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Eleven

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

November 11, 2011. Nigel Tufnel day (11/11/11)

My e-pal Leslie posted the image above on Facebook and I couldn’t resist passing it on. (To give proper credit, she in turn borrowed it from Xavier Riley, who provides the wording I’ve used for the caption, and whom I don’t know at all.)

I know, for those of you not familiar with the heavy metal band Spinal Tap or the documentary about them, this will be completely mysterious. You might have been thinking, as I have, that this year’s commemoration of the end of World War I, at 11:11 on 11/11/11, will have special resonance, at least for numerologists. And so it will. But Nigel Tufnel has staked his own claim on 11.

By way of background, Tufnel was Spinal Tap’s lead guitarist. As for the way that 11 has attached itself to him, well, you should see the movie. I don’t want to spoil the moment. Also check out the Nigel Tufnel Day webpage, with the heading, “The Nigel Tufnel Day Appreciation Society and Quilting Bee in Favor of Declaring & Observing November 11, 2011 as Nigel Tufnel Day (in Recognition of Its Maximum Elevenness).”

Oh, never mind, just see the excerpt below. But please do see This Is Spinal Tap in its entirety some time. You’ll be glad you did.

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Categories: Holidays, Music

Wedgwood Broiler

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I wasn’t sure I would be up to going out for New Year’s Eve dinner tonight. When my initial cold symptoms set in Tuesday night, I wasn’t too concerned. We went ahead Wednesday with our Bainbridge Island outing. But by the time I headed off to my office yesterday, I was starting to drag, and last night I had a low fever.

Today was more of the same — congestion, lots of coughing, a slight fever. But I had to eat, and I didn’t want Gail to be stuck in all evening. So I got dressed and around 7:30 we headed off to dinner.

Where to go? We weren’t really sure. The last three years, we had early New Year’s Eve dinners at The Attic Alehouse & Eatery, our local pub and long-time Madison Park institution. But we’ve been boycotting The Attic since last spring, for reasons I needn’t go into here. For the four years before that, we had New Year’s Eve dinner at our one-time local steakhouse, the Wedgwood Broiler. We moved away from Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood 17 years ago, but I still like to head up there occasionally. We never went to the Broiler on New Year’s Eve in the years we lived up that way. However, we found our way to it nine years ago on our way north to a New Year’s Eve party in Lake Forest Park, a suburb north of Seattle, with Wedgwood being about the halfway point between our house and the party. Thus began the tradition.

It seems I’m the only fan of the Broiler. Joel never understood why we would go. Gail regularly points out that there are better steakhouses around — and closer too — including one just a bit south of us on Lake Washington, next door to the Thai restaurant Sabai that I wrote about last week. But, it’s a tradition of sorts, and it brings back memories. I always think of Gail’s dad when we eat there. It’s his kind of place, and he would surely have joined us tonight if he were available.

Off to Wedgwood we went, and into the Broiler. We got there around 7:40, a little past its peak, another benefit of going. It was quiet, which is what I needed tonight, and it’s the one place we frequent where I’m likely to be among the youngest diners, which adds to the fun. The bar, I gather, is a pretty lively place. That’s where the young people go. The restaurant, not so much.

I have to admit, their steak isn’t the greatest. That must be what Gail and Joel have been trying to tell me. Still, you can’t beat the atmosphere.

After we ate, as always, we headed a few more blocks north to see our old neighborhood. And then we took a leisurely route home, past more neighborhoods that we drove through daily years ago.

I think next year we’ll try someplace new.

Categories: Holidays, Restaurants

Potato Latkes

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

My favorite food! Top five anyway. And last night we had some. Gail figured out years ago how to make near perfect potato latkes. Not the flour-filled blobs most restaurants serve, but crisp ones. And I was the fortunate beneficiary most Chanukahs — maybe two out of three or at least one out of two.

But it’s been awhile. Our last happy latkes dinner was five years ago. Chanukah came late that year, starting after Christmas. We celebrated Chanukah and the new year jointly with a New Year’s Day latkes dinner, we being Gail, me, Joel, and Joel’s friend Dmitry. Joel was home following his first semester at college; Dmitry was back from a fall in South America.

This year, like that year, we waited until the seventh night of Chanukah for our feast. Accompanying the latkes was apple sauce made by our brother-in-law Jim. Latkes. Apple sauce. What else do you need? A perfect dinner. The miracle of oil.

Categories: Family, Food, Holidays

Halloween Miscalculation

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

We seem to be a popular house on Halloween. Gail buys full-sized candy bars to hand out, and judging by the response of the trick-or-treaters, this makes us special. We were handing out a hundred or more a few years ago. But more recently, two and three years ago, we began to have leftovers.* So this year Gail bought less. We had about 70 available. Two little girls came around 5:40, then no one for a while, and then between 6:00 and 6:40 the candy mostly disappeared.

