Last Thursday Katie and I attended a performance of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for the first time since my return to the US. We used to be full season subscribers to this truly world class orchestra and it was exciting to be back. That night was a great performance for which to return as it was the world premiere of The Planets–An HD Oddyssey. Something I’ve always enjoyed about the HSO is its willingness to branch out and explore the integration of other art forms with the music it plays. In this case it meant stunning NASA video to complement each planet in Holst’s famous score.
The program opened with renditions (sans film) of Stravinsky’s Scherzo Fantastique and Dutilleux’s Timbres, Space, Movement (The Starry Night), both fitting for an evening with a fantastic, heavenly, mythical theme. The evening was also the first time I’ve taken advantage of my office’s location in the heart of the Theater District–and it won’t be the last!
Saturday was Katie’s birthday so we had several of her friends over for dinner to celebrate. I was in an Association of Rice Alumni board meeting all day so unfortunately some of the prep work fell to the birthday girl. However, I rushed home as quickly as I could and we got to cooking.
The first course, as guests arrived, was toasted baguette with olive oil, dark chocolate, and fleur de sel, paired with a sparkling white wine from Gruet. This course seemed to last forever as we all congregated in the kitchen while Katie and I put the finishing touches on the rest of the meal.
We migrated to the dining room for round 2: carrot-habanero-ginger soup paired with our old white wine favorite, Sella & Mosca La Cala vermentino, to cleanse and cool the palette.
This led to our “earthy” course: portabella mushroom caps stuffed with Minnesota wild rice and accompanied by lightly steamed broccolini. We paired this with Valdicava’s Rosso di Montalcino as Katie, Cox, and I had all tasted it from the barrel during our vineyard visits.
Not that we needed anymore food by this point but we served three vegetarian cheeses anyway and attempted to continue pairing them with the Valdicava. However, too much wine may have impaired our judgement as we soon found several other bottles of exotic reds on the table. No one complained, though!
Finally we had dark chocolate birthday cake and Banyuls Rimage (kind of like Port, but French) from Les Clos de Paulilles. Miraculously this wasn’t all succeeded by tequila shots and running around the neighborhood naked or anything–we really must be getting old!
Sunday the birthday continued as we took a cooking class at our favorite local Indian place, Indika. It was a small, intimate class–just a few couples–taught by the chef/owner back in the kitchen of the restaurant. It was our first time working with commercial cooking tools and very fun to experience a taste (no pun intended) of the chaotic restaurant kitchen environment. The result was a delicious dinner. This is to be expected from Indika when the real chefs are cooking so we were all pleased to have stepped up enough ourselves.
Tonight Katie and I watched Food, Inc., which galvanized our resolve to eat fresh, organic, locally grown foods. It’s just amazing how much crap–and how little nutrition–is in most foods we are marketed and sold. The system drives us to buy the cheapest food–but it is so much more expensive when you consider the resulting healthcare, social, and environmental costs. We have to change the system to capture the true costs of food–in much the same way that we have to change the system to capture the true costs of energy–and it starts with consumers voting with their wallets.
A few things you can do right now are here.