Wednesday, February 24

Rosemont Inn

Hotels are nice; they come in handy when traveling. Too much traveling without a little shut-eye causes undesired results; a detail I found out the hard way. Places to spend the overnight hours come in all shapes, sizes and levels of comfort.
While planning a visit to Vevay, Indiana, recently, I was invited to stay at a local bed and breakfast. Never one to turn down an open invitation to try out something new, I accepted…I’m like that. First, though, I decided to determine the difference between a regular, everyday lodging and a B&B.
According to my research, a bed and breakfast separates itself from hotels, motels and hostels by providing breakfast after the night’s lodging. Hmmm, I have stayed in numerous fine hotels, many of which also served food in the morning, so that couldn’t be the only difference.
I continued researching.
Aaah, B&B establishments are traditionally a private home renovated into a place for travelers to sleep. The owners may live on or off-site and may rent out all the bedrooms, or as few as one, in the home. Using a residence, whether historic or modern, gives the weary vacationer a sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar location.
Okay, that explanation works for me.
Driving up the curved drive led me to understand the welcoming nature of the surroundings fairly quickly. The shrub-lined driveway slipped through the grounds like an extension of the home itself.
Lounging gracefully alongside the Ohio River, Rosemont Inn is as historic and beautiful as a Victorian lady from the year 1881. Standing solidly, unwilling to relinquish herself to her true age, the lady welcomes all who care to cross her doorstep. She beckons to you; sit upon my porch, sip a glass of cool refreshment, become one with your surroundings and leave your fingerprint upon me as I am leaving my mark on you. Our souls will, forever, be intertwined, as a family member or friend who always waits with open arms.
Never one to stand around, translation...I’m always getting into things; I decided to check out the exterior. A chance to look behind the curtains, so to speak, before the owner notices me. Within mere feet of the 10 foot, stained glass front door, I turned instead toward the panoramic view of the river. I found a hot tub, fire pit and gazebo enticing me to forget my luggage in the trunk, to meander a little, and then reason set in.
I am a travel writer; I had a job to do. Determinedly, I turned my back on the shimmering water and entered the red brick mansion.
Howard Awand, one half of the couple who own this particular Hoosier
B&B, welcomed me rather warmly. Perhaps he had forgotten I was here to review, translation critique, his establishment? No, he simply was that relaxed. When one is in euphoria, they do not think twice about anyone who may, or may not, understand it. I followed Howard as he guided me through the aged house, giving an informative lesson in the history of the town of Vevay, as well as the Victorian home.
I found my bags had been placed in the James K. Polk bedroom which overlooks the picturesque river. With a private bath, robe, slippers and working fireplace, I was beginning to catch a glimmer of why people would find a bed and breakfast more enticing than, say, a beside-the-interstate lodging choice.
Aaaah, but what about the food, I wondered? Downy-soft beds are marvelous, antiques surrounding me are enchanting, and a fireplace is absolutely charming, but staving off hunger pains is important, also. Breakfast was assured, but what about dinner? Not all do, but this B&B offers dinner as an option.
Both proprietor and chef, Awand waved a magic wand and produced a gourmet feast I did not expect at a small-town lodging. After dining on filet mignon medallions of beef with garlic red wine reduction, we sat beside the parlor’s fireplace and chatted into the evening. Personable, and certain of all things, the quiet man discussed life. When you get to a certain age, he explained, you realize that life is every moment. The things you thought were important become insignificant. Being with someone who loves you is what truly matters.
So where does a vacation-destination proprietor go on vacation? Well, in his case, Awand goes to his other home, The Inn at Seven Springs in Stowe, Vermont. When he and his charming wife Linda are not in Vevay, one or both can be found tending to the needs of guests in their mountain-view resort. Hmmm, river view in Indiana; mountain view in Vermont; I’m sensing a pattern.
The sweeping staircase, the swaying of the front- porch swing and the mellow attitude of the southern Indiana establishment created a sense of calm within me. I packed my car’s trunk the next morning, after feasting on maple sausage and cooked-to-order eggs.
Then I exhaled, certain that it was just a fleeting mirage which would slip away as I slipped out of town.
Seemingly a million moons later, I secretly relive the contentment felt at the bosom of the Victorian lady. I jealously guard the memories from my very first B&B visit.
Now I can say with certainty, I understand the attraction.

That whole B&B thing...I Get It.
And now, I am ready to start traveling the B&B trail, meeting each one and learning its character and cherishing the memories I will gather from my visits.
If you have a unique place or event you would like reviewed, e-mail elizabeth @gottago.us. Me, I’ll be right here, thinking about the wine cellar awaiting me in Vermont; now where’s my GPS?
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, theater critic, and travel writer. You can now follow her on facebook or Twitter and catch her as Indy's Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show, giving her quick Gotta Go list of things to do in the Indy area, including restaurants, festivals, events, theater and films.
*Photos by Izzy Evans
This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, February 17

Beef and Boards-Footloose

This weekend saw the opening of Footloose at Beef and Boards, 9301 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis, to a sold out theater (always a good sign).

