Wednesday night after dinner (and the irritating aquarium) a group of us were sitting out on the porch. Hot, muggy weather, but it was charming out there with the birds and the trees and all. It was getting a wee bit dark and the breeze was picking up a little bit when Sara pipes up with “I think I just saw lightning!”
I hadn’t seen anything so I wasn’t in the pooh pooh crowd, but the idea was soundly rejected until Sara was proven correct. Lovely jagged lightning bolts with an occasional rumble. No rain, but enough of a storm feel that we decided to adjourn for the evening and wander our way back to the hotel.
Libby, Vinny, and the neices headed back for the hotel in their rental car, not without some chaos from the girls. Caitlin, who is 11, was wandering around saying things like “It’s too dangerous, we’re gonna die!” I think mostly just to twit her sister. Lucy, who is 8, was protesting that driving in a thunderstorm was too dangerous in a mostly serious fashion.
Enter a brief interlude for Auntie Margaret to explain about electrical conductivity and how the tires on the car would keep them safe, but since Lucy is fairly shy around me and tends to take most everything I say with a heavy dose of suspicion, I don’t think that helped.
Andrew, Sara, Danny, Joan, Tony and I were headed for the same hotel in Uncle Jeff’s mini-van. A vehicle with which Andrew is not particularly familiar.
It hadn’t started to rain when Libby ‘dem left, by the time we were leaving it had started to rain in a serious fashion. Oh, and had I mentioned the thunderstorms? Yeah, for those who haven’t experienced an east coast thunderstorm, it’s an experience. And not one that is best introduced while driving an unfamiliar vehicle on poorly lit roads in a direction of which you are not entirely certain.
Now for the record we did not get lost. We did miss one turn but that was easily remedied. I do not, however, think that taking that drive was very good for Andrew’s blood pressure. And really, thunderstorms are best enjoyed when you don’t have to worry about where you’re going and whether or not you’re going to drive off the road into some flooded cow pasture, so the storms were a lot more entertaining once we got back to the hotel. Andrew and I shut the lights off in our 4th floor room and just sat for about a hour watching the storms blow through. It was quite impressive. I saw one lightning bolt flash close to the ground then a bright green flash and the lights in the parking lot went out just as the thunder was cracking. There goes one electrical transformer. The power at the hotel flickered, but never actually went out and it was raining something impressive.
Thursday morning the weather was something awful. The rain overnight had cleared the air a little bit, but the weather reports were still predicting temperatures in the 90’s with 80-90% humidity.
We had planned to take a trip down to Cape May which is apparently somewhere along the New Jersey coast, but that trip was something that Meg and Rad had really wanted to do. They were supposed to pull in to Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, but their flight from Albuquerque the day before had been cancelled so they had to take a roundabout flight from Albuquerque to Houston to Baltimore Wednesday night and then were scheduled for a very early morning hop from Baltimore to Philadelphia Thursday morning. They finally pulled in about 0930 Thursday both looking like they’d been run over by something heavy, at which point a 2 hour drive to a Victorian village in New Jersey became about the least desirable thing they could think of. Besides the weather sucked for wandering around.
So we split up. One group went with Rad in their rented van to the Brandywine River Museum (an American art museum) and a winery close by. The rest of us went with Aunt Joan in their van to Winterthur which is one of the (many) DuPont (DuPont chemical) family estates that is currently a museum of Americana with extensive gardens.
Since most of what I was interested in at Winterthur was outdoors and the weather was absolutely oppressive, we compromised and took the garden tram tour down to the main house where the museum is and then gratefully worked our way into the museum which was air conditioned.
The gardens were lovely and I want to go back sometime when I can explore, but yesterday was absolutely not it. Yesterday was huddling inside looking at some really remarkable collections of antiques and drinking lots and lots and lots of water. At some point I’ll see if Andrew can post the photos for me because especially the photos of the soup toureen collection have to be publicized. Technically the soup toureens are part of the Campbell’s Soup collection (no kidding), but since the museum at the Campbell’s plant recently closed the toureens have been donated to the Winterthur museum. Most of the toureens are something that I would not be comfortable drinking soup from. My mother with her passion for having a cake plate in the shape of Baba Yaga’s hut, will love these toureen photos.
Andrew actually didn’t go to either museum, having neither any interest in colonial Americana nor in the paintings of the Wyeth family which are displayed at Brandywine. He stayed at Jeff and Joan’s for a quiet afternoon of futzing with the computer. I’ll leave describing the rest of Andrew’s Thursday to him.
