Friday, May 28, 2010

consumerism WOW: instructions and illusions

Somehow, Adam P. Knave and I BOTH found time to look at things available for purchase on the Internet! And then discuss the things we looked at and kinda insult each other! (Don't worry, kids -- we're just foolin'.) For the record, these are all things that I sorta totally want. And after Adam guesses why I want them, I'll explain to you why he's never been wronger.

A note of warning: This edition of Consumerism WOW includes items with vulgar words written on them! If you're offended by that sort of thing, you might want to consider an alternative news & entertainment source than a) my blog specifically right now and b) the Internet probably all the time.

Thing #1

Adam: When Lauren wants to get her drank on, that kid don't play! See what I did there? Yeah you do. You want this shirt just so you can be as clear as humanly possible. When it's time for you to drink, don't bring you no problems.

Lauren: Drankin’ is serious business when you’re me! I only have a tequila and a half worth of booze to avail myself of during any given “booze time” before I’ll start giggling and having to lean on things and otherwise being useless. I cannot afford to be careless when booze time begins, as the general public should be made aware.

Thing #2

Adam: Why do you keep trying to convince people the cake is a lie, Lauren? Why? The cake is real. I was told so myself. Why must you help spread lies? Don't you trust GLaDOS? DON'T YOU?

Lauren: I tend to be SLIGHTLY less trustful of people who try to set me on fire. You should know that and also stop trying to fax me lit matches.

Thing #3

Adam: Sometimes after you get your drink on you wake up confused, and yet hungry. So you want this to remind you how to cook meat - the Ellis Way. Perhaps you should have less to drink and more cake?

Lauren: My wacky hypoglycemia pretty much means that cake DOES make me drunk. (Except cake that’s a lie. That cake is okay for even hypoglycemics to eat.) So your plan would still lead to me waking up hungry & desiring instructions on how to fix said hunger. Except I’d never cook steak that way, even impressionably hung over from booze/cake, ‘cause I like steak rare. I think I want this so that I can hang it on the wall and then when people bug me while I’m baking I can point to it emphatically, and they’ll wander off and read it and maybe their heads will explode a little, and I’ll be left to bake in peace.

Thing #4

Adam: You secretly love the Tick and Arthur and hope that's what everyone thinks of when they see this. It's all good, We all love Arthur, Lauren.

Lauren: I. Oh holy spoon that TOTALLY looks like Arthur’s head! No wonder Rapture was so weird, it was full of The Tick cosplayers! But no really, I just think merch that isn’t also an overt advertisement is ultra classy.

Thing #5

Adam: See? CAKE! Totally not a lie! Asparagus cake though may not be recommended. Why would you try to eat asparagus cake, Lauren? Do you need to remember how to cook again?

Lauren: No no, this is another clear example of the cake being a lie. Asparagus cake is not cake. The Cake is actively lying to me. I’m trying to start a t-shirt collection with a theme. (They’ve never tried to set me on fire though, which gives them one up on SOME murderous robots and authors I know.)

Thing #6

Adam: Does this shirt admit that Mario is a little commie? I mean... does it? Is that what you're trying to say? That you think Nintendo is a commie hive of scum and villainy? Are you secretly working for GLaDOS after all?

Lauren: I just think it’s important for Miyamoto-san to be recognized as the invincible revolutionary that he is! I haven’t asked about Mario’s political leanings. Also, if I don't trust GLaDOS to not set me on fire, I definitely don't trust her to get me my paychecks on time. ALSO, I like communists! Haven’t we previously determined that you’re a communist?

Thing #7

Adam: You like to confuse people, don't you? People who stare at your chest. You want them confused. So that you can brain 'em but good. We all see through your plan.

Lauren: There is no part about your statement that isn’t true. I’m glad everyone’s cottoned on to it, though! It’s more of a challenge to brain people when they’re prepared for it, and I enjoy challenges that involve braining.

Thing #8

Adam: So let's recap. You had too much to drink. You forgot how to cook and think cake is a lie. Then you ask Warren Ellis "How do I make meat edible?" and yet you still long for something and it isn't asparagus cake. So you need to go next door, say, and deal with shit. Take shit into your own hands. But... again with the too much to drink and what order and oh, look, a handy map. You like t-shirts and such that tell you how to do things. You like them a little TOO much.

Lauren: How can a person like wearable instructions too much?? They’re helpful reminders AND excellent ways to not be naked in public, BOTH. I like being knowledgeable and clothed even more than I like communists.

Thing #9

Adam: Bad. Ass. Editing. Poster. I got nothing but love and respect for that.

Lauren: ^____^ I want to hang this in my office so that I can be the badass envy of all the other copy editors.

Thing #10

Adam: Wait, what? No. Why do you want a panda case that looks like a penis? Penis panda holds your eye makeup? And pens? What? No. Just... no. Explain yourself, Lauren! And do not blame the drink!

