a Cheap Holiday: 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Spent this past weekend in DC, amusing and comforting poor Princess. Her husband is off on a 6-week business trip in Europe and she's sick of having to cope with everything alone. I know this makes Princess sound like she's incapable, but she's not. She's lived on her own before, she knows how to get things done. But I'm sure she feels she didn't get married just to have hubby run off, even if it is for business. And her having to deal with roof damage as a result of Hurricane Isabel--and the subsequent dousing of her collection of Prada shoes and Yohji Yamamoto business wear--has done little to lighten her spirits. So I made the drive down to cheer her up.

Before I embarked, I warned her that I could not spend a lot of money or eat a lot of food, as I'm off to London this week for the Rubber Ball. Why do I even attempt to set these parameters? They were quickly disregarded, like a dust mote on the spring breeze. For lunch on Saturday, she carts me off to Mixtec in Adams Morgan, for what she considers to be the best home-cooked Mexican food in DC. And I must agree, it's fine stuff. Even in the midst of stuffing ourselves on beef soft tacos, she exclaims there is a posh tasting dinner created by chef Jose Andres at the Cafe Atlantico Minibar that we simply must go to and immediately begins dialing the number on her cell phone. As befits Fate, we secure the last two seats for the 6pm seating. Ironically, even as we are driving to the restaurant almost 3 hours later, Princess is still complaining that she is full from our late lunch. "You better cowboy up!" I howl mercilessly. "At the prices we're going to be paying for this thing, you better get your chow on again!"

We park ourselves briefly at the downstairs bar until the maitre d' ushers all attendees to the Minibar upstairs. The Minibar is exactly as the name implies: a small bar with six stools, strongly resembling your standard sushi bar. Behind the bar stood two young, and quite cute, sous chefs. Princess and I manage to sit ourselves down in front of the cutest and chattiest one. Beginning with a tiny saucer of chicken curry flavored popcorn (freshly popped as the chef peered over his shoulder to chat with us), the meal then proceeded through 33 "bites" of food. Basically, a high-falutin tapas event. Given that chef Jose Andres opened the highly successful tapas bar, Jaleo, in DC, this is not unexpected.

What is unexpected is how well many of the more bizarre-sounding "bites" actually tasted. A dark chocolate truffle with a center of foie gras and tamarind? Tasty. Bites of watermelon with olive oil and balsamic vinegar topped with such items as trout roe or parmesan. Divine. A skewer of foie gras wrapped with freshly made vanilla cotton candy? Utterly bizarre and pretty darn good. Each bite is prepared by hand before you, as if custom-ordered. Then, the sous chefs present each selection to the guest simultaneously, as if setting a stage. Given this intimate setting, it was not unusual for guests to chew a bite, contemplate its uniqueness, then quiz one of the sous chef or the other executive chef, Katsuya Fukushima, about the inspiration for the bite or about its preparation. This occasionally leads to some bantering about, all of which is nearly immediately extinguished when Jose Andres himself walks onto the scene. Suddenly, the very chatty sous chefs appear studious, acutely aware that their Master is peering over their shoulder. Not that everyone suddenly become dour, just...more...sedate.

One may not imagine that 33 little "bites" could fill one up, even in the absence of a huge Mexican lunch. Even though the variety of the bites does much to whet the appetite, the leisurely pace of service does much to encourage satiety. It had been awhile since I actually spent two whole hours eating a dinner and it was certainly the most foie gras and caviar that I've had in a good ten years. For a very special evening where dinner is the show, I highly recommend the Minibar's tasting dinner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sometimes it's best just to say "fuck it."

Monday, September 22, 2003

If you are not reading James Lileks' blog on a daily basis, then you are living in a hole of woe and despair.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

What does it mean when I feel more comfortable accompanying a friend to observe him getting his nipples pierced than I do going to an average bar to drink with a friend and her sisters? What does it mean that I feel more at-home wearing a corset and hanging out with people that flog each other at an S&M dance event than I do making small talk with a so-called "normal" guy by a pool table? Does it mean anything? Does it mean anything that I weep in the car while driving home because I find PJ Harvey's voice so pure and the gravity of her lyrics so pressing and piercing?

I went with a male friend today to lend moral support as he was getting his nipples pierced. He's a very average-looking man, with a very corporate job. He and I were laughing about being a freak that can hide in plain sight. He mentioned he saw a bumpersticker that said "I give off sounds that only other freaks can hear." It was both silly and poignant and honest and whimsical.

I know that I'm not alone. The Gospel of Thomas the Apostle, one of the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi and later rejected by the Church as heretical, writes: "Jesus said: If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." I know there is an entire freak community that I can turn to, that perhaps even normal people feel isolated at times. But sometimes the comfort, the security of normalcy feels completely beyond me, like a luxury that I can never be allowed. It must be reassuring, to have normal concerns, normal aspirations, normal fears, normal relationships, normal interests. But I don't think I will ever know that.
Staged bodily fluid update: apparently pina colada mix makes an acceptable, edible spunk substitute.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Talk about your bizarre turns in conversation and party ideas...

A friend of mine is stage managing a new play which will be employing copious amounts of staged bodily fluids. The difficulty is that the stage blood and cum have to be edible as well. In most cases, stage blood and cum can be easily and cheaply produced, but typically using inedible ingredients. So she and I were on the phone brainstorming this issue:

Her: "OK...usually you use Ivory dishwashing soap for cum, but the actor is going to lick it off his hands and we don't want to give him the trots."

Me: "Hmmmmm...have you thought about whipping up some egg whites?"

"Nice idea...but there's a storage issue. We don't want to give the actor salmonella."

"Good point. How about coconut milk?"

"I've been thinking about corn syrup whipped up with some powdered sugar."

"That's really going to be hell to clean up afterwards. And I would still try mixing up some coconut milk in it, cause cum is slightly opaque, you know."

"Hell, it's been so long since I've seen the stuff personally, I can't remember what it looks like."

"I think this calls for a 'experimenting with fake body fluid recipes' party!"

"Yeah, and we have to invite the boys, cause they're the experts in what this stuff looks like."

Voila...a new party idea is born!