Monday, December 21, 2009

Dinner and a Show: Second City's "Peach Drop, Stop, and Roll" and Dinner at Restaurant Eugene

For those who aren’t familiar with the Second City, you’re missing out on the improv/sketch comedy troupe that started the careers of famous comedians such as Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, and Stephen Colbert. They even gave us SCTV with the lovable Bob & Doug MacKenzie and one of my favorite versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (click here to view an animated version; feel free to skip the movie trailer after it’s over). Hubby and I saw last year’s show, “Too Busy to Hate, Too Hard to Commute,” and were excited to hear that they planned to return during the holiday season. We saw their current show, “Peach Drop, Stop, and Roll” on Sunday.

If you’re too sensitive and easily offended, you should probably skip this one, as they skewer everyone from the “Real” “Housewives” of Atlanta (yes, extra quotes intentional – there’s nothing real about the women, three of whom aren’t even housewives) to unemployed former radio sidekick Tom Sullivan to Atlanta icons such as Clark Howard. I liked how they passed over some obvious subjects (e.g., traffic) to mock associated woes such as the history of Atlanta’s public transit problems, presented in song form to the tune of “Modern Major General.” They did take the softball and poke fun at how Atlantans panic at the merest hint of snow. Second City is based in Chicago, where it snows from October to April or something ridiculous like that, so it’s forgivable – they’re just jealous that when we get it, our snow doesn’t get icky. My favorite sketch was of the Segue Tour of downtown Atlanta, where Amy Roeder plays the tour guide (on a real Segue), and the others pose as the attractions, such as the first, “a common sight: abandoned building beside non-functioning fountain.”

The only point in the show that missed a step was the opening sketch of the second act, the theme of which was how people seem to be a completely different person when they return to their hometowns. I liked the surreal nature of the piece, but I don’t know that it fit well with the rest of the show outside of some shock value. Other than that, the show was great, and I’d recommend seeing it before it ends on December 27.

We had some time to kill between the show and our dinner reservations, so we stopped by the bar at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Table 1280 restaurant. I enjoyed a glass of the 2006 Louis Latour "Valmoissine" Pinot Noir (VDP, Fr). This didn’t taste like a French-style pinot with its currant-earth nose and light cran-fruit that deepened and darkened to berry pie. Hubby had a martini, and we watched a young couple who were being followed around by a photographer. We have no idea who they are, maybe “real narcissists of Atlanta.”

Then it was off to Restaurant Eugene for dinner (web site is s-l-o-w today). I’d eaten there previously, and Hubby’s been wanting to try it, so we were excited. We decided to do the 5-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings. The amuse-bouche, pickled uni with charred mandarin orange over an uni custard, satisfied any pre-existing salt or sweet craving conditions. We’d ordered glasses of Gruet sparkling, and the amuse brought out the minerality in the wine.

The first wine in the pairing, a 2008 Chateau Ducasse white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend) had a lime-mineral nose with citrus palate heavy on grapefruit. The first course, a fluke tartare with grapefruit zest and juice, early Vidalia onion, and cardamom cracker mellowed the wine out and had nice bright flavors on its own. The second wine surprised us in that it was a Riesling, the 2007 Max Ferdinand Richter (Mosel, Germany). Dry and fruity with a floral nose and apricots and more floral notes on the palate, this was one that even Hubby liked. The course, a seared diver scallop with pork belly, rutabaga puree, and apples, had enough salt for the wine to balance it and was a fun combination of tastes and textures.

Then it was on to the reds! Or at least one red. The 2007 Chateau des Rogues Vacqueyras (Vacqueyras Controlees, Rhone, Fr) had a few of my favorite things in it, namely Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. It did have some fruit, but more oak and acidity with some bitterness that wanted food. It did mellow to nice cherry notes with the tender duck breast, persimmon puree, and maitake shrooms.

The cheese course came next. Green Hill cheese from Sweet Grass dairy had a texture like a brie, but tasted a little too funky for hubby. I tasted his, and my piece was definitely milder. It was paired with the Domaine de Aubuisieres Vouvray (Chenin Blanc): mildly sweet and floral with some vanilla and citrus.

By that point, Hubby was over me taking notes on my Blackberry, so I don’t have any specifics for dessert, just that it was some sort of custard with cranberry sauce and was served with a cream sherry. It was good, sweet and sour, but it probably could have used some chocolate. But then, I think every dessert could use some chocolate.

Dining at Eugene was a great experience from start to finish, when the waiter brought us complimentary decaf coffee (no, FTC, he didn’t know I’m a blogger). We never felt rushed during the meal, and it felt like dining European-style with all the courses and being there for three and a half hours, which was how we ended up not being drunk by the end of the evening. Kudos to chef Linton Hopkins for a great tasting menu and to the sommelier for the excellent wine pairings!

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