foto faves

foto faves

Saturday, January 16, 2016

spite an die-vill LOL

Last night we returned to our music venue of choice for the winter season- Fogartyville - a community peace center (yes, you can tell who runs this place- old hippies) that doubles as an art gallery and music venue along with hosting contra dances and lectures and various other activities that one might use a community center to host.  We have seen a number of concerts here - Roy Book Binder was the first and then a terrific Irish band called Full Set for St Patrick's Day last year, and - well - most recently the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.  Prior posts have covered the concerts.

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2015/02/phils-new-home.html

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2015/03/friends-visit.html

http://blog.semifreelife.com/2015/11/i-promise.html

Last night we saw a group named after a lost water feature between Manhattan and the Bronx... and its name is spelled out for pronunciation in the post title but it is actually spelled in an old dutch way Spuyten Duyvil...

Spuyten Duyvil /ˈspaɪtən ˈdaɪvəl/ is an upper middle class neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City. It is bounded on the north by Riverdale, on the east by Kingsbridge, on the south by the Harlem River, and on the west by the Hudson River, although some consider it to be the southernmost part of Riverdale.

from the NY Public Library site:  Dating back to the 17th century, the name Spuyten Duyvil originates from the Dutch settlers who gave the name to the creek that flowed around what is today the Marble Hill neighborhood.  The creek has since been filled in, but the name stuck, with several theories about its origin.  Washington Irving refers to the origin of the name in his book, Knickerbocker History.  According to him, a Dutch trumpeter vowed to swim the turbulent waters of (then) Spuyten Duyvil Creek where it met the Hudson during the British attack on New Amsterdam in the 1660s "en spijt den Duyvil," or in "spite of the devil."  John McNamara also refers to this story in his book McNamara's Old Bronx. "Popular legend has it that a messenger was dispatched from Fort Amsterdam to the Bronx mainland for reinforcements, but high tides and treacherous current swept him away and he lost his life.  It was the Spite of the Devil that prevented the messenger from completing his mission."  More likely, however, according to McNamara, "is a 1647 reference to a gushing fountain of fresh water that poured into the creek.  The Hollanders called it the Devil's Spout "Spuit den Duyvil'...Later the name was anglicized to Spitting Devil and, sometimes, Spouting Devil."


But back to our evening- we started out at the nearby Blue Rooster for an early pre concert dinner. This place is known for down home southern style cooking- fried chicken, catfish, greens, meatloaf etc... We had a very good meal there which included many of the items listed above- (all photos below from their website)







Well sated, we headed down the alley to Fogartyville. Here is some background from the group's website -

Seeing a Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced "SPITE-en DIE+vul") show for the first time is like "throwing a cherry bomb into a lake" (Rich Warren, WFMT). It wakes you up. Their brand of original and traditional American Roots music blends Olde Time, Blues, 2nd Line, Bluegrass, and Folk Rock with a pinch of Punk Rock energy to create a uniquely modern mix. Lead by song-writing couple, Mark Miller and Beth Kaufman, this six piece powerhouse brings barn burning energy to venues throughout the East Coast and Midwest.

It’s an exciting time for the Hudson Valley based band. They have just released their third full length CD, "The Social Music Hour Vol 1". A love letter to the Anthology of American Folk Music, the project features lyrically relevant, known but not worn out, open for suggestion songs that thrives with re-interpretation. Familiar, forgotten words find new meaning in this historically informed but thoroughly contemporary treatment. Old wood, plaster, real spaces, vintage guitars and hot tubes are captured in warm, analog tones by studio designer and engineer Jim Keller (Willie Nelson, Nellie McKay). Recorded by the full band (no click, no net), the tracks burst with life, joy and vitality.  "Those masters of high-octane Americana, Spuyten Duyvil, have achieved a breakthrough on their new CD, "The Social Music Hour Vol, 1." - John Platt, WFUV

