The King Returneth… An Uber App Review, Capellini and A Lot of Theatre Talk…

Image

My husband, John,  returned from the 2014 TCG National Conference in San Diego last night  feeling renewed and excited, having learned a lot more about the play writing arena.  He feels that this conference really helped him elevate his endeavors to a more professional level.   He saw many one act plays and worked with some notable Hollywood writers, such as the guys that wrote the HBO series, “Hung”.

It was fun to see how this conference sparked his enthusiasm and breathed new life into his ardor for play writing.  Can’t wait to see what he does next.  He is now urging ME to write a play and to attend next year’s conference with him.  I hope to be able to do that, but since I still have another year of my grad program to do, it isn’t likely that I will be able to accomplish it just yet.

One can dream, however.

Image

Global Citizenship is one of TCG’s four core values (Artistry, Advocacy, Diversity and Global Citizenship), underscoring the organization’s  belief that the future of the U.S. professional not-for-profit theatre requires a connection to the international network of theatres, artists and other cultural leaders.   John loved how the group promotes cultural and aesthetic diversity, and learned about many  of those things as they apply to playwriting in this context.

This was a good thing.  I’m so happy that he went, and I love the fire that attending seemed to have lit under him.  His voice sounded so excited as he spoke of it all, and I was glad to hear that. Can’t wait to see what he does next.  He also got some excellent leads toward production deals for his own work.

In other news, I  had a nice meal of capellini with fresh, organic tomatoes, peppers and basil waiting for him when he got home.  I served it with some pistachio-encrusted asparagus and some of the organic zucchini that we picked last weekend, cooked  in a light white wine sauce with Hawaiian sweet onions.  I also made a nice salad of sliced tomatoes, avocado and other earthly delights.  It was delicious, and John was appreciative of my efforts.

Image

We ate slowly, sipped wine and had a lovely visit after he got home. I loved listening to him talk about his time in San Diego, and I had fun filling him in on everything that has been going on here…and no, this isn’t us in the pic below.  Just illustrating someone else eating FISH, which I, the vegetarian, never eat .

meal

While in San Diego, John tried out the UBER app on his iPhone for the first time.  He is now quite enthusiastic about it, so I think it will be regularly used during our future travels.  The app is one that enlists a network of private drivers to run a cab service that is a fraction of the cost of regular Taxis….and the experience is much more pleasant than that provided by the usual cab service, so he was happy.

Image

It is a little hard to explain exactly how this app works, but the concept goes a little something like this:  Users download the app for either iPhone or Android platforms, and then use it to signal their needs for a ride.  Within a few minutes (John reported less than 5 minutes every time he used it.) nice, shiny black cars show up to take users to their destinations.  Since the user’s credit card is already configured to the mobile app used to call for the ride, the payment and tip are both charged automatically, so no cash is exchanged.  John said service was perfect, and that he enjoyed using this app very much.

John and I both love San Diego.  We stay there from time-to-time, in our timeshare near Balboa Park, but this trip was all business, and I was busy here in Portland, so I stayed behind this time.

Image

I’m glad that he is home now.  He still sleeping this morning, and I am getting ready to make some Meyer lemon pancakes with blueberries.  The aroma will wake him, and when he wakes to the smell of something delicious on the stove, he is in an excellent mood all day…so cooking this morning, is a win-win.

Doctors Without Borders Auction ….again

lv john

My husband is leaving this morning for the Theater Communications Group convention in San Diego.  This is a huge deal for John, who has been working diligently on his 4th play , and who has many irons in the fire in terms of networking and production. I am feeling anxious, as his heart has been giving him problems lately.  His coloring is bad.  He is short of breath, and I’m worried…but far be it from me to ask him to refrain from doing what he loves to do.  I’m happy that he is happy.    He leaves with high hopes, while I have full confidence that he will come home with either a deal, or firm leads toward a production deal.  The reviews of his work have been quite promising, thus far….so we’ll see….

kim butterfly

So, apart from cleaning our home from top to bottom in preparation for the arrival of a guest,  I was thinking that I should plan to get down to my studio and start to work on some of the guitar installation that I want to do.  However, when my friend, Kim Larson, posted the  picture (above) of the beautiful mosaic that she created for the 2014 Doctors Without Borders auction, I felt a wee twang of …I don’t know….something…over having been left out this year.  I wrote to Lin Schorr, the woman that coordinates the event and asked, “Has my past work not been up to par?”  Why wasn’t I asked to participate this year?

