Archive | January 2008

Snacking on Foodies!

For its second year, the Macon Food and Culture FOODIE Awards (The Foodies) pulled out the stops. I walked in large, concentric circles around tables of food, picking up things, eating them, and finding them very good. Then I ate chocolate covered untoasted marshmallows on sticks and they were delicious. I then got so nervous, when all the festivities began, I thought I would rather be back in concentric circles being herded around tables eating the very good chicken salad in phyllo shells. I didn’t have time to check and see who made those, but whoever you are, I will be seeing you soon, I hope.

The chefs in training from Polly’s Hospitality Institute received their green scarves in front of a live audience. I was so proud of them, especially since I’ve watched them grow through their words. Watching the look in their eyes change from month to month, from started out in the kitchen feeling overwhelmed by the size of it all to expertly chopping, baking, mixing and being ready to do said chopping, baking, and mixing for the beautiful, local restaurants in the area. It was a great moment to see all of this, their hopes and dreams, coming into fruition.

I was paired with John Jones to do the Top Ten List. The list this year? Top Ten Reasons Why Coffee is Better than a Man or a Woman. John was concerned we’d be a little edgy, but another Jones, Channel 13’s Ben Jones, totally made our jokes feel like they were written by the same people that came up with Knock Knock Jokes. I mean to say, we were very tame in comparison.

I gave a Tribute to Phillip Rossini for the magazine. When I learned that he died, it was right before I had to go out of town for business. By the time I got back, the city was done mourning him. I mean, I know that they weren’t. Anyone who knew him was not done, but I didn’t have an outlet to express how much I missed him. I wrote something for my coffee column, but Gary thought it would be better to just stick to coffee. I think that’s why he asked me to do the Tribute, maybe because he understood that I needed to do that for myself to honor Phillip. It was probably the hardest speaking thing I’ve ever done. My husband told me later that people were asking for me to come back to the stage, but by then, I’d already run off. After it was all over, after I was off the stage, I could finally breathe. It didn’t make the sadness go away, but it made it lighter and for that, I’m glad.

I would like to say that I went to the Tica-Toca Room afterwards and danced the night away to the sounds of Mark Booker and the NeoCats (Mark Booker is always good), but I was fighting sickness with a couple of alka-seltzer and a few advil cold and sinus caplets and I was losing. I hope the ending was as good as the beginning and I can’t wait to see what this upcoming year brings.

Bert’s Bistro

I know I’m a bit late on this, but cut me some slack. I just started this blog.

Bert’s Bistro was always my favourite restaurant to go to. I would save my tips and a good book and chill out in a booth for a couple of hours eating delicious foods, maybe have a glass of wine during a good tip week, and enjoying a slice of tiramisu cheesecake. Before I got married, I would regale my husband with tales of different meals at Bert’s, like the time they fried a piece of salmon with a honey mustard crust. It was delicious, the most interesting way I’ve ever had salmon.

My husband finally agreed to treat me to Bert’s right after we got married. I think he thought that the actuality could not live up to my memories and stories. The night we went was right after Bert’s received it’s liquor license after it’d been without for some time. Alan was letting everyone know that the fountains were flowing with wine by offering complimentary wine tastings to all interested customers. That night I learned about rieslings, which began my current love affair with the wine and my husband learned that there are places that care about food, wine, and people enjoying them together. He now has his own stories to mingle with mine.

My love of downtown and downtown eating started with Bert’s. If I took my friends anywhere, it was to Bert’s. The first time my mother in law and I ate together, it was at Bert’s for lunch. For me, Bert’s was my downtown institution and Alan really loved the community. Everytime I asked him for food donations, even though he couldn’t do much, Bert’s always rocked completely excellent salads or trays of hors d’oeuvres. For the most part, I could always count on Alan and Bert’s (as well as Philip Rossini and Adriana’s) to help out a downtown cause. Especially because of Berts, but also a few other places, downtown was home long before it became the place I lived. I am sad when I walk by Bert’s and know I won’t enjoy another Bert’s Bistro Salad or glass of wine there. I look forward to what’s next, but I can’t help but miss what was.

Another MAS Joint

Okay, to describe the Open Air Painting exhibit in Spike Lee terms is a little ridiculous, but there is a lot going on at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Not only did I enjoy myself at The Art of Macon Comics, but I also showed up in time for Plein Air – the Open Air Painting exhibit by Maddine Insalaco and Joe Vinson. I first heard about it from Eric O’Dell, who met the couple in Italy the past summer. Not only did they give him a primer on what they do, but they also took him on a culinary tour of the Tuscany region. They sound like my kind of people.

In a couple of months, I’ll be heading to Italy myself so I thought I would check out their lecture, see where all they went, things like that. It was very compelling. I am not an art student, but I found myself captivated with what they called the “timelessness” of open air painting. There was little difference between the work done by Maddine and Joe and those done by famous Italian open air painters like Valenciennes and Corot, because they had to work under the same time constraints and working space as those guys did. In a way, the length of time, 2 hours tops and 20 minutes at the least, and the visibility of the brush strokes in open air painting in a time when paintings were praised for the invisibility of the painter, could almost be scene as a precursor to impressionism. In truth, there is a bit of an impressionistic edge to the painter’s need to grasp the fleeting light of day in their work.

I was drawn to a lake in the crater of a volcano, one so still thanks to shielding in that crater, that it was called the mirror of Diana. The lake at Nemi. In pictures, it’s beautiful, the land around it, the castle above it, it’s fascinating. As I talked to Maddine after their lecture at Mercer University, she told me that Nemi was not very far from where we will be staying for the majority of our trip to Europe. All the more exciting.

She also gave me some eating tips for being there that I appreciate. She leads an epicurean tour in November, full of wines and truffles. I would love to be able to afford that.

But more than the possibility of food (and me almost eating something I’m allergic to on opening night) is the beauty of the paintings. Painting on paper, Maddine and Joe tried to emulate, not only in location, but also in craft, the exact movements of the masters. Their work is breathtaking. Even the frames were built by the two, of which Maddine seems very proud.

Go look at my beautiful lake near Nemi and the other open air work by Maddine Insalaco and Joe Vinson. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

Full of It… Art, That Is

Two weeks ago, I went to see the opening of The Art of Macon Comics at the Museum of Arts and Sciences where some old friends were under the spotlight for their work in comic books, whether it was for some other writer or as the writer themselves. I am by no means a part of their journey, but I remember them slaving away at the Jolly Rogers Studio, comic memorabilia filling the walls, half finished work laying in wait on drafting tables, low lights and everything done with a meticulousness that most people don’t get to see. It was extremely fascinating.

Compared to them, I felt like a slouch as a writer. Sometimes getting more than a line on paper takes much work. I’m not even sure how much work these guys do that doesn’t get used, but it has to be a lot. Yet they kept at it. Back in the day, I always expected them to explode at those of us who didn’t really belong, asking our questions, handling their “toys”, looking over their shoulders, but they handled us with a patience that, as I hear it now, was not recognizable in them. But they did. And as I peered at wall after wall of how known they really were in their world of comics, I couldn’t help but be proud of them, answering questions, signing autographs, smiling as if they didn’t have three projects at home awaiting their attention, laughing as if they enjoyed being front and center, although they longed for their four walls and their little drafting table.

I was amazed at the talent before me, even though I did know it existed. It’s important to revel in the talent around us and revel I did. Don’t miss this opportunity to see yet another aspect of the uniqueness this town has to offer.