Dinosaur Love: Croce’s.

April 30, 2013

B wordlessly appeared in my doorway gallantly holding a bright bouquet of yellow roses and looking like he had just stepped off a movie set. He was dressed in crisp black slacks, a perfectly tailored button-up shirt, sleek aviators, and his classic million dollar smile.

Uh, helloooo.

This was a big date. After a whirlwind two months of raw food, parking tickets, a whole lotta whispering, and a teensy bit of hand-holding, this was finally where things came to a head. We were about to face the elephant in the room and look the interminably awkward “Define the Relationship” monster (otherwise known as DTR) right in the eye.

But not quite yet. We had to leave the apartment first.

Despite B’s dapper getup, I myself was inexplicably attired in faded blue jeans, a snorefest of a casual blue sweater, and beat up brown flats. I had not a lick of makeup on and I think I still did not own a hairbrush at this time in my life. In an even more perplexing turn of events, I opted not to change before heading out–a stubborn decision I will question to my grave. Sigh. I have always been a late bloomer. (But that is why I have my relentlessly sparkling personality, right? Heh.)

And so we continued on. We rolled our way downtown in the hatchback Subaru, and B proceeded to exhuberantly belt his way through every song that came on the radio. I really did not feel like I knew this guy well enough to be in the presence of a such unabashed freedom, so I mainly rode in embarrassed silence (though I did quite admire his severe lack of shame). At the time, I thought his flamboyant histrionics were perhaps inspired by nerves or over-compensation of self-confidence, but I know now it is just…normal.

Maybe he got himself too riled up after his riveting vocal performances, but after we arrived, I stood and watched in confusion as B made multiple attempts to feed cash through the credit card slot of the parking meter. When he finally realized his error, he wordlessly submitted the correct form of payment and herded me along.

We strolled up a to glittering seafood establishment, and while I gawked, B with his trademark confidence, coolly stated his full name and reservation time. The hostess scanned her list. And then began flipping through the pages of her appointment book. And then scanned her list again. After several minutes of strangely prolonged searching, she offered, “I…don’t see your name anywhere. Are you sure you’re not Frederick?”

I guffawed and then before I knew it, B had grabbed my hand was briskly dragging me through a blinking crosswalk. It was not until we reached the other side of the street and had traversed a few blocks that I realized B had accidentally stopped at the wrong restaurant.

It seemed terribly wicked to laugh in that hilariously disoriented moment for B, but I was, in all honesty, very amused. This guy’s feathers were impossible to ruffle and his measures of self-assurance were always brimming. Yet here he was bumbling about (ah, young love). Still, ever the consummate smooth fellow, at least by appearance, he played it off like it ain’t no thing, and before long, we appeared at the intended eatery, an equally fancy restaurant with its own sleek exterior.

“I know you like live jazz (such a stalker), so I thought Croce’s would be a great place to enjoy some tonight,” B revealed. Except, as it turned, we were underage and not actually allowed to sit in the live music lounge.

So there we were, relegated to a table in the corner of the restaurant, B in his finest, me in what was decidedly not my finest, listening to soft tinklings of far-off piano stylings, and enjoying what was theoretically a milestone dinner that was panning out to be much more like a comedy of errors.

I recently read that Croce’s will be closing at the end of the year and permanently leaving its long-held post in the Gaslamp. I am sure so many of the multitudes that have floated in and out over the decades have a wide array of memories—stories of romance and light-hearted laughs like ours even—attached to such a historic locale, B and myself included. There will always be a sense of comical charm, so reflective of what our relationship continues to embody today, evoked by the quintessential jazz bar lounge. Just as quaint memories of old times past live on to bring nostalgic delight far into the present and the future, so too will the legendary Croce’s establishment.

And hopefully B and my history as well. Six years and counting.

(If that also tells you how the DTR went. Ahem.)

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Lima Diaries: Churro Crusade.

September 17, 2012

That mortifying awkward moment when I said, “Show me your churro!” Oops.

After four disappointing and terribly stale endeavors (see above for the first instance), we finally encountered a gloriously crispy, crunchy churro destined for full fried dough enjoyment. We paid a hefty sum for the sugary delight, but the satisfaction was more than worth it. Riquisimo!

Lima Diaries: Menu.

September 15, 2012

At lunchtime, there is something called a menu at restaurants all over the city that allows diners to eat a filling noonday meal for cheap. There are generally several appetizer options and another list of available entrees. Any combination of the two are chosen, accompanied by a free drink (usually some sort of fruit juice) and a set price. It is a pretty great concept considering we managed to eat very well for less than $5USD on several occasions–meat included!

Another interesting fact about the Peruvian food scene: Chinese-Peruvian fusion is ubiquitous. There is chifa, the official title for the cuisine blend, and there are certainly plentiful establishments declaring themselves servers of chifa. But what I also discovered was that even at regular Peruvian restaurants, many of the offerings were really Chinese dishes and flavors under Spanish designation.

G and I wandered our way into a hole-in-wall after asking all sorts of characters on the street for recommendations. I ordered Sopa de Semola (a semolina beef soup) and pollo saltado. The description the waiter provided about the latter smacked entirely of Latin food. Yet when my plate arrived and the morsels went into my mouth, it was essentially chicken stir fry dominated by dark notes of soy sauce. It was even served with white rice (strangely plated in the shape of a four leaf clover). That was not the last time I unwittingly ordered Chinese food despite my best intentions…

We were also served an interesting juice that looked like lemonade but tasted bland in the most horrible way. Free was the only reason why it was acceptable, but we still tested with baited breath our lunch drinks the following day until we sighed with relief over sweet passionfruit soothing our worried tongues.

Food experiences while traveling are always an adventure.

Sopa de Semola

Pollo Saltado (aka: basic chicken stir fry).

Escabeche de pollo.

Bellini’s in My Belly.

September 8, 2012

Washed up after a long day at the storage unit and ready for delicious pasta.