Tuesday, February 01, 2005

As promised, the photo of my only finished knitting project of 2005:

A Peruvian-style hat, made with Peruvian Collection pure alpaca, from a pattern in Sue Bradley's 1991 book, Around the World in 80 Sweaters. Posted by Hello

That's it for the fiber content for this blog today. Tomorrow I will bring you musings on spinning and Gandhi. But for today, I have ...


If you haven't yet seen Sideways, by all means, go. Immediately. It certainly deserves its Oscar nomination, and I'm thrilled that for the first time in, oh, about 15 years, I've actually seen one of the Oscar-nominated movies before the big ceremony. Usually, my grown-up movie backlog allows me to happily mine the $1-for-7-days section at the neighborhood rental store. Actually, to be quite honest, I have enough titles on my "must see" list that cable TV is a "good deal" because so many of those films have a decent chance of being shown on TCM!

Anyway, an impromptu girls-night-out thing Sunday took me and two pals to the local cineplex. We eliminated the slasher and action movies, as well as the movies our kids might want to see, and finally those with inconvenient start or finish times. We were left with Sideways and Phantom of the Opera. One of my pals had read a lukewarm review of Phantom, so Sideways it was. We did not regret our choice. Not only is this movie very, very funny, it's beautifully filmed and it has something to say. I won't divulge more. The only possibly negative aspect, at least for me, was going back into the dreary northern Michigan winter after spending two hours enjoying the California wine country scenery. We all wanted to go to dinner in Solvang afterwards.

and restaurants

Unfortunately, we were left with the neighborhood pretentious-but-poorly-prepared-food place. While I appreciate the owners' intent of trying something hip and urban in Traverse City, I think it would work out better if they hired kitchen staff who actually know how to prepare ponzu sauce. Or at least lowered the prices to compensate.

I generally eat out for two reasons. The most prevalent is to avoid cooking and cleaning. When that is the motivation, almost any restaurant will suffice as long as the bill is reasonably representative of the quality. The other motivation is to taste something I could not have prepared at home. If I'm spending more than $30 for dinner for two, the second motivation is in play and I'm not easily satisfied. I would rather spend $100 for an exceptional meal than $40 for a mediocre meal.

Fortunately, we have a few very, very good $40 places in the area. We also have some exceptional restaurants. My favorite is Tapawingo, which is one of the best restaurants I've been to anywhere in the world. It's about an hour's drive and quite expensive (at least $150 for dinner for two with wine and tip), so consequently we only eat there for very special occasions (such as 5-year anniversary increments), but I would be happy to blow our entire dining budget there and make do with beans and rice at home every other night.

On the other end of my fantasy restaurant scale is Kathmandu, a small Nepalese-East Indian eatery in Nederland, Colo. During the year we spent in the Boulder area, I was a frequent diner at Kathmandu and I sorely wished I could have packed the place in my bags and taken it back to Traverse City. Besides having the best saag I have ever tasted, it was friendly and affordable. My daughter was in half-day kindergarten then, and about once a week, we would stop in for lunch after school. They never charged Leah, who only ate rice and a bit of fruit from the lunch buffet. Generally, I hate buffets; when I pay to eat out, I prefer to stay at the table and have someone bring food directly from the kitchen. Yet I could find no quibble with Kathmandu's $6.95 lunch buffet. I would always eat almost an entire plate of saag, a little rice, some of the yummy rice salad, a bit of the curry dish, and some of the other vegetable special. Naan hot from the oven was delivered to my table. It was perfect. I miss it dearly.

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