Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dateline: Xi'an, China

It was 1974 and a group of farmers in the suburbs of Xi'an, China, were digging a water well, when they uncovered the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, the self-declared First Emperor of China. This vast army, constructed around 210 BC and currently estimated to include over 8000 warriors, 130 chariots, and 670 horses, were to protect Qin in the afterlife. Maybe he needed all the protection he could get, considering he was not the nicest guy around. Or maybe it was just the result of his over-inflated ego. Regardless of the reason, this massive accumulation of life sized statues must be an amazing site to see in person, with the warriors, chariots and horses lined up in long rows. 
Fast forward to March 2010, Washington, D.C., and the National Geographic Society exhibit of the Terracotta Army. This was one of our reasons for visiting Washington this past weekend. The exhibit concluded the U.S. tour today, March 31. While the exhibit presents only a small portion of the army, it was still a very impressive sight. We were able to see a variety of warriors, musicians, etc.; a couple of chariots; and a couple of horses in a very interesting display with detail explanation of the construction and purpose of the army. One of the most unusual, and surprising aspects of the statues was the unique facial features of each person. The statues were "manufactured" in an assembly line fashion, but the faces were sculpted individually. How thoughtful of Qin to give them each their own personality. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blog Teaser

Frank and I spent last weekend in Washington D.C. We had a great time, and (naturally) ate some great food. Here is a preview of a soon to be posted blog; Jose Andres - Jaleo; Michel Richard - Central; Tabard Inn; Cherry Blossoms, and more 

So, check back in a couple of days for more detail and maybe a photograph or two.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bowled Over

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Gasparilla Festival of Arts, as I mentioned in a previous post. I am always on the lookout for a new piece of art glass, and walked through the majority of the exhibits without finding anything that caught my interest. Then I walked into the exhibit booth of Xochitl Ross, a Melbourne Beach glass artist. Click on her name to check out her site. Well, glass was jumping off the shelves, attaching to me with velcro. This is a common occurrence for me it the object is art glass, some books, and anything Italian. I found two or three pieces that I really liked and settled on the one pictured here. I loved the shape and the color, and the design reminded me of some of the work of Joan Miro. There is something organic about this piece, and I am very happy with my new purchase.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

... The pump'll come off tomorrow. 
So, I gotta hang on til Tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya tomorrow
You're always
A Day
A Way!!!

With apologies to "Annie' and lyricist Martin Chamin

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Occasional Blogger

I know, I know, I have been missing from the blogosphere again. I am in Cycle 2, Day 5 of my chemo, dragging the pump with me everywhere I go. The fatigue set in on Sunday evening. On top of that I am also fighting a head cold and cough. I wear the pump until this coming Friday so only a few more days to go.
Happy Birthday, Cherie;
But on to more interesting events. My dear niece, Cherie, celebrated her 60th birthday (yep, count them 6_0) on Saturday. Cherie, you don't look a day over 59. Just kidding, she doesn't look anywhere near 60, nor did she act much over 16 when she opened one of her gifts - tickets to Michael Buble for that evening in Tampa. To say she was excited would be an understatement. Dinner for Cherie and her daughter, Aubrie, was pre-arranged for them at Spain Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Tampa. (previously reviewed here)
Thank you Jacque:
Saturday evening, Frank and I pulled a couple of recipes from Jacque Pepin's "More Fast Food My Way"; a Beet, Stilton, Apple and Walnut Salad, and Roasted Chicken with Mustard Crust. Click the link and check Episode 204 for the recipes. While Jacque prepared a whole split chicken, we used leg quarters which worked perfectly for the two of us and was very juicy and flavorful. We served it with mashed potatoes. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Seasons 52, Art, and More

