Monday, April 25, 2011

We Bid a Fond Farewell to Sanibel Island

lighthouse point beachWe're sitting in the airport at Fort Myers, Florida, waiting for a flight back to Philadelphia and home. We've just spent a pleasant four days on Sanibel Island, just west of here.

We stayed at an older beachfront resort called The Island Inn. It's a small and very laid back sort of place. The main activity here was none at all. We sat on the beach, we collected seashells, and did some very minor shopping. I threw in one exploratory bike ride out to the east end of the island to Lighthouse Point.

A word about seashells and beach-combing. Sanibel Island, and its neighbor Captiva, are awash in shells. I imagine they formed from shoals of shells deposited by currents unique to the area.

Sanibel is a quiet spot. The beach was not crowded and many of the homes, rentals and resorts seemed slightly populated. The Island Inn folks told us they were full, however, and said that the weeks around Easter are often the last big push of their tourist season.

Soon it will get too warm here and most of the folks who winter in Sanibel will head north. Probably some of them will be in Lewes this summer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun With Culinary History

The New York Public Library has a neat crowd-sourcing project up in which volunteers are helping to transcribe the dishes offered on their collection of historic menus.

It's called What's on the Menu?
We're transcribing our historical restaurant menus, dish by dish, so that they can be searched by what people were actually eating. It's a big job so we need your help!
I spent some time with the menu at right this evening. It's from Friday, April 26, 1901. I found dishes like:
  • Broiled squab on toast, with lettuce, for 50 cents
  • Lobster a la Newburg, for 40 cents
  • Barbecued oysters or soft clams in shell, for 35 cents
I think its fascinating to think that my great-grandfather John Redmond Farrar, a lawyer and justice of the municipal court in New York City, might have eaten here. Or maybe another great-grandfather, Augustus Charles Becker, described later by his son-in-law, my grandfather Redmond Farrar, as "a very imposing and good-looking man, over six feet tall, and very aristocratic in his bearing," might have eaten here.

They might have ordered a boiled young turkey, with oyster sauce.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rocking the Mothership

It was a last-minute sort of thing, but I traveled down to Hampton, Virginia, yesterday to see the band Furthur in concert. They were playing in the distinctive-looking Hampton Coliseum, known variously as the Mothership or the Cosmic Cupcake.

I bought a ticket earlier in the week on a whim; partly to celebrate the new job and partly because I've been following the band's setlists and photos this tour and getting more and more interested.

The band Furthur, named for the Merry Pranksters' psychedelic school bus of that name, is made up of two of the original members of the Grateful Dead -- Bob Weir and Phil Lesh -- along with a talented crew of younger musicians. As a group, they are tight and inventive and having great fun.

There was some fear that this would just be a very good Dead cover band, but they are more than that. In fact, they are a cover band in the same way that the Grateful Dead were; taking classic songs and making them feel new. The setlist for the Hampton Coliseum show includes covers of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin. Their version of Zeppelin's Fool in the Rain was particularly good.

I went alone to this show. It's fun to do that sometimes. It makes you completely free to be anonymous. And it lets me talk to all those around me. At this show, there were fans in a wide range of ages from substantially older than I am to much, much younger. 

A large group of college students (from Old Dominion University, I think) were in the row behind me. Though they would have been toddlers when the Grateful Dead last played, in 1995, some of them were  were Deadheads in the true sense. One young man had been in New York City for the run of shows at Madison Square Garden during which Furthur covered The Clash (a first, and exciting) and there were guest appearances by Elvis Costello and his wife the jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall (among others).

I was jealous.