Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Peak Forsythia

The picture of my house on Google Earth is sharp. The outline of the roof is clear, trees stand out as individuals. It was taken on a day much like today. And at exactly this time of year. I know because there is a big patch of yellow at the end of my driveway. The forsythia. It peaked today. Last week it was still snowing; today it is in the eighties. Tomorrow the forsythia petals will blanket the ground.

Google's spy cam was not sharp enough to show the mailbox polo hits, however. Or which hero scored the winning blow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day in Central Park

Three years ago, Christo transformed Central Park. I was reluctant to spend a gray February day in the park and was fully prepared to be disappointed. I wasn't. In fact, I was converted by The Gates within seconds. The installation was magic. The scale was breathtaking, the execution was impeccable; but for me the beauty was mostly in the mood The Gates created. Everyone in the park or near it was thrilled. For three of the most dismal winter weeks, those bright orange flags made New York a sunny place. Yesterday, Central Park had much of the same vibe. Rather than emanating from the vision of one artist, however, it came from the efforts, and perhaps relaxations, of many: Pope Benedict XVI, the local Earth Day organizers, Frederick Law Olmsted and the sunbathers.

Along Fifth Avenue, throngs gathered to see the pope. Signs read "WE LOVE YOU"; some waved Vatican flags. There was lots of music and singing, mostly Latin American. Kids waited with their parents and dogs; no crying or snarling. Everyone was in a fine mood and the helicopters hovering directly overhead did nothing to dampen it. I saw Pope Benedict for a few blinks an eye, encased in his white popemobile. Lots of waving, cheering and then it was time for a walk in the park.

There were activities all over. Like the police spotters guarding the pope, Red Tailed hawks watched us from skyscrapers; we spied on them through Swarovski scopes. One meter yatching enthusiasts raced remote control boats in the Conservancy Water. Following in Dylan's footsteps, Don McCloskey sang protest songs to a new generation at the band shell. The music was part of an all day program organized by peacexpiece. Paul Kostabi provided direction for a collaborative patchwork mural, said to be the world's largest and longest "eco mural." Sunshine Burger and Wholemato handed out organic whole food veggie burgers with the best ketchup I've ever tasted. Glint and Rely Records distributed Dawn redwood seedling kits with instructions how to propgate them (and a web address to track where they are eventually planted). Lennon fans decorated the Imagine Mosiac with dozens of cut flowers.

It was sunny, warm, and positively bursting with life. The grass was lush, the daffodils and tulips were glorious, and Olmsted's trees were sprouting fresh foliage which cast a lemon lime light. New Yorkers were soaking it all in. I can think of no better place on Earth to be on this particular day.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rogue in Ellenville

Chef Marcus Guiliano at the Aroma Thyme Bistro hosted a feast when Rogue craft brewers came to Ellenville. The five course menu was launched with Kells Irish Lager (which Marcus had on tap) to complement Marcus's spinach and apple salad with two blue cheeses (Rogue Crater Lake and Smokey Blue); the apple notes in the Kells were great with both the greens and the cheeses.

The Uber Pilsner cleansed the palate on the way to the next course: soba noodles with stir fried mushrooms and Long Island micro greens paired with Morimoto Soba Ale. The buckwheat noodles worked but the beer didn't. The beer was true to its ingredients but they are better in the noodles.

Next we had Emperor Fish with a Thai style coconut curry sauce accompanied by Rogue's Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. Both were outstanding and worked very well together. I will definitely be drinking the Imperial again. Morimoto has a big golden beer worthy of an Iron Chef.

At this point, Marcus interrupted the meal with a bonus 3 litre bottle he had been cellaring for three years: Hazelnut Brown Nectar. This could have been dessert. Rich and heavy with a hint of nutty sweetness.

Next came a couple of ales and a lamb steak with polenta and roasted onions (gotta love the onions). The Dead Guy and Saint Rogue Red both were up to the task. I'm not sure I was though.

Now came dessert: Sherry & Fruit Trifle with a glass of Chocolate Stout. Officially, there was no choice but to love the stout because the representative from Rogue had her picture on the bottle. Maybe it was the trifle which pushed me over the edge. Whatever it was, I was pinned to the mat and had to cry uncle. I never even tried the Old Crustacean. Marcus confided he still has some in the cellar.