Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shaking off the Winter Doldrums

This winter is kicking some serious ass and taking its toll on all of us.
With roofs collapsing here and there in Michigan, a local news station did a piece on how to check for signs that your roof might be under stress. Number one sign? Your doors will no longer close. A quick check of the four hallway doors informed us that our roof was indeed under stress. None of the doors would close. The roof raking was not enough.
So it was back on the roof.
The roof was now somewhat cleared, the driveway was salted and drivable, and we were off for dinner and the symphony. Usually we just wing it for dinner locations but with the Boat Show in town, we thought a dinner reservation might be in order. The Open Table website didn't show any availability at Mangiamo but a voice message left on their reservation line garnered us a spot.
 We started with bruschetta but disappointingly, it arrived in a do-it-yourself form.
Still beautiful, but a bit of work to put it together.
Pasta was the order of the day, and this fantastic winter dish was back on the menu ~ butternut squash stuffed ravioli. I never use the phrase "it was to die for" because I hate the expression. So let's just say this dish is well worth a visit to Mangiamo.
Time for the symphony! We were disappointed that David Lockington would not be here but were overall quite taken with the guest conductor, Andrew Grams, by the time the concert was over. He walked out with his left arm bent at his waist with his fist clenched, his baton in his right hand. He was animated, dramatic, and altogether fun to watch.
Just a few comments about the music. Brahms wrote only one violin concerto and he wrote it for a friend of his. And he apparently (obviously?) composed it to show off the skills of his friend, violinist Joseph Joachim. Technically, it is superb. One can hear glimpses of Brahms in the orchestra but the solo part is all technique, especially in the first movement. And yes, violonist Augustin Hadelich is incredible, as he proved during his encore, flawlessly performing Paganini's Caprice #5. Again, a technical and impressive masterly performance.
The second work of the night was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. It was interesting to hear individual instruments/sections highlighted and it was impressive overall but again, we were not swept away. I'm sure this is sacrilege to fans of the composition, but other than parts of the fourth and fifth movements, it all seemed somewhat randomly constructed.
Some music can bring you to tears just through its sheer beauty, but tonight was not that night. It was technically amazing but it did not touch our souls.

But that was last night, and today brought us Sunday brunch with our son, Matt, and his girlfriend, Rachael.
The Winchester offers Sunday brunch complete with a Bloody Mary/Mimosa Bar. Your server brings you the alcohol and you belly up to the bar to make the drink yourself.  Bloody Marys all around.
Two items off the Sunday brunch menu ~ steak & eggs (with a secret, delicious aioli) and bratwurst burger. And two items off the menu ~ fish & chips and mushroom & swiss cheese burger.
Leftovers can now be carried home in an eco-friendly container displaying the iconic Winchester logo. We wish more restaurants would be as eco-friendly as The Winchester (hint ~ lose the styrofoam, everyone).
On the way home, we found these people on Reeds Lake defining their own version of fun.
Go find your auger and your own fun, and know that spring will actually come again.

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