Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Bluebird Cafe

Bluebird Cafe is a small vegetarian restaurant, that serves the best breakfast in the city. I can't vouch for lunch or dinner (which focuses on Indian food), as I've never had it, but I'm told its excellent as well. Although maybe not the best in the city. But breakfast is suburb.

They serve mostly omelets, but they do have a few egg less options as well, particularly the tofu scramble. But the German pancakes are divine. They are particular good with walnuts and bananas. They really don't need syrup either, but they can come with it.

The omelets are good too. They have a Mexican omelet with beans that is surprisingly good. All the omelets come with either whole wheat toast or whole wheat biscuits. The biscuits are actually quite good. They also have their own brand of coffee, which is pretty decent. Bluebird also serves very excellent quiches, which are large enough portions to make a meal themselves.

On the weekends,(particularly Sunday morning) Bluebird Cafe is pretty crowded and the service is slower. But it's still worth it. You might have to wait a while for a table, but not more than 15 or 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

John Water's Cry-baby

Cry- baby (1990) is a spoof of 50’s teeny bopper musicals. It was conceived, written and directed by that twisted mind of a genius, John Waters, known for movies like Hairspray, and Serial Mom. Like most of his movies, this movie is highly stylized (think 50’s tv show’s Leave it to Beaver and that one with Mayberry and the sherriff). Cry-baby features a multitude of twisted and disturbed archetypal yet quirky characters. This movie has a rather simple plot, boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. But it still has a special little shine that makes it worth watching. Aside from the constant onslaught of 50’s music and the detailed period costumes and settings, the one thing that really carries this movie is the satire and gross (although mostly not in a vulgar sense) that is characteristic of John Waters.

The movie features a number of diverse characters, in particular Cry-baby (Johnny Depp) and Allison (Amy Locane). Crybaby, a charactature of a young Elvis, is a juvenile delinquent from the local trailer park (Turkey Point), whose parents were executed (he even has a tattoo of a electric chair). He leads a gang called the Drapes, and his inbred family consists of such quirky charters as grandma and her husband uncle Belvedere (Iggy Pop, also an excellent punk rocker). Allison , on the other hand is a sweet girl with a “good” boyfriend, Baldwin (Steven Mailer), whose Grandmother (Polly Bergen) is “the role model for all squares everywhere”. Both are orphans, which is one item that bonds the two characters.

There are a number of other supporting characters that are notable. Look for Ricky Lake as the young pregnant mother of two comically cute adult-like kids (Jessica Raskin and Jonathan Benya), T as the father of Hatchet Face (Kim McGuire), a rather ugly member of Cry-baby’s gang, and Tracy Lords (attempting to start a legitimate acting career) as another member of the Drapes. Another interesting character, a foreign exchanged student from the Netherlands, appears in a funny scene between Traci Lord’s character and her idiot “hip”, “enlightened” parents (Patricia Herst and David Nelson).

The plot of the movie follows Cry-baby's pursuit of Allison, and his arrest and release. It seems to be secondary, to the action, comedy, and musice of the movie. In the begining of the movie Alison's gradmother is holding a singing contest. Allison's boyfriend sings "Life would be a dream", followed by Alison her self who sings "Teenage prayer". On the other side of town the Rickets are having thier own show out at Turkey Point. Cry-baby sings an Elivis style song. All the music is lip-synched which is obvious after watching the end of bunny hop sequence in front of Allisons house.

There's a lot of symbolism and classic 50's elements in this movie. In one of the opening scenes an air raid siren sounds and the squares all hide under tables until the all clear. The rickets represent the bad side of town. They are lusty inbread white trailer trash who wear leather jackets and ride motorcyles and like to fight. In contrast, Allison's group, the squares are almost a sexual well bred society types. The Rickets dance the jitterbug infront of a confederate flag with negros, while the squares go to singing contest in a house that looks like a church. One of the most pivital scenes is fight between the Rickets and the squares. It's this duality that makes the film so endering.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Grit

The Grit is one of my favorite Athens restaurants. Although not what converted me to vegetarianism, (yeah I will admit it is kind of like a religion), it’s the kind of place that routinely satisfies hard core meat lovers. As to what actually made me go veggie I would attribute that to the fact that when cooked right morning star farms chicken nuggets taste better than the real thing, and not wanting to eat the horrible dry chicken at place near Disney. Of course that’s not why I still am, and no I’m not going to go into that here, but if you ask I will certainly tell you as little or as much as you want to know.