I took a moment at that point to count what was left — 13 bars. The doorbell rang again, I opened it, two swarms appeared in quick succession, and the 13 were gone.

We’ll buy more next year.

*Last year, we were away. Halloween is the day that we left Grenoble first thing in the morning, took three trains, and arrived in Venice around 7:30 at night. It was fun to take the vaporetto from Ferrovia (the train station) to our hotel, watching Halloween celebrants get on and off at each stop.

Categories: Holidays

Thanksgiving Again

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Lefse

[From http://tinyurl.com/ybhlppo%5D

An oddity I’ve discovered as this blog works its way through a second year is that when certain cyclical events come up again, whatever I have to say isn’t as interesting as what I said the first time around. This year’s Thanksgiving, for example, was routine compared to last year’s. A year ago, as I explained in a post, Gail was working part-time as a chef in a residential treatment center for addicted women who had young children or were pregnant, and her part-time duties included Thursdays. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday. That meant she was working on Thanksgiving. I joined her for several hours as she finished cooking and served the food to the residents. See last year’s post for more. After a long day of work, she wasn’t about to cook at home, so we had Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant with Jessica and Joel plus Gail’s sister and her husband.

After last year’s less-than-memorable dinner, we were eager to return to tradition this year and eat a home-cooked meal. Which we did. Joel, of course, is in Grenoble, which meant that there would be one hole in our tradition. He had spent his first 22 Thanksgivings with us. He would not be spending his 23rd with us. (Joel, in turn, along with the other US students in his program, had his own Thanksgiving dinner, with each student preparing a dish. We haven’t heard how it worked out. Today they went off by bus to Strasbourg, where they will spend two nights. Then on Sunday they will stop in Colmar on the way south for a short visit. I’ve already urged him to see the Isenheim Altarpiece while in Colmar, if he has time, but time will be short and there will be other things to do. And I’m hoping he gets to see his cousin — my sister’s daughter — while in Strasbourg, which has been her home for over five years.)

Joel aside, the rest of our Thanksgiving partners of a year ago came over to the house, as did our friends and frequent Thanksgiving partners the Williams and new guest Nancy. Gail made turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, and green beans with mushrooms. All wonderful. And a cranberry relish. The Williams brought additional dressing, more cranberry relish, and probably other items I’ve forgotten. Tamara and Jim brought a cold vegetable platter, pickles, and again probably something else I’ve forgotten. For dessert, everyone contributed a pie, resulting in a choice of pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, and blackberry pies. Oh, and Gail made cinnamon ice cream, a perfect complement. For those who aren’t big pie eaters, it was perfect on its own. No need to serve as complement. (That’s a compliment.) There was, of course, more food than we could possibly eat, and it was a heck of a lot better than last year’s meal.

We don’t seem to have a Friday tradition. We don’t shop. I did look at the Apple website to see what they had going on in their annual one-day sale, but I didn’t buy anything. (A year ago on this day, we bought our three iPhones. I’m ready to upgrade, but I’ll wait until I don’t have to pay the $200 upgrade fee that would be due now because not enough time has passed in our contract with AT&T.) The one special event of the day was the broadcast of my favorite TV show, Monk. It is as good as ever in this, its seventh and final season. Tonight, the first episode of the two-parter that will bring the series to an end aired. Sometimes, the show’s depiction of Monk’s compulsive behavior is intentionally over the top, played for humor, but other times, it is so perfectly rendered that I can almost think I’m watching myself in a mirror.

Tomorrow we’ll make the drive 60 miles south to Lacey, to Gail’s cousin Mark’s home, to participate in the annual extended family celebration of their Norwegian background. I wrote about this, too, a year ago, in passing, in a post about making conversation. It’s a mystery to me why we hold this event two days after Thanksgiving. We’ve already eaten enough and seen enough family, but then we do it again. The day centers on the making of heavy boiled potato balls, some with ham and some without — kumla — and the preparation of flour pancakes — lefse — that late in the celebration Mark gets around to adding margarine and sugar to and rolling and slicing for our dessert. Mark is the oldest of the grandchildren of Gail’s paternal grandparents, a position that makes him, effectively, the patriarch of the family and the keeper of its traditions. I wonder how serious a celebration of Norwegian culture this is. If my old friend Sverre from Trondheim were in town during one of these events and we dragged him to it, I suspect he would be mystified. The best parallel I can imagine is if the extended family on my side mostly still lived in greater New York and got together every year to wear aprons that say “Oy!” (rather than “Uff Da!”), fry potato pancakes, and eat rugelach. Not that that would be a bad thing. Maybe my grandmother could make a surprise appearance from the grave to prepare her chopped liver. I’ll be there. Just say the word.

Categories: Family, Food, Holidays, Television