My review of the show was - "loved some songs - tepid on others."  They certainly were high energy and there were two numbers I really LOVED both written by Beth Kaufman- one called "Bitter" and the other called "Trouble On" both worth downloading! She has a terrific voice for low down blues and that is genre of these two songs, but I found her a bit too "country" on many of the other numbers- with the tiniest bit of twang and with that trademark country catch in the voice especially when in the higher ranges.  Overall a very nice evening and since we love this venue - well worth the time and effort to see them..  Every one of the musicians was wonderfully talented on his chosen instrument. You can find more details about the band on their website .

http://www.spuytenduyvilmusic.com/

here are a few photos from their website first - then my less than stellar photos from the concert-



a few photos of the venue and the band-



the current art exhibit is on Attica Prison-


the place still has Christmas style lights up- LOL - maybe they will keep them all year- it is a wire "tree" and won't need to be discarded-


the merch table (a briefcase full of CDs)


the band's instruments (on break)


the band in action-


and a short clip on video-


so as I said - a couple of songs I loved and will look for to download and a fun evening out with friends John & Barb. (BTW - Phil and John & Barb had all seen/heard this group at Folkstage before last night's concert)

Here are some of the upcoming acts- we have tickets for Runa, Mark Erelli, Aztec Two Step, and the terrific Doug MacLeod (who we saw/heard last summer at SPACE)



and here is the essence of the place from the community activist side of things- a postcard on each table-


Tonight we catch up with our old landlords and now buds Al & Carol and then it is back to Cuba (I PROMISE!!!!)

Friday, January 15, 2016

while we were there...

they were coming here...

In a strange coincidence - last night we tried a new-to-us place in a strip mall between Sarasota and Bradenton. Located in a completely unassuming location, at the corner of US 41 and State Route 70, is maybe one of the best and most authentic Italian restaurants we have been to in the U.S.

Let me backtrack a little to the title of the post... In October of 2014 - just a little over a year ago we spend a lovely two weeks in northern Italy- recounted in detail in prior posts, so I am only focusing here on FOOD. Everyone knows - or at least everyone who loves the treasured white truffles- that the fall is truffle season. Tartufo Bianco! Although we did not go with friends, many of our wino/foodie friends found ways to get themselves to Italy around the same time, including Neil, and Sheila & Mary, among others from the Chaine des Rotisseurs. It is just "that time of year"...LOL

So off we went- and we had some amazing meals - in restaurants high end and in less upscale family owned - all offering us the best of Italian cuisine!  Here are a few photos- from Bologna and Venice and Trieste- October 2014 - remember that date!

here is an example of a local mom and pop place from Bologna (located a few blocks from the Main Square where the Mortadella Festival was being held!)


their tagliatelle with tartufo bianco- aaaaaaccccckkk!! I am dying posting this and remembering how OMG good this was! It was so simple but so exquisite in flavor!


Stuffed zucchini flowers - we had those a number of times as well!


the traditional tagliatelle with bolognese sauce - from a side street restaurant called Da Nello in Bologna- yum yum yum


maybe you are getting the idea that we LOVE Italian food--- LOL - just maybe...


Above and below - dishes from Trieste pepenero pepebianco.



a tartufo bianco pasta dish from Da Fiore in Venice- fancy china gives it away- but seriously the mom and pop places were just as terrific! That's the way it is in Italy


This is a very long intro to the fact that last night's restaurant owners were heading here from the same location, just as we were enjoying the food of their homeland.  Monica - the chef - hails from near Bologna and Luca, her husband, wine guy and front of the house - is from Livorno.  Livorno, where way back when on, our first trip to Italy together (June 1999- I think) Phil and I had a terrific meal in a tiny place along the coast when we were going south from Pisa... just one of those places where you say "that looks like a good place to stop". The owner there picked out all our food for us - no menu to be found.  It was a terrific fish/seafood based meal! And I can't believe I am typing these words at 12:45 before eating!!! LOL

Anyway on to last night at Tiramisu and Luca & Monica, they came over in October 2014 and opened a small strip mall restaurant at US 41 and SR 70 the following month- speaking almost no English but having a lot of talent for food! Almost right away, they had a very positive newspaper review that Phil read and noted and then - being past the mid point of life - we promptly forgot about. Until we saw a blog post about the place a week ago from the Sarasota Foodies blog. Thanks for the reminder!

