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Reconnecting

November 09

My mom had a minor car accident today. Thankfully, she and her friend who was with her at the time are fine. The other driver is fine as well, but there was significant damage to both their cars. The other driver was clearly at fault, but as there weren’t any witnesses (and the other driver sounded like they might try to wiggle out of this one), I’m not sure how ICBC will judge this. Fingers crossed! But of course, the important thing is that nobody was hurt. Gotta keep perspective.

It’s been otherwise a very pleasant and fun last few days. We celebrated Len’s birthday all weekend! He and I went out for dinner on Saturday night at Hamburger Mary’s. Len had been hankering after their turkey burger for awhile now, so it was time to make it happen! (photos taken on Len’s iPhone)

The burger is not a turkey patty; it’s made up of pieces of roast turkey meat. Mmmm.

I had the “Vancouver Burger”: beef patty with guacamole and sprouts. The guac and sprouts made it delicious! They provided the perfect combination of creaminess and crunch. I gotta recreate this at home, with a turkey patty methinks! 😉

‘Twas a good dinner. 🙂

We had such a wonderful night. It’s not often that we get to go out for dinner alone anymore, and we both miss it. When we’re out and it’s just the two of us, away from all the distractions and, dare I say, (over-)comforts of home, we connect in a much deeper, more fundamental, way. We just talk and talk and talk. 🙂 And talk we did! All through dinner, during our wandering into a bookstore, and even after we got home and late into the night. In fact, we ended up sitting and talking in the car outside our house for close to an hour. Just like long ago when we were dating and didn’t ever want to say goodbye. Of course, I don’t know why exactly we didn’t just go inside and continue the conversation there, now that we live IN THE SAME HOUSE and therefore wouldn’t be saying goodbye. I guess it’s like I said earlier–we just seem to connect on a different level when we’re out of the house.

So that’s how we spent our extra hour from Fall fallback. What did you do with your extra hour?

To continue celebrating Len’s birthday, we declared Sunday to be “Len Day”, a day in which we did anything and everything Len wanted to do. We started with a tasty breakfast, prepared by my mom!

It included yummy sliced fish congee (Len’s favourite congee):

One of these years I’m gonna learn my mom’s secret to making this!

And we had steamed BBQ pork buns (also Len’s fave):

We also had sticky rice (NOT one of Len’s fave, but rather, one of mine):

 

Next we chilled for a bit, then headed to Superstore (hard to believe, but he said he really wanted to come!) to pick up ingredients for our dinner, which was to feature Naan pizzas!

On a whim, Len suggested we head to Au petit chavignol for lunch. It turned out to be an awesome place! It’s a quaint little place known for their amazing cheese and wine. It was delicious and so much fun!

Len had poutine, which was really good! (I’m not usually a huge fan, but this was so tasty! The whole peppercorns were the perfect addition.)

I had a trio sampling from their cheese and charcuterie list; I chose Kulen (“an eastern european style smoked salami with paprika and chillies”), Fourme d’ambert (“one of France’s oldest cheeses, dating back to Roman times”), and the Honey Bee Goat Gouda (from Holland).  Came with baguette slices and crackers (which were very light and crispy and oh so tasty!)

I thoroughly enjoyed this! The Fourme d’ambert was so creamy, and paired so well with the salty and slightly spicy salami. The gouda had the right hint of sweetness and paired beautifully with the crackers. I had so much fun with my food. 🙂 Made me look forward to trying out more such meals in Europe when we finally get to go! More wonderful talking ensued…

Afterwards, we wandered along Hastings street. And yes, more talking! 🙂

Dinner was the aforementioned Naan pizzas:

The spread included mild and spicy capicolla, spinach, mushroom, kale (sounds weird, but really tasty!), red pepper, tomato, bococcini, cheddar, and sweet pea sprouts (for a topping after the pizza is cooked–again, sounds strange, but I’m a fan).

 

My pizza:

We watched The Amazing Race and Battle of the Blades after dinner to round out what turned out to be a simple and happy day. Len was very satisfied with his Len Day. 🙂

This morning I made polenta for the first time. I’d eaten prepared polenta before, the kind that comes in a tube from the grocery store, but didn’t care much for it. But this morning, I really liked it! I think it was the flavour of some preservative that I didn’t like in the prepared polenta.