So home after the museum for hamburgers etc. Sitting out on the porch after dinner and the frogs in the greenbelt behind the house are singing. The frog that has taken up residence in Aunt Joan’s porch planters was chiming in and all of a sudden things got real quiet. Then the breeze picked up again and the clouds started rolling in and Sara said “I think I just saw some lightning!” Which was the signal for all of us to pack up and hit the road before the storm hit again, but it didn’t work that way.
What yesterday’s storm lacked in thunder and lightning it made up in rain. We’re used to driving in the rain, but there is NOTHING like this at home. Zowie.
We had reservations for fourteen for lunch at Morimoto this afternoon. Due to a sad confluence with Caitlin’s knee, the pool deck at the hotel, and an ugly Thursday for Libby, Vinny, and Caitlin at the hospital (and an ugly Thursday for good tempered David who spent several hours at the hotel watching Cartoon Network with Lucy while Caitlin had her luxated patella reset) our fourteen was scratched to twelve since Caitlin wasn’t interested in going to the restaurant with her leg in a splint and Tony volunteered to stay at Jeff and Joan’s with Caitlin, Lucy, Katie (Jeff and Joan’s granddaughter), taking care of the girls with Jeff and Joan.
We had good directions, good maps and two vans. No one got lost, the traffic wasn’t as horrid as we expected, we managed to find parking RIGHT next to the restaurant, and we actually got there early.
After a painfully prolonged episode of being the typical tacky tourists taking photos outside the Morimoto sign (“Okay, now just the girls…..Okay, now the boys…..now the couples….”) we wandered in to the restaurant to find that they weren’t quite open yet. Because we were a large group and obnoxious forbye they asked us if we would like to wait in the lounge util they were ready for us. Up the stairs into a teeny, bamboo lined lounge where we could at least be loud in semi-privacy.
Allow me to emphasize that I love this side of my family dearly, but I am REALLY glad that Morimoto has a private banquet room on the lower level (I told everyone that they were preparing a “special” room for us in the basement). Fourteen Lenzer and Lenzer affiliates would have thoroughly overwhelmed the rest of the restaurant. As it was, we had a lovely time and pretty much the only time that the room was quiet was when we were all stuffing our faces.
The restrooms. Kind of hard to tell where to pee and where to wash, at first glimpse.
The art-Deco hand dryer in the restrooms.
Andrew got the Omakase again. You tell them an amount that you’re willing to spend and they’ll feed you as much food as that will purchase, the exact nature thereof to be determined by the chef. Since a lot of it would involve fish and/or sashimi I wasn’t willing to be that adventurous so I had a lovely meal of (no kidding) Morimoto ramen and Kobe beef carpaccio. I also cabbaged shamelessly from the enormous calamari salad that Sara, who was seated next to me, was offering around (the fried calamari were TENDER).
Andrew also insisted that I try some of the more exotic bits of what he was being served which allowed me to discover that I enjoy seared fatty tuna tartare, I don’t love Morimoto’s version of steamed whitefish, and I still love lamb but I don’t love sunchoke puree. I not only ate raw beef, okay technically the Kobe was ‘cooked’ in the acid of the vinegar dressing, but I ate raw fish as well. A little more of this and I’ll have all of my food taboos overrun (no one tell Andrew, I’ve not spent all this time convincing him that I don’t eat fish only to have him continue to offer me fish).
I also had a lot of fun watching everyone try to use their chopsticks with their non-dominant hand. I told Meg about the assignment I got for my surgical prep course in 1991 where we had to learn to use chopsticks with our non-dominant hands. I also told her that I completely skipped out on the part of the assignment where we were supposed to eat our Christmas dinner that year with chopsticks in our non-dominant hand. In my defense, Christmas 1991 we were in Chama and I was meeting most of the siblings for the first time as well as spending my first long period of time with Joan and Tony. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to attempt prime rib with chopsticks and my left hand. Sixteen years later with most of a Morimoto Hazelnut Ale inside me and I still managed to put on a good show with the beef carpaccio (I did not, however, attempt the ramen with my left hand).
Oh, and the ramen…… Ye gods! How many gallons, buckets, hogsheads of commercial ramen did I slurp down as an undergraduate and a broke vet student?! This wasn’t even on the same PLANET as that salty, styrofoam noodled travesty. I’m telling you, if you’re ever even anywhere CLOSE to this coast, you have GOT to get out to Philladelphia and eat at Morimoto (here Margaret collapses in a puddle of gastronomic ecstacy).
So Andrew promised to post the photos that go with this gastronomic travelogue I’ll have to go and find him before this can be posted [Done. –Andrew]. At some point I’ll have to tell everyone about Saturday, antique-ing, and going to Delaware for lunch.