||[Jan. 6th, 2011|11:54 pm]
Kelly J. Cooper
Tonight, I braved the Commuter Rail to meet up with muffyjo in Woburn, near where she's currently working, so we could zoom over to Salem & visit the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) exhibit of The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City, which is closing on SUNDAY, 1/8/2011, so get yer ass over there if you want to see it before it's gone!
Note that through Saturday, January 8, the museum will remain open to visitors until 8 pm AND there's a special $10 admission after 5pm.
We arrived at 6:50pm & were done by 7:50-ish, even going at a leisurely pace and watching the two videos in their entirety.
I learned a metric buttload about Chinese history. While America was fighting the Revolutionary war, the Qianlong Emperor was building a beautiful and elaborate garden, based on Confucian and Buddhist principles, within the Forbidden City in Beijing. A Chinese garden consists of a grand harmonizing of rocks, trees, buildings, and plantings such that each new view, as you move through it, inspires thought or contemplation.
My favorite quote: "The Qianlong Emperor was an avid aficionado of rocks."
It's not a very elaborate exhibit, but it's quite lovely, chock full of small details. Thrones, chairs, paintings on silk, gorgeous jade inlaid screens, amazing carved frames, etc. I picked up the catalog afterward.
Once we were kicked out of the building, we grabbed food at the Gulu Gulu Cafe, a funky little restaurant that gilana & Jo found and we listened to Animatronique featuring Chuck Anastasiou who was sort of... um... guitar trance. I had a selection from "The Cheese and Meat Coalition" consisting of classic goat cheese, Red Dragon Ale & Mustard Cheddar (very accurate description from the menu on their the website: "Smooth, firm tasty cheddar cheese is made with Welsh brown ale and mustard seeds. Buttery and spicy with plenty of bite."), and prosciutto. It came with a few salad greens and a dozen small slices of hearty white bread, toasted. Interesting idea, tho I'm not sure about the execution. Jo had a crepe cordon bleu, but they were out of bleu so she had brie instead. Salty but delicious.
We finished with a banana & Nutella crepe (my idea, indeed). I think they mixed some fudge sauce into the Nutella because WOW! So mind-bogglingly delicious.
This was a surgical strike-type visit, so I apologize if anyone's offended at not being invited or visited.