Wednesday 4 March
As new president of the AIA, Barbara had planned Bridget Buxton's visit well ahead of time: her lecture on Augustus at the Art Museum would go from 7 to 8 PM, with a few minutes for questions, and then a reception afterwards. By 9 PM our party (Bridget, Holt, Barbara, Steven, and Antonis) would arrive at the Anchor, one of the new restaurants near Music Hall that stay open late. We would give our speaker a hearty meal and some wine, take her back to her hotel, and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
Then the reception fell through, snowpocalypse was hallooed, and the entire city went into panic mode. Businesses and institutions snapped closed like oysters. Barbara watched as no snow fell until a dusting began at 3 PM, and held firm: tonight's show would go on.
At 6 PM, we drove through an inch of snow to the Museum for a tech check.
At 7, Bridget began lecturing for the 28 people who had braved the inch and a half now on the ground. It was going marvelously.
At 7:40, Barbara's phone (luckily silenced) buzzed: Anchor (the wimps) had decided to close early.
At 8, when the lecture ended, Barbara called, heard the bad news, and asked the owner "Could you look out across the street and see if Zula is open?" Luckily, it was.
So we drove through streets made silent by a big, fat two inches of snow to Zula.
We have taken a post-lecture party to Zula before, and not only enjoyed the food, wine, and service, but got away with a rather merciful bill. It was no different now.
The night called for red wine, so we chose a pair of duelling Tempranillos: 2011 Campos Reales from La Mancha, and Marqués de Reinosa from Rioja, both very good.
And there had to be tapas for the table: Scottish salmon "toro," chopped up with avocado, shallots, and tomato concassé; charred calamari with cherry tomatoes, watercress, preserved lemons, and tahini; and Zula's eggplant fries dusted with confectioner's sugar and served with a spicy-sour dipping sauce.
Most of us then chose big plates, which change nightly. Holt and Barbara shared one like a presage of spring (sautéed tiger shrimp with sweet peas, grape tomatoes, pearl onions, shaved fennel, and potato-basil gnocchi in a white wine, butter, orange, basil sauce), and a more wintry option (generous slices of pan-seared prime beef loin on a Moroccan-spiced tagine of butternut and yellow squash, zucchini, rutabaga, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, and golden raisins on top of saffron-herb couscous, with a drizzle of spiced veal jus for dipping).
We know this level of detail because Zula's kindly gave us that night's menu; we were the last diners to leave, and no one else would come, due to the three inches of snow through which we drove home.
So our thanks go to Bridget, to the staff of the Art Museum, and to Zula, for getting us through it all with style, courtesy, and savor.