typing

I have been so busy, and this is the first extended break from school that I’ve had since I started my masters program. I have literally been working from 10-18 hours a day on some days.  Really working HARD, between work and school.  Now that I have a break,   I really want a constructive project that I can sink my teeth into.  She wrote back to tell me that, of course, I wasn’t left out!  I AM on the list and my piece is due on August 1!  So now I’m in panic mode.  As soon as I get back from driving John to the airport, I shall begin to design something.  These pieces are small…only 10″ x 10″ and this year, we can do whatever we want…so I might do a 3-d object, or I might just stick with a flat piece.  We’ll see.  I am very happy about the prospect of again creating something that will benefit others in a charity auction.   This is how I roll.  When I experience something stressful, as I am experiencing at this time in my life for a number of reasons, the best way to handle it is to do something for someone else.  Since Kim did a butterfly, I don’t think I’ll make one of my own butterflies.  (below)  Mine pale in comparison….not that it is a competition, but I think I should come up with a different design.

flutterbyFor those that aren’t familiar, Doctors Without Borders delivers independent emergency medical care to victims of armed conflict.  They administer relief in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters and they fight deadly epidemics in over 70 countries around the world.  Whenever I start to become self-absorbed over some problem that is occurring in my life, I consider those who have it much worse than I do…and I reach out to help.  It is a humbling experience, something that makes me feel proud.

Lin Schorr has coordinated a large group of international artists that create and donate our work that will be shown at the Northville Art House, 215 W. Cody in Northville, Mi.  from November 7 – December 6.  There is also an online auction at BiddingForGood.com where our pieces will be auctioned off during the last two weeks of the exhibit.

I am so proud to be a part of this project and to have been a part of other projects that Lin has put together for charity.  I find that when I am going through stressful times (as I am right now), doing something for someone less fortunate always gets me back on track.

So now…it’s off to the airport….then back to the drawing board!  I’ll have to come up with something cool and unique this year.  I’m ready.

 

 

La Vecchia – Reno, Nevada

René Best guitarist
Image

La Vecchia is a lovely Italian restaurant in Reno, Nevada that is owned by chef Alberto Gazzola.  Let me tell you.  This guy knows what he is doing!    The restaurant is  nestled into the hills above Reno where the view enables one to see the lights twinkling down below during dinner.  The place has been completely overhauled from its former incarnation, and transformed into a posh romantic atmosphere with a much-needed touch of class and refinement.

antonio

Since we were in the Reno/Tahoe area to celebrate our anniversary, we thought we’d try something special.  When we asked our hotel concierge to recommend something   romantic and  good, he didn’t miss a beat in telling us that La Vecchia was the best Italian restaurant in Reno.  After two other people told us the same thing, we were sold!  After our experience there, we believed them all.

 First, apologies.  As you can see from my rather bad photos, we were in a low light atmosphere, which was great for a romantic ambience, but not so great for iPhone photography.  Because my phone didn’t do justice to the place, I nabbed a few of these photos from La Vecchia’s website to add with my own.                                      René Best guitarist

La Vecchia  is  lovely inside.  It is well-appointed in a sort of hip decor-meets-modest traditional… with a few mid-century modern touches.   I especially  enjoyed  the cylindrical light fixtures.  I also liked their tasteful  choices in art.  In particular, there were some framed cloth pieces that I suspect were Marimekkos.  They were very nice,  and tastefully placed throughout the restaurant.  Little touches such as these go far to warm up a place and give it a welcoming ambiance.  I had heard that as it dwindled toward its crash and burn state, the former restaurant had a few fish pictures, loud music and TACOS as part of their “Italian”  cuisine. La Vecchia is clearly in a league of its own, and has transformed the place into a fine dining establishment.

 It  was also clearly decorated by a professional.

pavaratti

When we walked in the front door, we both chuckled about the framed photo of Luciano Pavarotti standing with  Enzo Ferrari.   I was (and still am) a HUGE Pavarotti fan….along with most of the rest of the world, I know.    His renditions of Puccini’s work was absolutely unsurpassed, in my humble opinion.  He brought me to emotional tears many, many times…but in a good way.   During his career, I probably saw Pavarotti a dozen times ,  so it was nice to see his smiling face as a welcome to the restaurant.   Paired with Enzo, neither John nor I could think of a more appropriate Italian welcome!    Our granddaughter’s uncle  drives a Ferrari, and named his son Enzo, after Mr. F …..and that is a bit of a joke with us….so we got a private chuckle out of seeing the photo.

