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I enjoy the food (preparation and taste) at the New Scenic Cafe. I also enjoy the variety of wines from around the world. And I choose my visits to look at the changing artwork from local painters and sculptors. My recent visit was rewarding on all counts.
To start, we chose wines of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, one from France and one from New Zealand. The French wine was flowery, very fresh, with a light feeling left on the tongue. The New Zealand wine was definitely full-bodied, with a darkness flavored with dates or figs that caught me off guard at first.
Then we shared a gorgeous plate of Belgian endive, sliced and adorned with charred asparagus, a light touch of prosciutto, with a very smooth poppyseed dressing. That really celebrated the French wine, for sure. We followed that with the Pork Pibil, laced with avocado, cheese, lime, and cream, along with a bolillo roll. The heavier New Zealand wine went really well with this dish.
Ultimately, we celebrated with coffee and the warm black mission figs, topped with walnuts, Danish blue cheese, under a dressing of browned butter maple. Spread that on a bite of ciabatta and savor the taste.
While dining last week, we enjoyed several paintings by Ann Jenkins, and a new collection by Anni Friesen. I share with you the two that I kept wanting to look at again before we left the restaurant. The deep blue of Jenkins’ sky would draw me inside the tree line. Both the blue and the gold of Friesen’s Harvest Moon added a soft glow to the dining experience.
A challenging look back at 1963 with a Dogfight
Over the weekend we attended Renegade Theater’s closing performance of Dogfight, a musical drama by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. This 2012 musical was directed by Peter Froehlingsdorf, with stage manager Matt Pursi and musical director/conductor Paul Christenson. I enjoy watching our talented high school faculty taking on theatrical assignments during the summer months.
There were many strange aspects of the evening’s performance. The young Marines, just away from boot camp in the fall of 1963 and headed for Vietnam, were definitely immature and abusive to all the women they came across. The search for the ugliest date turned out to be a rather rude awakening for all involved in the drunken fiasco. The boys went off to Vietnam, and three years later one of them returns to that San Francisco scene from the past. The other Marines are dead, anti-war feelings have risen, while many of the women have taken new and stronger control of their personal lives.
Musically, this driving show is at least two-thirds opera, with the singing revealing the story more than the moments of dialogue. All evening the Renegade stage was pulsing with the six-member band and some energized choreography by Matthew Wagner. Luke Harger as Eddie Birdlace and Amanda Hennen as Rose Fenney were the creative highlights of the entire performance.
Eddie is more innocent than immature, and he has sensitivities his Marine buddies don’t yet acknowledge. He is actually embarrassed by the rowdy evening, and attempts to redeem the relationship with Rose before he has to fly overseas. Rose, on the other hand, has to embrace a whole slate of emotions during the show. Hennen was dynamic, colorful, and very much in control of the adult world she was learning about. By the final scenes, she has gained some wisdom from the young sparrow, who is too afraid to fly.
This was solid, edgy theater, in the Renegade style, which is so wonderful to have in Duluth. Questions from those mid-sixties are still with us, particularly in 2017, as aggression is a bit more socially acceptable than it has been in recent decades. Where do we want this culture to go from here? I hope you got a chance to watch these young performers growing up in earnest.