Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Butterflies & Botanicals

The other Friday night, my beloved & I tried a new restaurant. She didn't have anything in mind for dinner, but didn't want to have what I had planned, either. So, I took her to The Saucy Bistro. We were able to have a table on the patio & the air felt so fresh, like we were right by the lake instead of a few miles from it. The service was very friendly & the food was good, too, if a little pricey for me. We shared a combo appetizer of sautéed calamari (fantastic rendition), lamb lollipop and spicy shrimp scampi. I chose filet mignon with wild mushroom reduction & rosemary mashed potatoes for my entrée, while J had seared scallops with a soy-based glaze & a sticky sesame rice cake with wonderfully crisp brown edges. The rice cake was my very favorite thing that we ate that night. For dessert, we split a volcano cake. Good, but not my chocolate nemesis, just as the rest of the meal was good, but not The Winds. As the evening got later, the owner brought tall heaters out to the patio, reminding us of wonderful dinners in Monterey & Carmel (especially the fabulous Forge in the Forest). A woman whose coat we had admired turned out to be the smooth-voiced singer for the evening. After dinner, we stopped by the bookstore, then soaked in the hot tub before heading for bed. The evening was utterly lovely. If the pool had been open, it would have been a perfect swimming night, with the just-past-full moon overhead.

We spent much of the morning in bed, before getting ourselves going to the Westside Market. We had a grand time prowling the stalls there. As we were waiting for our breakfast, a Cornish pasty, we ran into the brother of my very hip friend from high school, Mimi Flaherty. Mimi & I used to go to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse Friday nights, then hang out in the Oregon District browsing the thrift & vintage shops, as well as Paprika's, which sold an eclectic bunch of things like art deco rubber stamps & black & white postcards. She was the friend who called to invite me to Denny's late one Thanksgiving, where we wore vintage clothes & pretended to smoke Eve Menthol 120s, just because we thought it was funny. She was the friend who skipped school with me & went to Cincinnati, with my older friend Rachel (who was skipping work), to go shopping at the fancy department stores and have a chi-chi lunch at the Hyatt. Mimi wore an amazingly garish green vintage gown to the prom, which David Letterman did not attend with her, despite her inviting him. Mimi was cool & we lost touch until very recently, when she moved home from San Francisco with her amazingly gorgeous daughter, Mirrin. Mike was always a pretty nice guy, 3 years ahead of us in school. He seems like he's still a nice guy. We are so new here that is absolutely astonishing to hear my name called out in a public place. We talked a bit about our hometown, about Cleveland and about food. Mimi had told him I was doing restaurant reviews, so he wanted my take on good places to eat here. We will have to have him over to dinner sometime. He seemed lonesome, having only moved here in the past few years himself.

After lunch, we went driving by the lake, checking out the beach possibilities & having a snack at a place called Gus' that seems to have had its heyday already. The clientele were generally older & the menu reflected that. It reminded me of the Apple Tree, a restaurant we used to go to for Sunday dinner after church when I was a kid. We had a plate of nachos, listened to an old woman boss her long-suffering husband around incessantly & then moved homeward for a nap. I had been seized with a deep exhaustion, so I was thrilled when J suggested napping. We woke up so late that cooking anything fancy would have been impractical if not disastrous. So, she permitted me to make the scrambled eggs with basil & cheddar I'd planned for the night before. I made some corn toasties with them & we had cherries, too. She ended up loving it. We had fun watching Bill Engvall on Comedy Central while we ate.

Sunday morning, we left without directions to the church we had attended & liked the week before. I couldn't remember the exit number, so we ended up driving all over Cleveland before giving up & going home to plan our afternoon. We couldn't decide between the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame & the botanical garden, so we rolled the dice & got the botanical garden. It was wonderful!!! Just wonderful! First, we went into the butterfly houses. Amazing! One even landed on me, which felt like an honor. My favorites were the orange Julias & the great big blue ones. The garden in the South American butterfly house reminded me of the Opryland Hotel. We grabbed a bite to eat & then went outside. I love weddings & got to see a bride going about the gardens getting her pictures taken, which is always very exciting for me. I don't know why I adore weddings like I do, but I really do. The flowers for the reception were gorgeous, bluish-purple hydrangeas in low, graceful arrangements. The flowers outside in the gardens were beautiful, too. I would love to take Pie, who is a rose fan, to the rose garden in June. My favorite garden was probably the herb garden, reminding me, with its scented geraniums & knot layout, both of trips to Meadowsweet Herb Farm in Vermont & Carnton Plantation in Tennessee. After our delicious afternoon, we stopped for ice cream, then got serious about getting pictures hung. By the time we sat down to our roast, the apartment looked marvelous!

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