One of the more interesting things about this restaurant is how accessible it is. In fact it’s so accessible that they released a best-selling cookbook that gave away most of their secrets. It didn’t seem to hurt business (it actually seemed to help), so obviously there is more to the Grit than just the sum of the ingredients.

Probably the most famous item on the menu is the Golden Bowl, and while it’s a great introduction to tofu its not the only item on the menu. One of the features is that the Grit has a large selection of rotating items in addition to the special of the day. They always have about 10-15 different vegetables of the day, which can be combined to make a meal by itself. Personally, I think they have the best mac n’ cheese ever, and I order it every time its on the menu. You should also vegetable samosas, and they have excellent split pea dahl. They have a Mid-eastern sampler that’s worth a try too. Recently they added a ruben sandwhich, and while it may not taste exactly like the real thing its close enough and good enough not to really matter. They have specials worth looking for like their chili cheese dogs and lasagna with feta cheese. Most everything on the menu is great. I can‘t think of anything that I would stay away from. At one point I went there so frequently I could recite the menu, but since moving out of town for a while and having to learn how to cook and then moving back incredibly broke, it is a minor regret of mine that this is no longer the case. They also have great desserts - -some of which are vegan (for those of you into that kind of thing). You can also order teas, coffee, sodas, and beer.

The Grit is somewhat of a cult phenomenon. It’s particularly famous with indie rock set and other artists. Many of the more "famous" ones either work their now or have worked there in the past. The Grit is frequently crowded, but not too crowded. On weeknights its pretty busy, but there usually isn't a wait.

The atmosphere is very bohemian chic. There’s always art on walls, but it’s never the same for long. None of the plates, tables and chairs, ect. match which gives the place the feel that it was decorated from thrift store buys (and according to this article in the Flagpole it was!). The Grit was one the first local places to have unisex bathrooms (two of them). The music is nice -mostly indie rock. It used to be really quiet, but they seem to have fixed that problem. At night the light is too low for my taste. Actually, those last two things might be the real reason why I don’t go there very much. Plus, I live with an obsessive-compulsive carnivore that really hates same sex bathrooms.

Whether or not you like the atmosphere, the Grit is certainly worth checking out. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it. If your veggie or vegan I‘m sure you‘ll find something to awe over, and if not maybe you find that being one doesn’t always have to be as bad as it looks.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saving Grace (and Gabriel Kelley)

Saving Grace is the name of a very good gourmet restaurant in Comer, GA (yes they have a restruant in Comer!!!). It also the name of a song by a very good and very promising local act currently going by the name of Gabriel Kelley. Members of Gabriel Kelley frequently play acoustic sets at the restaurant. I don't know if this was planned or some kind of happy accident. I do know that the song has been around longer than the restaurant, so the band did not name the song after it.

Saving Grace is a fairly new restaurant. I belive it opened sometime this past summer. They do not have an alcohol liscense yet, but you may bring in your own beer or wine. They have an excellent menu featuring fresh produce which I have been told comes mostly from the Comer Farmers Market (located next door). They serve a veriety of food including a vegitarian fare at reasonable prices ($8-15). They also serve coffee and excellent desserts. I had the spinach lasagne and the green beans, both were excellently prepared using fresh ingredents and just the right spices. The only complaint I had was that they did not serve bread, but the food was so good I did not miss it. As I mentioned they also serve coffee and excellent desserts. I had a carmel cake which may now be my new favorite. It was indescribably deliscious, especially with coffee.

Gabriel Kelley played two acoustic sets while we enjoyed our meal. I have to say I've enjoyed watching Gabe and his sound mature over the years. We got a special treat as Gabe's mom joined them on her mandolin at the beginging of the first set in the cover of a folk song. As you may or may not know Gabe got his start a young age playing at picking parties and the Hoot with the Athens Folk Music and Dance Society. They also played several originals, including the aformentioned "Saving Grace" "Daisies" and "Breathe". They bill them selves as a country/folk/pop group but I encourage you to decide for yourself how to catagorize them. Or you could forget about labels and listen to them either at thier website or (the better choice) live.
Gabriel Kelley will be playing two shows in the athens area next week. Tuesday night (October 17th) they will be at the Mercury Lounge and Thursday (October 19th) they will be the opening act at the Flicker Theater and Bar. I am interested in finding out what they sound like as a full band and plan on checking them out.