the kind of place you wouldn’t give a second look at and you would think twice before stopping in. It's the lack of streetlights, and well, the building is old; the kind of old that says when someone gave birth to this place they never envisioned a bar.
But someone did and lucky us. In addition to serving up liquor they were dishing out Blues on stage.
After relishing the delightful flavors and smells of Repast, my ears were now in for an after-dinner treat at this out-of-the-way-musical-oasis served up by a band called the Breeze Kings.
Lead singer, Carlos Capote’s voice, strong and soulful, made me wish I could sing the Blues. When he wasn’t singing, he was breathing life into his harmonica. And his fellow band members were just as talented on guitar, bass, and drums.
Having never before been a follower of the genre, on this night I was transformed into a Blues fan or at the very least a Breeze Kings fan.
There was no place I would have rather been after dinner that night than the Northside Tavern. It was the perfect ending to a pleasurable evening just like dessert, or a cup of coffee, or an after-dinner drink that follows a great meal; just when you think this is as good as it gets, it gets better.
Thanks to Jay for the kick-start to the evening a month before.
On future flights I may offer up my food magazines to reading-material-deprived fellow travelers even before they ask.
We trade the pleasure of tongue-tingling, flavorful food for massive quantities of quick, easy, and cheap grub. We ingest fast, frozen, and mostly junk food that fills the belly, but leaves our palates wanting. We mistake our lack of satiation as hunger so we snack and over-consume at the next meal searching for that ever elusive sense of savory satisfaction.
Perhaps if we focused more on introducing our palates to a wider range of interesting foods, flavors, and tastes we'd make healthier food choices and consume less.
These were the thoughts I mulled over during a private party in Los Angeles this past week.
I was in Southern California with 5,000 other sales-types and propeller-heads for a software vendor conference that hosted a night at Universal Studios with free food and drink.
So it was on a beautiful Los Angeles evening with just a bit of a chill in the air that I was literally surrounded by food. I couldn’t walk more than 15 yards without bumping into a buffet table or a bar.
I surveyed the heavy-laden tables then filled myself a plate with fried rice and a few other Asian items to assuage my hunger. My stomach stopped growling, but my tastebuds were bored. I could have been dining on scrambled eggs or ravioli for all they knew.
My palate yearned for a spice that would scream "this is fried rice!"; something that would make all 10,000 of my tastebuds do a jig right there in front of the entrance to "Revenge of the Mummy."
But, it was industrial food at its best -- heavy on quantity, short on flavor. Several teams of Sumo wrestlers could have feasted on the leftovers.
“I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills With a truckload of hundred thousand dollar bills Man came by to hook up my cable TV We settled in for the night my baby and me We switched 'round and 'round 'til half-past dawn There was fifty-seven channels and nothin' on”
So his lament was about TV, just think food.
We need to rethink and revolutionize our culture of eating.
Eating should be about the pleasures of the table – the unique flavors of the food and the enjoyment of those with whom we share a meal, not the sheer pursuit of maxing out our bellies every time we pull up a chair.
I’m not advocating a Julia Child’s experience at every meal; satisfying can be simple and more nutritious when we seek first to please, or at least interest our palates with a diversity of food and flavors, fast, frozen, and junk not included.
Our cholesterol counts, blood-sugar levels, and waistlines will thank us.
Our tastebuds will adore us.
(I don’t have any photos to share from my Los Angeles night out, but here’s one from my summer 2006 trip to Italy with Ariel and Hannah. Hannah snapped this photo as we sat next to the canal in Venice enjoying a leisurely meal.)
Wanted to share my email from this afternoon after hearing this tragic news:
Oh, how awful this is. Carl just came home from work and had been talking to the editor of the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald about the story she has featured on the front page of this week's paper about his new DVD "Inside Ten Days" and he mentioned we were going to stay at Robert Whiteside's bed and breakfast next weekend. She told him Robert Whiteside was murdered this week. Shot to death in his own house. Such a tragic loss.
Besides being our dear friend, Robert was a gifted artist, artistan, musician and gentle soul. He and his partner had moved to Mt. Vernon and opened their bed and breakfast, The Veranda, for the past 5 years or so. We were going to stay there next weekend when Carl does his Veteran's Day salute with the DVD. His partner found him Wednesday night, after he returned from a trip to Dallas.
Robert kept his jewelry design business in a separate building in the back and had just emailed me some new designs on a new method he was working with. I'll attach them here. I wore one of his rings today:)
He found a friend in everyone he met and will be dearly missed. Such a tragic death ... to be shot to death! Prayers to his family and friends. We miss him already.
Another note: I met Robert in the late 1980s when I was chairing The Western Stomp, benefiting the March of Dimes Women's Auxiliary. He donated a custom designed and handcrafted belt buckle for the live auction and hosted a party in his new shop on Inwood. That's where the friendship started ... and it has lasted ever since. God bless.
On a beautiful evening a couple of weeks ago I found myself playing bocce ball and sipping wine while watching the sun set over the vineyards of Santa Rosa, CA, with people I barely knew and in the home of a woman I had never met.
I had arrived in this serendipitous moment by some twists and turns of fate along with my willingness to just kick back and enjoy the journey as it unfolded.
Earlier in the week I had boarded a flight to San Francisco in a testy mood.
The rush-hour commute to the airport had been painstakingly slow due to an ill-timed monsoon-like storm. Even though I might have made the trip more easily in a canoe rather that a car, I arrived at DFW on time.