Lauren: Can I blame Warren Ellis’s meat, then? No? hrm. I think I’ll blame YOU for introducing the idea that sometimes Tarepanda totally does look like a penis. The panda and I were innocent before we met you, Adam. Are all communists so Freudian all the time?

And then Adam wandered away to go find images of genitalia hidden in everyday objects, and I took a lot of vitamin C and hoped really really hard that I was NOT in fact getting a cold on the day of my birthday party, which also happened to be the day before I flew to Virginia for my cousin's wedding. Happy consuming, folks!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jacksonville can haz food culture

An open note to friends (and enemies who nonetheless read my blog): I must apologize to any of you who have been in Jacksonville, Florida in the past 3 weeks who haven't been to two completely fabulous restaurants and one inexpensive & beer-filled brewery. It's all my fault. I should've told you sooner. If there's still time, listen close:

13 Gypsies, a tapas joint with about 7 tables and a menu that manages to encompass cuisines stretching from West Asia to Europe, feels immediately like home -- like a dear friend is cooking for you. A dear friend who specializes in warm, joyful flavors in quintessential combinations, absolutely drinkable sauces, and the freshest, softest, most flavorful grilled flatbread, perfect for soaking everything else up. A dear friend with whom you need to make reservations in advance -- they've got a well-deserved reputation for excellence at extraordinarily fair prices, and especially after being featured on Food Network just this month, 13 Gypsies is going to be booming. I particularly recommend the Roman Gnocchi (cooked in bricks rather than dumpling form), the curries, and ordering a salad so that you have something to cleanse your palate between plates.

I didn't make it into the dining room proper of Orsay, but can tell all omnivores that going to Orsay is imperative due to the lounge alone. Its menu and decor reminded me of Abattoir with a touch more tactile style thanks to the fancier seating & plating -- think if Urban Outfitters were a) actually classy and b) served house-made charcuterie. We shared around several plates during their ludicrously worthwhile cocktail hour (from 4 to 7, all appetizers & cocktails are discounted and raw oysters are half price), and everything was just delightful. I'm still infatuated with their gamey, meaty duck rillette, topped with just enough creamy fat and served in (for serious) the cutest li'l lion-faced pot ever; their lightly roasted oysters, served on the half shell along with bits of bacon to compliment the brine, bits of spinach to compliment the brightness of the meat, and creamy cheese to bind the flavors together; their generous cheese plate; and the priciest raw oysters they had on the menu that day. Their cocktails were all a bit on the sweet side for me, but I'd order their pear jalapeño margarita, layered with flavors of sweet green pear and warming green heat, any time. My other favorite was their Blood Orange Martini, which felt like the least healthy smoothie ever, but I'd save it for a dessert replacement.

When the tap room of Bold City Brewery is open, you can order a sample flight of everything they've got on tap for free, so long as you buy two drinks afterwards. With so much to choose from, direct-to-consumer prices, a friendly (if cramped) crowd, and even some family-style food to purchase if you get hungry, you'll want to stay anyway. My tastes in beer run dark & roasty, but I loved their crisp, clean Killer Whale Cream Ale and complexly floral & citrusy Chinook IPA. I chatted a bit with co-owner & site manager Susan Miller, who said that the scary leap and hard work it's taken to help her son open the brewery has been more rewarding and felt more like fun than anything she ever experienced in corporate management, but hearing it from her was almost superfluous -- the Miller family's passions for good beer and showing people a good time shone in every pint poured and every word spoken by their staff.

And now you know! And knowing is the half of the battle that doesn't involve driving ~5 hours to Jacksonville and eating tasty things while you're there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

restaruant: Canoe's river garden

Went with a few lovely people to the equally lovely Canoe a couple weeks back on a Wednesday evening -- they're hosting a series of musical evenings out on their lawn, serviced by a brand-new bar on the edge of the river. They've hired my friend Juliana Finch on to manage the music, and built a little stone patio -- just the size for just enough sound equipment to make an acoustic set happen -- for her and the other performers she's bringing in. It was a tad bit chilly that night, but now that it's warmed up past 70 it'll be paradise -- as scenic a view as you'll get of the Chattahoochee framed by Canoe's signature aesthetic style (which mixes enough modernity in with its quaint riverboat concept to make it more posh than kitschy), a staff that's ferociously polite and gracious, handmade cocktails with Springy flavors, and a menu of small plates all sturdy, warming, and portioned to share.

We tried most everything on the riverside menu, and it was all worthwhile. And though still not cheap, it's quite reasonable for Canoe -- we shared 7 dishes and 7 drinks among the 4 of us, and the total bill came just shy of $100. Here's what we tried:

The snacks: The lightly textured edamame hummus tasted bright and green with herbs and garlic, and came with two types of breads for dipping -- one a crisp flatbread and one lightly toasted and chewy. The potted chicken liver pate came with two fruit jellies (one soft and spreadable and one gummi-like) for a contrast of acid, and four triangles of crispy bread for building bites on. The pate was smooth, creamy, and on the light end of the potted meat spectrum (which was nice for the setting), but the bread, despite its good buttery flavor, was the one negative point in the meal for me, too crumbly to handle and with too few slices served to compliment the generous portion of pate.

