Monday, March 23, 2009

da plane, da plane

I wandered through the old Clarendon ‘hood yesterday because I needed to stop at La Chapparel Latino market to snag some queso fresco for the Anaheim and pablano chile stuffed enchiladas (most excellent, if anyone’s asking). The market has a small space just off the front of the store that used to house the wine with occasional wine tastings and Flamenco dance lessons on summer Saturday afternoons. The wine and ruffles have now been replaced by Boccato Gelato (they also do coffee but I can’t remember the coffee par of the name. Both the market and the gelato are just east of Wilson Blvd. and N. Edgewood, across from Whole Foods). The market owner told me that’d simply rented out the space to the new company and let them run down their own path. It’s a small place that’s full when there are six folks standing in line for service but it’s well worth the wait. They’ve got an excellent selection of gelato – which in my book, is way better than any ice cream ever made – and the price is respectable ($4.25 for two scoops). Fortunately, I had five bucks in my pocket because they don’t yet accept credit or debit cards. I went with one hit of pistachio and one hit of hazelnut; I’m nothing if not a nut-driven gelato guy. What they appeared to be missing were pans of fior di latte or riso, which are the classic Italian gelatos; if you can do those well, you’re golden. As I was paying my tab and heading out I noticed that the manager (or owner?) was wearing a Bottega Italiana t-shirt. Bottega Italiana is just around the corner from Pike Place market in Seattle and Sarah and I had some great gelato there a few years back; I’ve always remembered the quality there and I wonder if he’s spun off from Bottega or maybe the he’s the owner who’s decided to move east and expand. I’ll corner him next time and get the scoobies.

I learned this week that 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the music CD. From what I gather, 1979 was the “date” of invention but the first release in stores wasn’t until 1982 (it was an Abba’s last studio album, Visitors). What’s interesting about the CD – by the way, a good bit of this was exposed to me by the Sound Opinions podcast – was that the CD enabled the music industry to continue to thrive for two decades, at just the point where it was probably beginning to sag. I think they said that something like 3.5 billion CD have been sold and a good chunk of that number must be made up of people repurchasing albums they already owned. If you think about everyone turning their album collections into CDs, it’s pretty mind blowing. Of course, it also unwittingly marked the beginning of the end for the big labels; the technology opened the door for every thing we see today. Quite an anniversary, eh?

My friend Buzz was in town last week and came over to the wilds of NoVa Friday afternoon. The two of us took in the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum that afternoon – absolutely no crowds – he spent Friday night at the house, and we did some D.C. things early Saturday morning before he headed to BWI for his flight back to Dallas. The two funniest bits of the visit involved planes and pizza. First, the planes. For a couple of retired Air Force flyers, we know precious little about historical plane identification. Sure, we can point to a sleek, black jet and scream out “SR-71”; or look at a huge white vehicle and say “Space Shuttle”, like a couple of simpletons. Everything else? Good luck. As we’re walking around the place and spying any prop-driven WWI or WWII plane we’re just blowing out smoke saying things like “Is that a P-46?” – basically just adding any number to the letter “P” and trying to sound intelligent. I think every volunteer tour guide (usually someone around 60-years-old, British, and a plane watcher) just flinched as they listened to these two yobs babble on and on. Of course, it didn’t help that at every turn all Buzz could add to the conversation was a loud declaration, “Didn’t Pappy Boyington fly that?” What a couple of yucks.

Pizzagate didn’t arrive until about 8 pm as I’m pulling handmade pizzas out of the oven. I was admittedly running a little late and the natives were just bitchy: “I’m hungry”, “I’m dying”, “Hurry up.” The first thing I learn from X and Buzz, as they conversed like I wasn’t there in the kitchen, is that my only job is to cook the damn food and have it on the counter when they’re good-and-ready to eat. They don’t care if it’s cold because there’s a microwave right over there and they know how to work it – monkeys do have fingers. Apparently, I’m the only one interested in timing the meal so it arrives warm and luscious – they, are infidels. The second part of pizzagate was this: I made a full sheet beef, pepperoni, and black olive pizza; and a normal, square veg pizza for the Eleven. Here’s what I figured: Buzz is manly man from Texas, via North Carolina, and he wants meat on his pie. So, I make an extra large pie so he and the boys can eat away at the monstrosity. I dish up two big pieces for him to eat – which he sort of does – until he finally spits out that he’d rather have the veggie pie than eat the very subtle kid’s pizza. Well, whaddya know? Maybe you should say something instead of crying on the inside…think about that. Fortunately, there was some veggie left and he managed to eat a piece whilst still crying about this-and-that and already being full – like I need these two in my kitchen. Good for nothings…

I’ll let you go for know; consider yourselves updated.

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