product review, resto oh oh, Uncategorized

“A Collage of Unaccounted-For Brush Strokes”

~

Stockard Channing’s next-to-last lines from Six Degrees of Separation were yesterday feeling distressingly and urgently sympathetic to me, as i hauled my charcoal-dusted and BBQ-soaked carcass out of a tent after 4 hours of sleep in order to catch a plane to Reno so i could interview some scientists, from there to hop on a bus to San Francisco so i could eat a million burritos and drink a million microbrews. less directly concerned with (although no doubt overshadowed by) such existential cramps, my other thoughts for the day as i saw fit to record them were as follow:

1. this Gavino and Weinfeld airport croissant tastes like it was made with movie theatre butter, but unfortunately i can’t say that makes it the worst i’ve ever had. not by a long shot.

2. CLEVELAND:
these are the things i know about Cleveland:
Bone Thugs N Harmony.
Drew Carey?
and
in the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after Sunnydale has sunk into an abyss and they’re like, “we’ve closed the Hellmouth now, at least it’s over, right?” Giles is like “well, there’s another on in Cleveland, actually.”

remember when they were talking about doing a spinoff of Buffy where Giles is back in England solving paranormal mysteries aided by the ghost of Miss Calendar, his murdered cyber-pagan-gypsy computer teacher/lover? no? i would have watched that.

3. Cleveland airport seems pretty nice, but 19$ crab cake nice? i think not, but that may just be the hangover thinking.

* * *

today, after a full night’s sleep, things seem a little brighter, a little lighter, and how could they not, in the refreshingly dry heat of this desert sun? it is astonishing, really, what humidity – specifically that of Montréal – does to a person. the sun is already on the way down now, and even at 33° i can walk the streets dressed as a respectable person (shoes, socks, long pants, dress shirt) and not look like a wet rag in a matter of minutes.

breakfast consisted of a trip to the 5th St. Bakehouse, which, nestled in a strip mall between a pawn shop and a Floors ‘R’ Us might not have caught my eye had i not already read somewhere that it was worth checking out. greeted by strains of “People Are People,” i was immediately inclined to be charitable. i ordered the “5th St. Benedict”: 2 pieces of whole wheat toast, ham, 2 eggs over easy, and chorizo gravy, which amounts to some serious liberties taken with eggs benedict, but i am only very selectively and arbitrarily a purist, as you may have noticed. what came out is best described as a roughly 6-inch square slab of something smothered in a pale orange sauce, its already uneven surface complicated by what looked like lumps of ground chuck. it didn’t look -bad- so much as daunting, and it turned out to be just that – no shameful deception, just a heavy, rich, spicy, onslaught of a breakfast. truly awesome, however uninterested i profess to be in heavy breakfasts.

(Age of Consent.)

the gravy is more like a creamy, spicy béchamel than what i was fearing it might be (euhhh…rehydrated brown sauce?), and the chorizo is spicy and robust. the toast is very palpably from the bakery itself, and the eggs as good as any I have ever had at a diner, fried to perfection somehow (the skin on the yoke sturdy, the yoke itself totally runny), which is all the more impressive under such a shroud of gravy. the server congratulates me for not getting it all over my face, which i had secretly been congratulating myself for already. there is a rough jocularity here among all people in the service sector whom i’ve encountered thus far. the familiar and foul-mouthed hotel shuttle driver, the convenience store clerk, the girl at the Radio Shack, who in calling me “hon” made me realize that it sounds somehow stranger coming from a person ten years one’s junior than from a brassy old dame at a run-down diner, where i believe a good 95% of all of the utterances of the word have taken place.

(more Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.” I have already noticed that the diegetic sound of Reno is not modern pop, or country, as i might have anticipated – throughout my hotel plays 60s pop, a kitschy affectation they can’t realize how much i appreciate. if only there was a single consistently listenable radio station in Montréal. it boggles the mind.)

my espresso has the thin, slightly burnt, slightly rubbery quality that i have come to expect from cafés that are not either pretentious or Italian, but everything else  – “We brew local, organically grown coffee,” a decent California Wine selection and a couple of microbrews, suggests that their drip coffee would probably be pretty good, their croissants pretty bad,*  and their clientèle loyal and in their own right, quite discerning.

(Six Different Ways“? awesome. because i just wouldn’t figure, what with the watercolours of landscapes and desert shrubbery and cats. which reminds me, sometime in early september there’s a show at casa where my friend’s band is covering The Head On The Door in its entirety. do it.)

* * *

now i find myself, fresh from my first run of interviews, enjoying the above (pictured) late afternoon snack in what outfit i in retrospect am inclined to title “Jonah Campbell, Research Gino” (i at least had my shirt properly buttoned, but the tortoise-shell Ray-Bans push it a little). i have descended upon Reno for the onset of the “Hot August Nights,” which is some manner of classic car show, because apparently being Las Vegas Lite is not enough of a draw in its own right. this means lots of good-looking cars, tough-looking people, dopey-looking people looking at tough-looking people’s good-looking cars, and lots of street food, hence the cheddar/cream cheese/jalapeno grilled cheese that i unfortunately already paid 6 bucks for before i realized that they also had peanut butter/banana/bacon option on offer.

New Belgium’s Somersault Ale is refreshing, light, but with a nice hops presence, and a subtle apricot taste on the tail end that is so unobtrusive that it allows one to think of apricot as a native beer taste, as opposed to some fruity intrusion. i’m beginning to suspect that it may be the Centennial hops that are responsible for those citrusy notes that i look for and so rarely find in a good IPA these days. i’m going write this on my arm so i remember to make a point of exploring this question (Centennial v. Cascade, specifically) when i hit up Toronado in SF.

preliminary research on the American Big Cup suggests to me that it is perhaps thicker than the Canadian? am i imagining this? there certainly seems to be something chalkier or pastier, and i think sweeter, about the PB, that makes it less satisfying than what i’ve previously encountered. i suppose i should just remember to bring the packaging home to compare with our domestic Big Cup.

so what does tonight hold, besides Pale Fire, tomorrow’s interview prep, and being impressed by the mountainous surround (19th floor standard suite, wassap)? i’m thinking either the oyster bar at the casino across the way, because oysters in the desert, right? or this pizza place called PIE FACE, because you just don’t not go to a pizza place called PIE FACE. hell, maybe both. i’m on vacation, after all.**

note: mere moments after taking this picture i sprayed beer all over my shirt while trying (successfully, i might add) to use the deadbolt of my room’s door as a beer opener.

* I note after a little research that their owner, Dan Carter, came from the Napa CIA (Culinary Institute of America), so i guess i shouldn’t judge his croissants based on the decor, but neither am i convinced by whatever credentials. proof is in the pate, or whatever.

** this is technically incorrect. since i am being paid to do research/write my thesis, this trip is probably the closest thing to being “at work” that i’ve been all summer. pizza it is.

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One thought on ““A Collage of Unaccounted-For Brush Strokes”

  1. blue eyes says:

    Cascade hops are sort of flowery, while Centennial are a little more bitter and skunky, i seem to recall. At least this is the lasting impression i have from smelling them and throwing them at random into massive boiling pots of malted barley…

    i could be wrong, but i think Centennial can be used both for finishing and bittering, whereas Cascade is more just a finishing hop. i usually use a lot of Cascade to finish my IPA’s, so you might remember what that tastes like…

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