And who knew it was so easy to make!

Loved the warm yellow colour!

I had googled for the directions. I used a 3:1 ratio of liquid to cornmeal: 2 cups water, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 1 cup cornmeal. (you can also use just water, or some combination of stock or milk and water) I boiled the liquid, turned down the temperature to medium-low, and whisked in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Then I switched to a wooden spoon and kept stirring for the next 25 mins. Polenta is a no-brainer to make, but it does require you to be at the stove and stirring the whole time because it would burn or stick to the bottom of the pot otherwise. And I had read that the longer you stir it, the creamier the texture. So I stirred my little heart out and the end result was creamy and oh-so-satisfying:

I poured it into a greased 8 x 8 pan and it is currently chilling in the fridge. I plan on making a veggie chili with polenta topping tomorrow…stay tuned for details! 🙂

Len and I went to a wonderful concert tonight: Stephen Hough playing Tchaikovsky 3rd Piano Concerto and Liszt 1st Piano Concerto with the VSO. Stephen Hough is one of my favourite pianists, and tonight he gave 2 thrilling performances! The Tchaikovsky 3rd is a little-known work (I’d never heard it before and it was a VSO premiere of it tonight), and it was so cool! Hough’s exciting virtuosity was on display in this quirky, DIFFICULT, and rhythmically interesting concerto. Len said the cadenza was the highlight of tonight’s concert for him.

After the intermission, he went on to totally rock the Liszt. He had wonderful contrast between the dark, dramatic passages and the dreamy, ethereal sections. I have a cassette tape of this concerto that my dad had bought for me when I first started learning piano. I knew nothing of what a concerto was, or who Liszt was, and this music was so far beyond what I could understand at the time, but I loved listening to it. To my 6-year old self, it sounded like the battles, sadness, and triumphs of war. It fascinated and thrilled me. And tonight, I was thrilled once again.

I’m ashamed to say that tonight was the first time I’d been to a VSO concert in over 2 years. The last time was when Stephen Hough came to play the Brahms 2nd. 😉 I used to frequently attend concerts, but in the past few years, I became a bit disillusioned with the whole music world and avoided going to musical events. But I discovered tonight that I’d forgotten how much I love going to concerts, how much it thrills, uplifts, and inspires me to see live performances of the music I love so deeply. And I feel like I experienced tonight’s concert with fresh eyes and ears. And I vow to make it more of a regular outing to attend concerts.

Stephen Hough holds a special place in my heart among my favourite musicians, and it’s not only because he’s an amazing pianist and person. I used to always say that he was the person who changed the course of my life. Dramatic, I know. Back when I was a young piano student in Regina, we didn’t get many opportunities to see the world’s leading musicians. They simply didn’t come perform in lil’ ol’ Regina very often. (It’s since changed quite a bit, and Regina has a very active concert scene now) But when I was 10, we were blessed with not 1, but 2, concerts by the newly crowned winner of the prestigious Naumberg International Piano Competition. It was a young, unassuming, but extraordinary Stephen Hough who took the stage at Darke Hall that night, and blew away every single person in the audience. And in that audience was a little girl who had already grown to love music, but had never in her wildest imagination dreamed that a live performance could bring someone so much excitement, enchantment, and beauty. I sat mesmerized by the sounds that those 10 fingers could draw from the piano, and it was then and there that I started dreaming that I could one day do that too. I also witnessed for the first time in my life the power a performer has over his audience. The power to dazzle, to enchant, and make his audience feel every emotion he was feeling. We gave him the longest standing ovation I have ever seen live and he gave us FOUR encores. I’ve not seen that happen since then in all my concert experiences.

That concert set me on the path on which I still walk. I realized quite a few years ago that the concert pianist’s life was not something I wanted, so my path veered off from where I thought it would go, but my life is still full of music and it still never fails to bring me unparalleled joy and comfort. And for that I will always be grateful for that long-ago, unforgettable recital by Stephen Hough.

Plus he’s just really cool. He writes a blog! About music, life, politics, hats and other often random things!

I feel like it’s been a few days of reconnecting. For Len and myself, and for me with my love for music.

To close this (very long) post, I want to share with you one of my favourite Stephen Hough performances that I’ve come across on the internet:

Goodnight!

 

Posted by on November 9, 2010 in Hanging Out, Music, Thoughts

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