Based on the true story of small-town teens defying the authority figures in order to legalize…dancing. If you missed the 1984 movie version, this tale moves us, with main character Ren McCormack (Dominic Sheahan-Stahl) from Chicago to the teensy town of Bomont.

Outcast by his modern outlook, McCormack becomes the leader of the battle, finding support and a best friend in town simpleton Willard (Happy Mahaney).

When one portrays a slow-witted person as seamlessly as Mahaney, it is far too easy to overlook the talent required in doing so. Making sure he isn’t underestimated in his debut appearance, Mahaney rocks the house singing lead in one of the show’s top two songs, Mama says (You Can’t Back Down), showing his vocal talents are as genuine as his comedic abilities.

Ariel (Erin P. West) is the misunderstood minister’s daughter, creating havoc while trying to reach her emotionally-closed father, Reverend Shaw Moore (Eddie Curry).

Curry (Shipwrecked, The Producers) reinforces what a multi-talented actor he is with his reprisal of the character he played in 2002. Bringing that point home with the other top song, I Confess, Curry provides the most powerful performance of the cast, thundering away from the pulpit with all the fire and brimstone a pompous, self-righteous, small town minister can muster.

Janet Essenpries, also debuting with this show, was 100 percent believable as the strong and patient Reverend’s wife Vi Moore.
Other B&B newcomers to enjoy are Maxim Gukhman (Chuck) and Darrin Murrell (Principal Clark).

Providing all the right moves for the cast, choreographing the musical, is Anderson University’s dance faculty member Doug King. When not at Beef and Boards, King teaches AU students tap, jazz, musical theater and improve composition.

Bottom Line: The high energy of the cast, music and dancing make Footloose a delightful way to learn a lesson in life’s greatest joys.

If you have a performance or event you would like reviewed, send an e-mail to elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I’ll be right here Holding out for a Hero.
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This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Cirque du Soleil: Alegria

Cirque du Soleil: Alegria, joy or jubilation in Spanish, back-flipped its way into Indy this past weekend. Handing, somewhat reluctantly, the power to the next generation, the old ones deal with their aging in many ways.

This show explores the exuberance of youth and the descent of the elders: people, government, authority; however you interpret it.

Brooke Webb, creative artistic director, described to me her favorite aspects of Alegria. “Americans have a much bigger appreciation of the theatrical aspect,” Webb explained. “Also, when an artist overcomes a challenge, and they get it, that’s the most exhilarating part for me.”

The story, as old as time itself, is told via a parade of contortionists, trapeze artists, flame-twirlers, clowns and singers encapsulated artistically in a kaleidoscope of magenta, lavender, pearl white and aquamarine.

The White Singer, elegant and majestic, travels with us throughout our journey, narrating with resonance, her haunting voice lingering in the air.

With all that is light, there must be dark.

The first act presented the power to make this my all-time favorite Cirque; the powerful ending before intermission with the grace and athleticism all one imagine.

The second act is toned down, as if the changing of the guards had occurred backstage as well. Almost a balance of energy, high to low, happened as quickly as one of the flips in air which had left the audience in awe during the first act. Not bad, simply…a change, in energy, style and power.

Bottom Line: The dazzling display of graceful power in the first act alone makes Alegria a must-see for Cirque groupies and novices alike.

If you have a performance or event you would like reviewed, e-mail elizabeth@gottago.us.
Me, I’ll be right here, twirling my flaming batons.
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This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Indy Wine Trail: Chocolate Lover's Weekend February 2010

I hit the Indy Wine Trail this weekend. The event featured chocolate in numerous forms, all of them great.
Stopping in first at downtown’s Easley Winery, I scooped up a bottle of Posey Red to take home and some of their delicious chocolate mousse, which I sat down and enjoyed there. Never put off the good stuff, I always say, and Easley's has that charming atmosphere and urban architecture which makes sitting awhile tempting.
Mallow Run, Bargersville, won the Gotta Go Best in Show by presenting a dessert buffet fit for royalty, including gigantic strawberries dipped and designed with chocolate and creamy-rich berry tarts.
Buck Creek Winery, Acton, was serving strawberry wine-aritas, a frozen delight, along with a fountain of white chocolate paired with dippable goodies.
Ferrins Winery, Carmel, served decadent brownies, topped with freshly whipped cream and strawberries.
For more details on upcoming 2010 events and a trail map, visit IndyWineTrail.com
Image of Mallow Run Winery: Izzy Evans
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.
This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, February 10

Roses for Valentine's Day: what do the colors mean anyway?

Valentine’s Day is upon us once again…it seems to happen every year about this time, doesn’t it? Well, there are traditions which must be upheld and who am I to stand in the way of tradition?

Flowers. Brownie points are high for the fragrant blossoms. Send the bouquet to her workplace and score mega-brownie points; especially since it lands on Sunday this year. Not only does she appreciate the flowers, she gets the ultimate fun­­: bragging rights.