We called yesterday and asked if they had room for us last night and could we bring wine from our cellar (this is usually not a problem around these parts and corkage fees range from $10-25 if you have an extensive cellar it is really nice to be able to have one of your vintage wines with some of the great cooking that goes on outside your own kitchen!)  The answers were yes and yes (with a corkage fee.) So off we went.

Donna - our friendly and very helpful server could not have been nicer.  She gave us the story of Monica and Luca's start up of Tiramisu (the name of their cozy eatery.) I know you are all waiting for the food - so I am going to go right to the photos-



Tuscan yellow walls reminded us right away of being in Italy...




we started with a super antipasti plate for two and enjoyed it very much- our favorite was the bruschetta which was worth coming for on its own.


I had to have tagliatelle - my favorite - dating back to before I met Phil - I even remember the place I had it in Florence.  It was called Mama Gina.  There I was introduced to tartufo bianco.  It was in the early 90s yet I still have a distinct memory of the meal.  Mama Gina's is on the street that runs along the Arno in Oltrarno - Borgo San Jacopo - near the Ponte Vecchio.  We met two American guys at the next table (it's a touristy area) and got into conversation with them about what they had to eat that they could recommend.  Well, the rest was history. But I ramble - I am in a reminiscent mood today I guess, LOL.  Anyway, back to Monica's really superb tagliatelle with bolognese sauce...a tad "redder" than I am used to in Italy and also meatier (likely to meet American expectations) but superb pasta!


Phil ordered the lasagne bolognese and it was also excellent.


the tiramisu was first rate and Phil ordered the special dessert a cake with pear and hazelnut paste.



my tiramisu choice was the clear winner.

We do want to mention - despite the fact that we brought an older burgundy (1996) - they have some terrific wines available!  Luca has curated a list of very nice 100% Italian selections which cover many wine areas of Italy.  The pricing is reasonable as well.  We asked if they got truffles in season and Luca explained that they were priced such that they would not be able to, due to the need to sell at a per dish price point far above what their local clientele would be looking for.

The place is first rate and deserves to be super successful.  They are nice people and their food is excellent.  And here is the good news- when the tartufo bianco comes in next fall - they have a carry out menu - so it can BYO truffles to your own house and carry in Monica's terrific tagliatelle.

Luca also has carry out discounts on his wine.  So you can have your carry in with a nice bottle of Italian even if your "cellar" has no Italian. (That reminds me of what a great vintage the 1997 was for Chianti Classico Riservas, how we drank them all, how I was always begging Neil to sell me some of his since he bought more than we did... So see, I AM in a mood today to remember great food, great wines, great trips.)

AND it was Tiramisu that put me in the mood of reliving Italy! It is so authentically Italian.  We WIN having them less than fifteen minutes away!





Now all I have to do is finagle Monica into putting Paglia e Fieno on the menu and I will be able to save thousands on airfare and hotels LOL---- and yes, I know I know I owe you more on the Cuba trip. I have not forgotten.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

a winner! actually two winners!

Yesterday Phil started his winter term class and today I went off to school for my class on the Cold War...



I am so not going to recite all I learned today but I will say that the class seems to be very interesting and we have a lot to cover in just eight classes of 80 minutes length.


And after class I picked up Phil and we headed out to lunch.  We tried a new place today and we had a winner! The Central Cafe in the Old Manatee section of town in a brick building that has a small backyard under a pergola- so when the weather is warmer than it was today you can sit outdoors-

cute place- eclectically decorated-






nice service and amenable chefs (food prepared the way you want it) - we had two soups - tomato blue and cream of mushroom - nice and hot on a chilly day...it is winter here after all- then we each had the bacon and blue burgers which were cooked to the temperature of choice... served with excellent fries and  good pickles and red ripe tomatoes...

I didn't take pictures so I pulled these from the yelp website - credit where due- Yelpers helped me!

burger and in the house made square bun- but our tomatoes were riper!


tomato blue soup- very nice and served hot!


a place to return to for sure!

On Friday we have another new place to try before the Spuyten Duyvil concert at Fogartyville. So I will keep you posted.  And yes I know I promised to get us to Cienfuegos - but it will be tomorrow because I am done for the day - my cat is nudging me to give her some attention!