1. The good cheer and brightness of the golgappa at Bindaas in Cleveland Park, with friends Carlos and Meghvi. Avocado plus pastry, how can you go wrong? Writes Tom Sietsma of the dish: “My pals of Indian heritage are inevitably charmed by the golgappa, sheer puffed biscuits the size of quarters, with holes in the top that hint of their fillings. A traditional well might include tangy water, chickpeas and mint, which can make for messy eating if you don’t treat the liquid salad like a single shot. [Chef Vikram] Sunderam gets around the problem by using creamy but solid avocado, along with sweetened yogurt and date-tamarind chutney, in his golgappa, one of several featured chaat (savory snacks).”
2. The smoked paprika casarecce at Sfoglina in Van Ness. The menu describes it as “lobster, octopus, Amalfi style,” and no dish since our Amalfi honeymoon has taken us back there so dramatically. That pasta beat the other two we tasted, but barely. The restaurant is beautiful (“The restaurant is a girl,” says the owner, Maria), and we left feeling every dish on the menu is probably delicious.
3. Paterson with friend Darren at E Street Cinema. A great movie about poetry! Of all things. Not only is the movie about poetry, but it feels like poetry, slowing you down and finding moments to be weird while keeping your focus. It’s also a celebration of the most fascinating kind of poetic life to me — the poet who has a day job. Bus driving, in this case. Poetry magazine has a good audio interview with Ron Padgett, whose Alone and Not Alone I really liked last year, and who was the poetry consultant and wrote all the poems for the movie.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life at the Miracle Theater on Barracks Row, the night before the night before Christmas. The town had emptied out, and the theater was only a quarter full or less. Everyone laughed. Everyone got quiet. The movie held up in glorious fashion. Lori had a bad cold, and we still had a great time.