 The uber-gracious  hostess showed us to our seats in the main, carpeted dining area.  The place was packed on a Tuesday night, which we heard is typical there,  but a table had just opened up, so thankfully,  we were seated  almost immediately.  We sat by a wide bank of windows in a part of the restaurant that was formerly an outdoor patio.  The current owner had it enclosed to expand the dining room while maintaining half of the open air atmosphere for diners who prefer to dine alfresco.  It added a nice touch.   I had heard that the former restaurant had been rather cramped in that area.  La Vecchia  is nice and spacious with plenty of room between each table.

la vecchia reno

There was a little room on the side as well, that had a more casual feel.  The brick walls lent themselves to a more casual feel than that of the main dining area where we ate.

la vecchia room

One thing that my husband and I noticed right away was how happy the staff seemed to be working there.  This, it seems,  is always a sign of a good restaurant.   The staff at La Vecchia is obviously treated well, or they wouldn’t have been so great at their jobs….and they were.   We chatted with two different waiters as well as the hostess.  All reported that business is great, and this is what we witnessed, too.   Our waiter was gregarious and intelligent and very knowledgeable about the food, which we appreciated.  Everyone who helped us that evening was quite courteous and good at what they did; very professional, yet at ease.

We began our La Vecchia adventure with cocktails, namely the house special martini.  The idea of cheese in my martini did not appeal to me much at first, but I was happy that I tried it.  It was crafted with house-infused rosemary vodka and Absolut citron, served up with a fresh sprig of rosemary and double blue cheese stuffed olives.  The rim of the glass was dusted with some tangy, salty parm.  Delicious, much to my surprise!  Differently delightful.  Wish I’d had two!

While we sipped, our waiter brought us a basket brimming with house made, bread that I *think*

Imagewas salty pane casareccio di genzano.  It was light and crispy and tasted so good with the nice, aged balsamic vinegar and wonderful, high quality olive oil.  Could have made a whole meal out of the bread alone!

la vecchia

 

Our dinner wine was probably a cheat.  The owner of this restaurant has a very nice collection of boutique wines from Italy, and we should have tried one or two… but we both love Oregon so much that  when we saw our favorite, silky, creamy Argyle Pinot Noir, we had to go for it…just out of a sense of loyalty, I suppose.   This wine has never let us down with its hints of ripe plum and sweet black cherries.  We could taste mushroom and chocolate spice on the back of our tongues .    This is a wine that has a nice, long finish and is best sipped very slowly….perfect for a wedding anniversary celebration.  And…  It is perfect for a one-glass dinner.  Next time, we’ll try the Italian.

argyle

We began the meal with one of the best  salads either of us had ever eaten.  Our plates were lined with paper-thin, crispy, house-made parmesan wafers, upon which organic baby spinach leaves gently rested, topped with roasted pistachios, poached pears, and the best red wine vinaigrette either of us had ever had.   Albeit very simple, the salad was absolute perfection!

Image

We both had the Northern Italian wild mushroom ravioli (Ravioli Misto Bosco) as our main course. This is a simple dish, consisting of lightly sauteed shrooms stuffed into rectangular pillows of handmade pasta.  The cream sauce was garnished with fresh chopped shallots. There was absolutely no chicken stock in it….no MSG…nothing nasty at all.    It was divine!    I gave up cooking with cream years ago, but didn’t think it would hurt to splurge this time.  It was, after all, a special occasion.  The flavor was rustic and delicate at once, satisfying, without being cloyingly overfilling.  We dug it, but it left NO room for dessert.

I must apologize for this picture.  The lighting makes this sauce look thick and lumpy and it wasn’t at all.   The effect of my camera in the low light caused it to appear this way.  There was nothing bad about this sauce at all.

Image

We finished off the meal with cups of rich, Italian roast coffee….and kisses.  We will return to La Vecchia!   Until then….addio miei amici!

Oh, and thank you for a lovely anniversary dinner, Dr. Freed.  I might spend another decade or two or three with you. 🙂

johnsf