Then I faced my next major trial - TSA screeners at Terminal D who don't practice the art of smiling and who truly believe their mission is to confiscate 12 oz bottles of hand lotion with taped-up nozzles from elderly people clueless about the new liquids-gels-and-aerosols-in-a-quart-size-baggy regulation.
I was selected for additional screening and forced to surrender a small bottle of Purell that had passed through a minimum of two previous security screenings. It had never occurred to me (and other TSA screeners) that the bottle which fit easily inside my baggy exceeded the three-ounce-maximum rule by one simple ounce.
The screener found other contraband in my backpack as well -- a 3 oz bottle of hand lotion dropped in and promptly forgotten after an April visit to the Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa, FL, and 1/2 oz of perfume also out-of-sight and out-of-mind for months. Instead of tossing them, she placed them in my quart-size baggy and sent me on my way.
Somewhere in the world there is a a terrorist plotting evil, but it wasn't a tall, curly-red-head at DFW that morning. What a relief.
With Starbucks in hand, finally, I boarded my 10 am flight.
My seatmate, Tony, settled in next to me after giving up his assigned seat to a married duo so they could sit next to each other. With a perpetual smile, Tony was upbeat with three drink tickets in hand as compensation for his 9 am flight that had been cancelled. You should always ask for drink tickets, he said, you just never know.
We engaged in typical seatmate small talk and before I could protest he bought me a headset so I could watch the in-flight movie; the married duo purchased his as a thank you.
Once airborne, however, I managed only to get the headset plugged in before sleep overtook me.
About half-way through the almost four-hour flight I emerged from my slumber and Tony asked if I was thirsty. He offered one of his drink tickets and suggested a glass of wine. He had already indulged in a cabernet sauvignon and so I took his recommendation. I don’t normally drink so early in the day, but on this flight it seemed the thing to do.
Over a plastic cup of wine from a bottle with a twist-off cap we talked about the reasons for our travel. Mine was business, his was pleasure. Most of us would not describe helping some one move as pleasure, but it was for Tony; the movees, Greg and Kay, husband and wife, were his long-time friends.
Tony's mission was to assist Kay with the final packing and moving of 16-years-worth of accumulated possessions from Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco, to Portland, OR. Greg had already made the move and had started his new job.
By the end of the flight and our conversation Tony had invited me to dine with him and Kay in Santa Rosa. But on this trip, unlike most trips to San Francisco, I did not rent a car and would have no transportation to do so. We exchanged cell phone numbers just in case and parted ways with my attitude correctly adjusted by Tony’s giving spirit and positive outlook on life.
I spent the next 1-1/2 days in meetings with colleagues that concluded just after lunch on Thursday with no one planning to work diligently in their rooms that afternoon.
Three colleagues, (Amanda, Lauren, and Justin - pictured above) whom I had never met with or spoken to prior to this meeting, wanted to make their first drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. As I explained the lookout point and the exit for it just on the other side of the bridge they invited me to join them.
So I did.
It was an incredibly beautiful San Francisco day. We snapped several pictures of ourselves with the bridge and the city in the background, and exchanged the appropriate oohs and ahhs. It was then I suggested we take a short walk on the bridge and then head back to join the remainder of our colleagues for dinner.
Unbeknownst to me when I joined them on this expedition they planned to continue the outing all the way to wine country; Napa was their destination.
I politely protested – don’t you want to have a nice dinner in the city, meet up with the rest of the group?
No, they didn’t.
And so I decided to make the most of it. Given that time was not on our side as it was late in the day, I convinced them to reset our course for Santa Rosa, our best bet for a wine tasting that afternoon.
The effervescent Tony was delighted when I called with the news that I was headed to Santa Rosa with my colleagues. He gave me directions to a local winery, Martin Ray, one of the oldest wineries in California, and to Kay’s house.
Given difficulties with traffic, which surged and slowed the entirety of the drive, we arrived at Martin Ray (vineyards pictured above) just 15 minutes before closing time. The winery was charming and the staff, genuinely friendly, willingly answered our questions and happily poured the requisite three free tastings.
Then we made our way to Kay’s house, less than five minutes down Laguna Road from the winery, off to the left and up a very steep and winding driveway. Seated at the top of a hill the home offered a breathtaking panorama of the Russian River valley (pictured above) and vineyards some still burdened with huge clusters of grapes. This view was not available from any other public vantage point.
While we enjoyed sipping Greg and Kay’s homemade wine and watching the spectacular sunset, Tony (in the photo above) taught us the rules of bocce ball and refereed our game on the court constructed by Greg and Kay behind their house. Kay missed out on the sunset, but joined us for dinner in Santa Rosa.
We returned late that evening to San Francisco and met up with our colleagues most of whom had spent several hours at the bar in the Palace Hotel. Standing in the lobby of out hotel and comparing notes on the evening I was thankful for the offer made to be a tour guide to the Golden Gate Bridge.
As the sun rose that morning I could not have imagined the magnificence of the sunset or the way in which I shared it. In a sense myself and the people who joined me on the hill overlooking the Russian River Valley that evening were strangers, yet we were bonded by our desire to experience life and live it to its fullest at that moment.
We drank in the experience like the satisfying wine passing over our lips and the beautiful sun setting before our eyes.
My afternoon excursion to Santa Rosa was an adventure given like an unexpected, exquisite gift.