Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
Good Music/Good Food in East Village
This past Sunday, 2 friends came over to my place for a relaxed brunch. The 3 amigos had not been together for awhile. I served a chicken salad on a bed of greens and it was quite tasty (cooked, chopped chicken, dried cranberries, fresh corn sliced from the cob, parsley, celery salt, with a dressing of mayo, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, onion, lemon juice. In addition, we had heated whole grain baguette (Pannera), carrot sticks and grapes. Of course, I had baked something for dessert. I made a 2 layer yellow cake with rich chocolate frosting. In the center was a concoction of cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter. Very nice, indeed. We also had mimosas.
Afterwards 2 of us wandered over to the library for the first of 6 in a series of concerts. This one was absolutely wonderful. The group was the Kensington (not Kingston) Trio. They have been performing together since 2001.
Yuri Kytasty, a Russian immigrant from Kiev, Ukraine, is a cellist. That man can play! I was mesmerized watching his hands move across that instrument. His facial expressions revealed a passion for the music he was playing.
His daughter, Natalka Kytasty plays the violin. Like her father, she was passionate and talented. Both she and her father are members of the San Diego Lyric Opera Orchestra.
Ronald Morebello is the pianist. His bio states that he performs in piano four-hand concerts. I wonder how he does that. I did not see any additional appendages!! His hands moved across those piano keys with finesse, whether sotto voce or loud and demanding. A side note was the pianist's page turner. She did not seem to know when to turn. Mr. Morebello, apparently frustrated by her efforts, turned the page himself on a few occasions, once with real zeal. (Bet she got hollered at later!)
The program was a good mix of music. They started off with several pieces by Chopin. Next was the Hungarian dance music which I especially enjoyed, even half expecting Teyve to appear on stage! The second half was Buenos Aires, Spring & Autumn. These numbers included some impeccable timing coordination and quite a few changes in tempo. It was very adeptly performed by this group. For more information you can go to their website: http://www.kensingtonconcertseries.com.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an hour on Sunday afternoon. It is free, with a request for a donation. There are five more concerts at our downtown library, 9/12, 9/26, 10/10, 10/24, and 11/07. You can get more details on their website:
A couple weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to try out the El Vitral restuarant on J St., right behind the Petco Park in the Park. It is a very nice place with a patio overlooking the Park. Their specialty is Tequila. They have over 250 different brands and the bartenders make some very interesting margaritas. There is even a $300 margarita, which has yet to be ordered by anyone. My friend had a violet margarita that was so smooth and had a distinctive flavor of violet aftertaste. I had a good excuse for choosing this restaurant-- they have $1 mimosas for Saturday & Sunday brunch. The waiter brings the champagne to the table, fills the flute, then tops it off with a dash of orange juice. I had 3!!!
This is far from your typical Mexican fare (rice & beans). It is almost like Tapas. Yummy. My friend ordered fish tacos. There were 3, served on an oblong dish. The tortillas are maybe 5 inches in diameter. They are set on the plate with the fish & cabbage on top. They were very good. Before our entrees arrived, I ordered guacamole. They have 3 choices, a hot, spicy one; a sweet one; and a really good one!! It came with a basket of ordinary chips. We loved the guacamole and ate every drop! My entree was tostadas. Again the elongated plate, 2 small tortillas, topped with black beans and cold pulled beef salad. There was no skimping. The beef was tender & tasty, with a hint of citrus. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our waiter, Daniel, was attentive and efficient. The music was appropriately in the background, so we did not have to shout to carry on a conversation. This restaurant gets 2 thumbs up, 5 stars, whatever method you choose to use. It is very good. I will be going back as often as possibe. Check out their website at: http://www.elvitralrestaurant.com
You can make reservations via Open Table.
Have you wandered around downtown recently? The Gaslamp theatres at 5th & G have a new marquee; "Reading Cinemas". I am unsure about the concept of reading a movie. Are they all subtitles? Do you need to bring your own book or do they have them at the theatre?