Beautiful: A Friday off, just to enjoy one's own town. Lunch at Osteria and an afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Beautiful: The sun streaming in through the windows at Osteria. And the elevation of the least interesting sounding dish on a menu, in this case "marinated vegetable antipasto," to an art form, a symphony of complementary and contrasting flavors. The porchetta tonnato was subtle in comparison yet equally lovely.
Beautiful ugly: I took it, so perhaps I'm biased, but I'm pretty happy with the composition in this photo of our lunch wine. On the down side, Tomasso Bussola's 2005 Valpolicella Classico did nothing to change my general displeasure with Valpo of late. Adequate as a pizza wine, I suppose, but otherwise flat, short and uninteresting, maybe even a tad heat-wacked.
Beautiful ugly: A joy to look at? Perhaps not, but then beauty, as the cliché goes, is in the eye of the beholder. The beauty couldn't be denied in the gullet, however. Osteria is well deserving of their rep for turning out some of the best pizza in town, from the simple perfection of the margherita to the robust, rustic decadence of the Lombarda (which is apparently their most popular pie).
Beautiful: A good restaurant that doesn't give up the ghost when it comes to dessert. Everything at Osteria is done in house, including their cannoli with torrone semifreddo and their "piccolo pasticceria," a delightful assortment of Italianate petit-fours. I'd happily take a box of that pistachio brittle to go.
Beautiful ugly: I'm still undecided on the "wine wall" at Osteria. It looks decent. The feel is rustic, in keeping with the spirit of the menu (rustic in content if not in price). And it complements the bar it abuts. However, the celebration of mostly high-end, luxury wines is a touch out of step with the relaxed intent of the restaurant. Perhaps it's just a visual manifestation of the casual vs. costly conundrum that Osteria presents. Don't let the prices scare you away from the experience.
Ugly: The current facade (this shot is of the rear entrance) of the PMA. I'm not sure the huge banner is any less of an eyesore than the scaffolding it's designed to hide. On the up-side, it does provide plenty of space for self-promotion.
Beautiful: Turn around, take a short walk down the hill and past the museum's construction zone. You'll find sure signs of the arrival of Spring.
Ugly: The crowds at the Kahlo exhibit (sorry, no photos allowed in the museum). Even with ticketed entrance, the attendees were packed in like sardines. All but a few of Kahlo's paintings are modest in scale. The photos, included in the exhibit to provide historical and biographical context to her works, even smaller. Patience is a must, and even then it was tough to get close enough for a good view of many of the pieces. It made me pine for the exhibition entitled "Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Twentieth-Century Mexican Art" held at New York's El Museu del Barrio in 2002. More paintings, less people.
Beautiful: The paintings themselves. In spite of the crowds, I found myself drawn into Kahlo's mixture of surrealism and naive realism. The autobiographical, symbolic and cultural elements of her major works are intensely compelling.
Beautiful ugly: The inspiration for this posting, Frida Kahlo's self-titled self-portrait, "Very Ugly." The eye of the beholder speaks, through her brush and through her works. There's undeniable beauty in Kahlo's face, in her spirit and in her art. And undeniable ugliness in the pain, misfortune and tempestuous relationships that followed her throughout her short life. Don't let the crowds keep you away from the experience.