A new Seasons 52 opened in Tampa a few weeks ago and I finally visited on Saturday. This is a Darden Group restaurant, but IMHO far superior to their two flagship brands, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. I have dined at the original Seasons 52 in Orlando and another one in Altamonte Springs, so I knew what to expect. The decor is Arts and Craft style, with nice rich wood tones. The service has always been good. The "schtick" is that all entrees are less than 475 calories and their menu changes seasonally. While their calorie claim is accurate, don't look at the nutritional breakdown for sodium levels, although I think we would be shocked by the sodium levels in most restaurants. 
I have not had a bad meal at Seasons 52 and Saturday was no exception. Frank and I started with a shared Grilled Steak and Cremini Mushroom Flatbread appetizer, which was very thin and tasty. Frank ordered the Spicy Chicken Chile Relleno, with goat cheese, which was very good, and just the right amount of bite. I enjoyed the Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout; moist with a nice grilled flavor. For dessert we each had one of their "shot-glass" sized desserts, just the right amount of sweet to finish a nice meal. 
We paired our meal with a couple glasses of Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. 

After lunch, we headed to what my friend Liz refers to as Whole Paycheck Foods to shop for dinner ingredients. Shopping on a full stomach helps, but I wanted to cook, so we probably had more than needed after the nice lunch. We decided on a shrimp dish that we prepared in a cooking class at a B&B in Fernandina Beach, FL many years ago. Appropriately, we found some U-15 shrimp at Whole Foods that were labeled as Mayport Shrimp, so we are of the opinion they were from the waters off Mayport, FL, near Fernandina Beach. How neat ! We also fixed asparagus risotto as the side dish. Here is a non-exact recipe for the shrimp, since I really don't know how much of anything I used - other that about 3/4 of a pound of large shrimp for two people.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan
While heating, add a smashed clove of garlic, for a minute or so, to flavor the oil. (Don't let the garlic burn)
Remove the garlic, and add the shrimp. Be careful not to crowd the shrimp.
Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until they start to brown. Do not overcook the shrimp
When almost done, add the juice from 1/2 - 1 lemon, add 1 minced garlic clove, season with salt and pepper, and finish with some chopped fresh Italian parsley. Cook together for one minute more, and serve immediately.

Art Sunday:
Today, Frank and I met Paul and Libby (of Paul and Libby's World of Travel fame), and the new proud parents of a baby girl, Emerson, at the new Tampa Museum of Art. The new contemporary building is a dramatic improvement over the old building. The exterior space around the museum is much better utilized with a public park, children's playground, and a dog park. Next door, still under construction, it the Tampa Children's Museum, This area of downtown was previously blocked from views of the river, but the new arrangement opens up the river, with views of the University of Tampa. 
The Museum itself seems to have less gallery space, but what there is, is well utilized. You enter a two story atrium with a center stairway to the gallery space, and a Calder mobile hanging from the ceiling. A nice first impression I say. The grand opening exhibit is A Celebration of Henri Matisse. focusing on his printmaking more so than the paintings we usually associate with him. It was a large (170 pieces) exhibit which included a number of wonderful line drawings. The exhibit is well worth a visit. 
As an aside, Paul, and all of us were pleased to see Ellsworth Kelly's "Black with White Triangle" painting in the museum. Kelly is one of Paul's favorites (feel free, my friend, to add any comments)
We had lunch at the SONO Cafe, operated by Mise en Place. While the menu is primarily sandwiches and salads, they are inventive and very good. Click ---> menu, to view the full menu.
We concluded our Art Sunday with a stroll through the Gasparilla Festival of Art, beginning in the park next to the museum and extending to Ashley Drive. I purchased a wonderful piece of art glass to add to my small collection. I will post a photograph of the new acquisition at another time. 
This was a great weekend of food and art, and sharing with good friends. A perfect day in paradise.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cycle 1, Day 15

Sorry that I have been absent from the blogosphere for over a week, but things are fairly routine right now. Yes, I have enjoyed some nice meals, and I am feeling good, but nothing exciting enough to write about on my blog. Like, I love the posts on Facebook that just say things like "Sitting at home, watching TV", or "Going to the store". Sorry, but I really don't care about the daily mundane activities. If I really thought others did, well then I would have a post an hour. 
I don't know what started that rant... but it is out of my system now. 
So, I am in day 15 of the first cycle of my new trial chemo treatment. I have one more week without the infusion pump, then I start cycle 2 next Friday. I am very grateful that the side effects have been minimal so far. 
Now that was a fairly boring post.

That's all I'm Saying