Sunday, December 28, 2014

Graffiato's Goes Creative

Dear Fellow Foodies,
If you watch Bravo TV's "Top Chef," you may have heard of Mike Isabella, a young creative chef who puts his own flavors on traditional Italian cuisine to bring it into the twenty-first century. 
Pizza has never seemed more creative than here, with far ranging options including cauliflower, squash, arugula, and even calamari pizzas. Side dishes excel, with a delicious roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta that I found to be extraordinarily tasty. 
Mike has restaurants in both Richmond and Washington DC, as well as his Greek place Kapnos, which I hope to visit sometime soon. 
Trendy and tastefully industrial inside, his restaurants are deliberately noisy, so this is not the place to have a quiet chat with your lawyer, your grandma, or your first date. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Diner, with Songs by Sheryl Crow

Dear Imaginary Friends,
We recently attended the play "Diner," at Signature Theater. The story was not the most compelling thing about it. The voices were -- so soaring and sweet in the many ballads, that I cannot imagine ever hearing . better anywhere.
The acting and dancing were also Broadway calibre. 
The story is based on Barry Levinson's youth in Baltimore, which was previously released as a feature film, also entitled Diner. 
The songs were written by Sheryl Crow, both music and lyrics. I fell in love with several, including "Please Be There," "Don't", and especially "Tear Down this House," and "Letting Go. " Wow. I also liked "It's Good."
The music really was original and added to the plot line.  Brava, Sheryl Crow! This play belongs on Broadway. 
The fifties were very mysogynistic, and the plot plays that up. It made me squirm. 
The set was terrific. To add to the magic, the lobby was made over into an ersatz Silver Diner. I loved it! 
The downside? Most of the male characters were very hard to like. If I were the writer, I would give them all a rosier future, especially Fenwick. And perhaps a better understanding of women's equality. And lastly, the writer should lose the stripper scene. Not appealing. 

Your imaginary theater lover,
The set, below. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Longwood Gardens in Brandywine Country

The DuPont family is well known for their immense wealth. To those of us who value gardens and horticulture, we also know the family for its love of nature and gardening. Longwood Gardens was founded by Pierre DuPont, head of DuPont and also General Motors, who wished to save the land from development. He summered in an old modest home on the property. 

He built tree houses that integrated existing old trees in their design. An Italian Water Garden is a major feature as is the splendid-in-any-season conservatory. 
 A wonder to behold in the holiday season, the lights are amazing after dark, as they festoon the evergreens and illuminate the dancing fountains. 

Alexandria Scottish Walk Homes Tour

Dear Imaginary Friends,

I had the privilege of touring five historic homes recently on a chilly rainy day. And it was well beyond worth it! I was inspired and impressed by the room decor and the accessories. 

The homes tour benefits the work of the Campagna Center, whose mission is helping disadvantaged women and children. All five homes were lovely and impressive. These pictures are a pastiche of various homes.