Sunday, January 30, 2011

An English girl, an American man (and an American woman, too)

On Friday, DB~ and I were down at the Convention Center for Piratefest 2011. It seemed like just yesterday that we were there for the semi-bust of the Home Remodeling Show, but it was actually 3 weeks ago. And like that last time, we decided to go out for drinks afterwards.

Originally, we both wanted to go to Seviche. But by the time we got down there around 9:30 p.m., the place was packed to the gills. We wanted a drink, but we were also hoping to get an appetizer or tapas at our destination, so we didn't feel like jamming into the crowded bar. DB~ was also put off by the fact that every other girl there or standing outside was wearing 7 inch heels and cocktail napkins masquerading as skirts.

Undaunted, we walked across the street to Seviche's sister restaurant, Sonoma Grille. We were able to find a good spot on the corner of the bar. DB~ ordered a sauvignon blanc and I had a 7 and 7. All was right in the world.

To my left was a middle-aged woman speaking with a British accent to the bartender. I enjoy eavesdropping on conversations, as I'm easily distracted. I observed that she was drinking a Gin and Tonic (and I guessed it wasn't her first of the evening). I forget exactly how it happened, but after the bartender left she made a comment out loud about getting a cognac, preferably a French one, to which I responded "If it's not French cognac, aren't you just wasting your time?"

Well, that was the polar bear heavy enough to break the ice and for the next hour, DB~ and I enjoyed chatting with our friend Anne from the west side of London. It turns out that Anne is a data management specialist for a major Pittsburgh-based company (I'll keep the name private) who comes over to Pittsburgh twice a year for 4 weeks at a clip. Anne was quite the foodie, so naturally that carried the conversation for most of the time. We gave her all sorts of recommendations for restaurants, both within the Golden Triangle and within a cab ride of the area, too.

DB~ asked all sorts of great questions about London, as we both have an interest in visiting there one day. We got the name for "the jazz club in London" known as Richard Scott's. Visiting the changing of the guard is a must, as well. We talked restaurants and how cosmopolitan London was in terms of food. We talked cooking with tagines (you may remember them from the Kous Kous Cafe review) and places that she has traveled as a consultant. We talked American football, English rugby, and Anne's love of Manchester United football.

Anne said that life on the road was wearing on her, especially as she was nearing retirement age. Anymore, all she wanted to do was be in her London home. Living out of hotels gets old after a while.

I don't have many regrets, OK maybe a few, but chief among them is that I never lived in a different city other than Pittsburgh. I went away for college, but that doesn't really count. I mean live and work in a new metro area. Figure out the shortcuts, the good restaurants, places to go, places to avoid, and get engrossed in all the problems and windfalls of that new place. Anne gave both DB~ and I some things to think about, as she was stunned that neither of us had lived in another city, but I also realized that I liked my life here. My job and my immediate family are Pittsburgh-based. My close friends all live here and, of course, DB~ is here and Pittsburgh-based, too.

But a tiny sliver of me was envious of Anne. She was able to travel and see the world, even if it had become somewhat of a chore to her. That's something I may not be able to do until I retire.

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