The sandwiches: The miniature version of their duck & beef burger was juicy and pink; topped with an omg-cute quail egg cooked a perfect over-medium, a slight slather of something mayo-like, and lightly pickled radicchio; came with a small side of storebrand-shaming waffled potato crisps; and mostly made me want to go inside and order the larger one. The roast beef sandwich was possibly my favorite dish of the evening, a combination of bright tomato, earthy cheese, and savory, meltingly thin-sliced beef on bread just crisped & chewy enough to stand up to the toppings. (I adore Canoe's fancy dishes, but their ability to make simple ones glow, gastronomically speaking, is my favorite thing about the place.)

The plates: The smoked salmon served over crunchy grated potato croquettes with creamy caper dressing, one of the dishes I'd tried at their brunch, was just as good as I remembered -- all those different textures and salty, fatty flavors form a highly snackable dish. (We ordered a second plate of it during round 2, and everyone had seconds.) The tiny lamb shortribs were tender and smoky, with complimentary tang provided by the minimally messy sauce and the pickled relish that they come plated with.

The drinks: Their boozy Chai cocktail was a minty and delicately spiced mix of whisky and tea, like a julep gone just a little Bollywood. The bartender sold three of us on a new thing called a Spring Lemongrass, made of cucumber vodka, a light sake, lemongrass syrup, and a curl of lemon peel, which was the most refreshing and scene-appropriate drink we tried. We also ordered two variations of a drink involving lime juice, muddled basil (strained out, yay), and rhubarb bitters -- if you try one, I recommend asking for it with gin instead of vodka for more of a flavor punch.

Being out there on Canoe's lawn, the sun setting behind their lit logo with music and grillworks both wafting, I never would've thought that 6 months previous, flood water rose to the level of their hanging garden lamps and came all the way into their kitchens. Canoe is a restaurant more than recovered -- it's blooming. Go for the music series -- it's running every Wednesday through Friday from now til at least the end of May -- and see for yourself.

Friday, May 7, 2010

event: A Fight to the Death CD release

Very occasionally I put down my Rock Band mic for long enough to go watch people play actual instruments. Instruments that in no way remind me of Simon. You look dubious about the wisdom inherent in this, and dudes, I know. It has to be worthwhile.

This show will be worthwhile.

Thanks largely to their roaringly successful Kickstarter campaign (small thanks, I have garnered, are also due to whisky & beer), my A Fight to the Death-shaped friends are throwing a release party for their new album, Gesture of a Gentleman, at the Star Bar on Saturday, May 15th. Adron is slated to open with a set starting at 9:00, which in bandtime means that probably they'll go on around 10:00 and AFTTD will start somewhere near 11:30.

A Fight to the Death's poster for their Gesture of a Gentleman CD release party. It's oldschool.

AFTTD is what you get when you give high-functioning geeks who like folk & jazz a slap upside the head with a Tesla coil made by gypsies. You can preview/download some of their songs if you don't believe me.

For those who've never been to Star Bar, it's a dive with lane bumpers: small, smoky, and noisy, with stiff drinks, cheap PBR tall-boys, a fairly clean ladies' room, and decent temperature control upstairs. Behold their Elvis shrine while you're waiting for the band to start, step out onto their porch downstairs for fresh air without having to put down your drink, and if their photobooth is working, make yourself a souvenir film strip to cherish/angst about later. If you're offended by paying for parking, find a spot on the street in the residential area behind the bar (I can always find one on Euclid Terrace) and walk a couple blocks.

Come say hi if you see me there!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finch & Knave, live on stage 5-14-10

ATTN: People of Atlanta:

If you've been wondering whether this Adam P. Knave cat who I keep talking about working with actually exists in three full dimensions, here's your opportunity to find out! In an exclusive, one-night-only engagement, Mr. Knave will be performing readings of his works and other verbal shenanigans on stage at Java Monkey, the independently owned café and beer bar nestled snug against the social spine of Decatur. He'll be accompanied by one Juliana Finch, who will delight the assembly via her wit and vocal works, being armed only with her vim, verve, and an acoustic guitar.

These wonders, having been Christianed "Forgive Us Our Bus Passes", will begin at 8 o'clock in the evening of Friday, the 14th of May, in this year of minor miracles, 2010! The show is free and open to the public, limited only by the local capacity laws. Come one, come all!

Flyer for the Adam P Knave and Juliana Finch performance, Forgive Us Our Bus Passes. It's a Venn diagram, with Adam in one circle, Juliana in the other, and 'one awesome show' where they meet.