This weekend, a few things happened that are worth relating. Yup. This is one of those posts that should be three posts, or four. Whatever. I think each vignette will be worth a read, and I want them off my plate. So please soldier on. Rather than recounting my Friday visit to Nates Taco Truck Stop (finally got to try the huevos racheros – ask for both green & red sauce), I’m going to start with my Saturday trip to Verizon Wireless. Yeah, I finally bought my wife’s birthday iPhone (no thanks AT&T) and decided to go along for the Apple smartphone ride as well.*
From here on out, I won’t be posting blurry Blackberry pictures here. Instead, it’ll blurry iPhone4 pics (until I figure out how to use the camera to its potential). But, why did I get an iPhone, really? I was against my wife getting one. I wanted to stay with Sprint for another 10 years and just switch to Droid phones. But, Karen is a Mac person, so she wouldn’t even consider any other option for her first smartphone. The sales guy actually forecasted for me that the iPhone4 will be “the last great iPhone,” because Apple has admitted they won’t be able to keep up with the innovations coming from their competitors. His honesty triggered my sentimentality (awwww the iPhone swan song), which pushed me over the edge to decide that my wife and I should bond over this new toy, instead of embarking on an endless debate over who’s phone is better. (psst… Droid. We’ll be together after this little 2-year fling.)
Fresca’s Sushi Sandwich
Speaking of my wife, she’s nuts about Fresca’s vegan “sushi sandwich.” Really, Karen just has impeccable taste (husbands, notwithstanding). You’d be silly not to read her blog and follow her on Twitter. She’s twice ordered the freshly baked pita pocket stuffed with thin sliced carrot and cukes, pickled ginger, avocados, and wasabi Veganaise. If that doesn’t sound delicious enough, it comes with soy sauce to dip in. And with that dunk, every element of the sandwich is put on blast with the splash of saltiness hitting your taste buds.
Above is our attempt to recreate it. The bread wasn’t fresh (Fresca actually bakes each pita pocket for each sandwich when you order it!). But, otherwise, it was a similarly inhaleable, light, mostly guilt-free sandwich. I gotta try some more Fresca sandwiches.
Although I firmly believe that a traditional breve macchiato from Lamplighter is the single most delicious espresso drink in Richmond, I’ve recently been passing the place by on my way to Fresca (gasp!) mostly because I thought I’d tried (and liked) their whole menu – food-wise. Then, one day, I was talking to Noelle about their successful wooing of Demolition Coffee in Petersburg, when a huge plate of food appeared in front of her. It looked like a half of a sheet-pan of lasagna, buried under cheese, the corners hanging over the edges, and a side salad fighting for a spot at the other end of her oval plate. What’s that? “Pizza bread.” Huh? She rattled off the ingredients like she was training a new cook, but also proud of another uniquely Lamplighter creation. “It’s on the specials board.” You have a specials board? She points. Oh. It’s too much to take in. I can’t believe I haven’t noticed it in the past year. “It hasn’t been up that long.” At some point, I let her get down to the business of eating dinner.
At a visit since, Noelle convinced me to order the mac’n'cheese by describing to me how they make it from scratch to order (melting the cheddar and gouda into a roux, tossing with pre-cooked noodles and baking it briefly) for maximum fresh-tasting-ness. My toddler approved and so did I. Not an easy middle ground to achieve. Also, according to Twitter, the Goat-herder sandwiches are amazing. But, I wouldn’t know. Other than the mac’n'cheese, I’ve got my work cut out for me in terms of Lamplighter specials. Definitely starting with the Cometbus (“best writer of our generation,” as Zach put it).
Composting (re)Starts Now
I just got finished telling my community blog about the composting opportunity that leaf collection day presents. With the nice weather we’ve been having, I figured it was time for yard work. And, always on my list is my typically neglected compost tumbler/bin. When did I spin it last? Has it thawed yet? Please tell me the stagnation hasn’t created a stinking slurry of sludge. Pretty sure I saw it dripping menacing crude from November through January. Let’s take a look inside. Ew! I’m getting aromas more complex than an aged barley-wine, but similarly sweet, acrid, a little like decomposing flesh. My toddler, for the first time in his life, is holding his nose. “That smells bad, daddy.” Only one way to put out that fire: dry organic matter.
We spent a few minutes raking leaves. I jammed some down in the compost tumbler and gave it a spin. With the shameful stench mostly extinguished, I enlisted Jasper to help fill it the rest of the way. He gets so excited about helping me in the yard. Before you know it, we’ve both got a fair amount of compost skid-marks on our arms and sleeves. But, it was worthwhile. Now, the question is, where will I find leaves during the rest of the year to balance out the wet kitchen scraps I’ll be chucking into the compost?
Surprise: A Party
In the garden, Jasper lets me know that we haven’t yet accomplished our mission (his mission): to find worms. I give him a toy trowel, and he goes to work scraping at the dirt in my dormant raised beds. Suddenly, all is silent. The usual toddler talk is gone (he’s maddeningly incessant, actually – and only Karen and I are allowed to say that, cuz he’s ours and we love him). Now, I can actually hear the birds chirping. They’ve gathered all around the eaves of my tiny yard, complaining that my presence is ruining their catered meal at the freshly refilled bird-feeder.
Slowly, the birds start braving it with me standing right there. I held my ground. Snapped some phone pics. And enjoyed the serenity of my son’s OCD-fueled Zen gardening (he’s still on his butt, moving dirt, and not finding any worms). Also in this picture is my back porch, enshrouded in bare wisteria vines, but still the home to my fair-weather temple: a cast iron hibachi. This awesome mini-hearth will see action again soon. On Sunday the 27th, we’re having a party to celebrate the death of my graduate studies – to drive a stake into it’s bloodsucking heart! It took me five years, but I finally earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from VCU. Long live my estrangement from higher education. I hope it’s at least another 10 years without juggling full-time employment and school. Job offers are welcome.
Update: forgot to mention that I witnessed a breakfast-time rush on Jaks Bagels in Carytown. This was just a day or so after co-owner, Jackie, commented on this blog that they’d tweaked their bagels-making process, and the bagels are lighter now (they are). Go try for yourself. By the way, my son loves “orange stuff” (aka, lox).
*The first Verizon store I stopped at on Broad was out of iPhones. When I got back in my car, it wouldn’t start. I called my wife. Told her not to come get me. I wasn’t coming home without her birthday iPhone, three months belated. I walked down Broad to the next Verizon store. Luckily, it was just a city block or two (and overrun with customers). When I got back to the car, and after we’d ransacked Marshalls for iPhone4 cases, my wife gave my car a jump. Well, she turned the key. It was ME, of course, who reversed the polarities on the jumper cables. Smoke started going up as the rubber handles on the clamps began to melt. Whups. Red to red. Black to ground. Got that backwards. It worked on the second try. No families blow’d up.