Since I'm such a sweetheart (except when I eat Mister's soup), I woke up on the first day of my serendipitous three day weekend this morning. As usually happens on days I can sleep in a bit, I woke up an hour before I needed to in a complete panic that I was going to be late if I didn't get up right now. Fortunately, I remembered quickly that I was off today and didn't have anywhere to be until I went to see the magnificent and persevering Philadelphia Orchestra play the first concert in their opening series.
Please forgive the blurry picture, but you can see the important bits. The pouty young man in the lower right corner is Julian Rachlin, the violin soloist for today's (and tomorrow's and Sunday's) performance. He is quite a performer! He is actually only a few years older than Mister and I and I laughed a little to myself when he took the stage - I had no idea they could make nice expensive suits to imitate the growing (and somewhat disturbing) trend of skinny jeans on boys. I discussed this with a colleague 12 years my junior - she sees no problem with boys wearing girlpants. Call me old-fashioned, but men's and women's pants are designed differently because, frankly, men and women have different spacial needs in certain areas....
Anyway, back to the performance. Julian was totally a rockstar - he was a pleasure to watch as he nearly danced along with the more lively parts of the music he played and had some of the most charmingly pretentious facial expressions and theatrical, dance-like movements while he was waiting for the orchestra to let him play again.
Ordinarily, when I see the orchestra (not that it's a common occurrence, though I'm trying to weasel my way into the Lang Lang concert next Saturday, what would have been Franz Lizst's 200th birthday), I prefer to sit in the balcony so I can see all of the instrumentalists, not just the ones closest to the stage front. The seats Mister and I occupied today were the closest I have ever sat to the Orchestra and it was amazing to be able to see the faces of the performers. In a time when the arts in Philadelphia are encumbered at best and more realistically, endangered, and in the first few days of a new contract negotiation for the players which results in "downsizing" their salaries and benefits (the Orchestra declared bankruptcy earlier in the year and is trying to keep one of the world's best orchestras afloat), it was heart-warming to see how genuinely they enjoy playing their instruments.
For any arts lovers out there, here is the concert I had the privilege of seeing this afternoon:
Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Opus 25 ("Classical)
Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D minor, Opus 47 which was magnificent
Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus 92 (which was featured in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus if anyone is familiar)
I loved every minute, but classical music is not really Mister's thing. To reward him for accompanying me, we visited a new restaurant for a late lunch (resulting in no fun dinner stories, unless you want to hear about the PB&J I'm about to eat). Zavino is a pizza and wine bar, part of the 13th Street Renaissance owed to a pair of visionary female entrepreneurs. Despite the threatening sky, we elected to sit outside. There was an awning to protect us when it did start to pour but we felt badly for the waitresses who brought our food (shielded by a tray over top). We started with a tray of marinated olives and an apple and candied walnut salad, then each of us got our own pizza. They had a Garden Pizza on the menu and when the waitress told me what was on it, there was no question what I would order: house-made marinara (spectacular) with large, thin slices of garlic, sauteed spinach and thin spirals of fennel. It was amazing. Even better, my evil plan worked - it started raining once we were seated and stopped when we paid the bill, allowing us to stroll home without getting wet. Timing is everything folks.
Speaking of timing, this seems a good time to share the new menu!
1. Monk Bowl from The 30 Minute Vegan because it's been a really, really long time since I've cooked from this book and I missed a couple of the recipes. Those follow:
2. Pasta Florentine, which, to be honest, was the whole reason I was looking through the book to begin with.
3. Put the Tex in Your Mex Chili. I'll be honest (again). I hate the name of this meal, as well as a lot of others in the book. There is no need to be this cheesy - it's a vegan cookbook! :)
4. Homey Vegetable Stew with Dumplings requires a little extra effort but is so worth it.
5. Farfalle with White Beans and Cabbage from Vegan on the Cheap. It's a 7-meal menu and the week before payday, so I figured I should probably complete the menu with some favorites from this book.
6. Mexican Rice and Bean Bake
7. Better-Than-Takeout Tofu Stir-fry