That’s right guys; ladies love to have the Greatest Guy trophy, which gets passed around amongst her female coworkers, friends and family on a constant rotation. If she gets to take home the invisible award, you get all the glory because she is feeling ultimately adored by you and knows that everyone she knows is aware of the adoration…not bad for a few long stems wrapped up with baby’s breath.

The number one flower sent? The rose. In fact, according to the American Society of American Florists, 187 million roses are estimated to be sold this year alone. My research found that color is important in conveying the correct meaning through floriography, the art of speaking with flowers.

Choose carefully when deciding which color to send or hand-deliver. Sending the wrong hue can send the wrong signal. If you are friends with a lady and would like to keep the relationship at a platonic level, send yellow. It’s the sign of friendship whether a pale or deep gold. Send this to a woman you would like to get serious about and you may find yourself moved to the buddy category.

White petals signify everlasting and undying love. These may be sent to a long-term love, past the youthful stage of infatuation. White petals are much more pure than its passionate counterpart, the red rose. The intensity of the fiery red color should parallel the intensity of the sender’s passion for the receiver; the darker the shade, the stronger the passion.

Coral and orange blooms show desire is definite, with a touch of fascination or bewitched emotions intertwined. Peach shows appreciation, not passion; reserve this color for family members or coworkers, not your significant other.

Struck by a lightning bolt at first meeting? Send lavender or purple petals. This color, whether softly-hued or a deep rich purple, represents enchantment, or love, at first sight.

Finally, take into account likes and dislikes of the receiver when sending flowers. If you know her heart’s desire is a color that signifies other than passionate emotions, remember that making her feel happy and romanced is what it is all about.

Looking Ahead: I will run off and join the circus, or pretend to, by attending Cirque du Soleil Alegria on Friday, February 12. Saturday, February 13 will find me looping Indy on the Indy Wine Trail, featuring chocolate at each winery. Two of my favorite food groups and a designated driver? I’m in heaven. Saturday evening will find me at Beef and Boards for its opening of Footloose, where the 80’s are alive and happening. Now where did I put my leg warmers and scrunchies?

If you have a performance or event you would like reviewed, e-mail elizabethjmusgrave@gottago.us. Me, I’ll be right here, trying to find the meaning behind black roses; it can’t be good, can it?
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This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.

Wednesday, February 3

Devour Downtown Winterfest 2010

Devour Downtown 2010 continues through February 6 at 43 restaurants in, where else, downtown Indy. For those not in the know, DD gives special prices for lunch and dinner menus. It’s a “Hi, how are you; try us out” system which works well for all involved. You get a great deal on a place you might not try otherwise and they get a chance to show what makes them special.

One of the 43 eateries, The Severin Bar & Grille, inside the Omni Severin Hotel, 40 Jackson Street, embraces the slow down (because who has time to completely stop these days?) and smell the roses attitude, offering an upscale eatery with a twist. That twist comes in the form of Joseph “Twist” Adamo, the executive chef who has arrived in Indy and created the custom menu with his own brand of cuisine.

Sharing his years of experience in the Palm Beach scene and adding a dash of London life, the six-foot-plus chef presented me with their entire Devour Downtown menu for a review.

So, what do you get for $30? Three courses with a choice between two items in each category of appetizer, entrée and dessert. The first course offers Hudson Valley Duck Empanada and Ahi Tuna Nicoise. The empanada, stuffed with wild mushrooms, sits atop spicy Sofrito sauce, and the Nicoise salad is laid out picture-perfect in a deconstructed fashion.

The second course came in the form of Grilled Beef Churrasco, tender slices of steak accompanied by braised Swiss chard and Pico de Gallo. This dish could easily be considered the Severin Signature dish, worthy of the drive from the ‘burbs. The alternate choice, My Seafood Paella, was served in a quantity for two. Mussels, Clams, Mahi Mahi, shrimp, haystack calamari, chorizo and saffron arborio rice combined in a delicate balance of juicy, seafood heaven. Can one spot have two signature entrée dishes? It may be possible with the Severin.

My favorite course, desserts, came as a difficult choice. Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake is served from-the-oven warm with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce because as Chef Adamo puts it, “I’m just a warm chocolate cake kind of guy.”

To be fair he adds a nice little twist to the Three Layer Carrot Cake by encasing it with white chocolate and surrounding it with assorted berry jus. A signature dessert which should easily please every chocolate lover and every carrot cake lover, which covers, um, pretty much everyone. Maybe it should be called the Chocolate Carrot Twist Cake.

In an era where Chefs are culinary rock stars, Adamo is a combination of Eddie Van Halen cuddlyness and Steve Perry coolness, on a much taller frame.

Bottom Line: The Severin offers the perfect spot for an after-work gathering place for martinis, smooth jazz and unique food. And, of course, the ultimate cool Chef "Twist" Adamo; what more could you want?
For a complete list of participating restaurants and menus, visit www.devourdowntown.org. For information on Severin, visit www.omnihotels.com.

If you have a restaurant, performance or unique event you would like reviewed, e-mail Elizabeth@gottago.us. Me, I will be right here, Faithfully.