Art in the Time of Coronavirus

Art in the Time of Coronavirus:  one of Van Gogh's Sunflower series
Art in the Time of Coronavirus: one of Van Gogh’s Sunflower series, as seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Viewing art in the time of coronavirus has shifted from physical museums to virtual tours. While this happened, something else shifted underneath society. We have mutally discovered how the arts keep us sane and connected during lockdown. Whether an entire town singing from balconies or an individual dancing with himself in front of a mirror, we’ve discovered that creativity and expression help assauge aloneness. When people sing together in a Zoom mosaic of faces and voices, they strengthen connections despite physical distance.

All those who have said that studying the arts is useless should heed what’s happening. The arts sustain us. They allow us to soar beyond our small spaces and into the world. They reach across language barriers, oceans, and cultures to establish a human bond where perhaps none existed before. For that reason, I’ve chosen to focus this article on the visual arts currently locked away in collections but now available for all of us to visit, virtually.

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Curbside Pickup from White Orchids

Curbside Pickup from White Orchids, Center Valley, PA
Curbside Pickup from White Orchids, Center Valley, PA

Curbside pickup from White Orchids, one of our local Thai restaurants, brought the spicy flavors we love to our date night during life in the time of coronavirus. We’ve tried to spread our support of local businesses over several of our favorite restaurants. Although we hadn’t eaten at White Orchids in several months, the time seemed right to do curbside pickup. I pulled an actual white orchid off my planters’ rack, and my husband looked up music from Thailand on his phone. We were ready to satisfy our “spice teeth.”

(In case you haven’t been following my Life in the Time of Coronavirus series, check out my first installment to see how to make takeout into a special occasion.)

Curbside Pickup Restaurant: White Orchids

Location: The Promenade Shops in Center Valley, PA

Phone: 610-841-7499

Pickup Hours: Daily, 11:30 am-7:30 pm

Recommended music: Thai classical music from YouTube

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Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Curbside Pickup from Torre

Life in the Time of Coronavirus:  Curbside pickup at Torre
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Curbside pickup at Torre

Our recent curbside pickup from Torre, our local higher-end Mexican restaurant, served two purposes: supporting a small business and giving me a night off from cooking. It gave us a break from the now-normal routine of life in the time of coronavirus. As I wrote in an earlier blog, you can create a special date night out of curbside pickup. In this case, we chose another ambience. Different food, different mood.

If you don’t live near Center Valley, PA, find your own local restaurant to support. They will appreciate it.

Curbside Pickup Restaurant: Torre

Location: The Promenade Shops in Center Valley, PA

Phone: 610-841-9399

Pickup Hours: Wed. – Sat. 4:30-7:30 pm; Sun. 3:30-6:30 pm

Recommended music: Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra (Joaquin Rodrigo, composer)

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Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Traveling Your Backyard

Life in the Time of Coronavirus: A magnolia bloom starts to open
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: A magnolia bud starts to open

During life in the time of coronavirus, traveling your backyard can relieve stress while reminding you that you are part of the world. While we hunkered down inside, spring arrived. Birds belt out their mating songs, and long-dormant plants push through the leaf litter and mulch. Those of us fortunate enough to own our own property can spend hours outside without leaving its borders. After all, lots of spring work lies ahead. But even city dwellers can avail themselves of the outdoors. If you can’t walk outside, open the windows. Look and listen carefully. Mindfulness doesn’t apply only to eating and meditation.

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Flours in the Time of Coronavirus

Flour in the Time of Coronavirus:  Different specialty flours
Flour in the Time of Coronavirus: Different specialty flours

You’d think that I’d be in great shape when needing flours in the time of coronavirus lockdowns because I’m a pantry stocker. Not a prepper. Just someone who likes to have staples on hand in case the urge to bake hits me. Now, though, with store shelves bare and delivery options even scarcer, I’ve had to adjust. In particular, my flour supply has dwindled because of my bread making, and I can’t find any in stores or online to replace it. Many of us work out our stress and extra time in the kitchen, and nothing is more frustrating than not being able to secure ingredients.

I’m more fortunate than most. Not only did I have an extra bag of all-purpose flour on hand but also I had various other kinds in more limited quantities. I even have the ability to mill my own flour. (More on that at the end of this article.) Not all flours are equal, though. Some can be substituted for others in certain situations, while others cannot.

A little ingenuity can help you score a different kind of flour than you usually buy. If people don’t know how to use the other types, they will gravitate to the all-purpose and whole wheats flours. That means that alternatives sell out more slowly than the popular ones. Still, you need to know the properties of the flours left behind. I’ve compiled a list of types and their properties below.

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Life in the Time of Coronavirus

Life in the Time of Coronavirus:  Making curbside pick-up into a special evening
Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Making Curbside Pick-Up into a Special Dinner

Most of us are at home, adapting to life in the time of coronavirus, struggling with losing a job or being kept from loved ones or wanting to scream at the walls closing us in. World Oyster, usually devoted to travel and fine dining, will temporarily shift its focus to dealing with the isolation and to supporting the local community. Life in the time of coronavirus means that we all have to be creative.

Because several nearby restaurants offer curbside pick-up, my husband and I decided to support them while treating ourselves to a special evening. After all, we still have to tend to ourselves. We started with curbside pick-up from Cascade at Durham Springs and found ways to create an intimate, elegant dinner in our own home.

To set the stage for the evening, you will have to do some pre-planning. After you’ve decided which restaurant you’ll support, consider how to enhance your upcoming meal with ambience. Think dining, not eating. Take it as far as you’d like.

Curbside Pickup Restaurant: Cascade at Durham Springs

Location: 5065 Lehnenberg Rd. Kintnersville, PA

Phone: 484-907-2100

Pick-up hours: 4 pm-7 pm, Tuesday through Sunday

Wine recommendation: The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

Recommended music for pop music fans: It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense by Ingrid Michaelson

Recommended music for classical lovers: One of the late Mozart Piano Concertos.

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Review of the Sergeantsville Inn

Review of the Sergeantsville Inn:  Summer grilled watermelon and pineapple salad
World Oyster’s Review of the Sergeantsville Inn: Summer grilled watermelon and pineapple salad

After my fifth or sixth visit, I decided it was time for World Oyster’s review of the Sergeantsville Inn. The restaurant, located on the corner of a quaint New Jersey town, occupies an old stone building with sections built in the 1700s. In the winter, you can sit next to a blazing fire in one of the original fireplaces. The Colonial American structure combines upscale dining with a business casual atmosphere. If you want a more casual menu, you can opt to eat in the tavern. Even better for my extended family, the chef includes three vegetarian entrĂ©es, two of which can be made vegan.

Ambience: Cozy American Colonial

Dress: Business casual for the dining room; casual for the Tavern

Best entrées: Waygu steak, soy duckling, wild-caught salmon (menu changes)

Best Appetizers: Any salad, including specials

Vegetarian/vegan options? : Yes

The Sergeantsville Inn specializes in pasture-raised meat, wild-caught seafood, local produce, and other sustainable ingredients. Because of this emphasis, you can find some unusual meats such as wild boar, pheasant, buffalo, and venison. For the less adventurous, more common meats and fish round out the menu: short ribs, Icelandic cod, beef steak, veal chops, and shrimp.

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Brunch at The Marshal, Hell’s Kitchen, New York

Brunch at The Marshal: Interior
Brunch at The Marshal: Interior

My husband and I recently ate brunch at The Marshal in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York. One thing I can say for sure: The Marshal is fearless in the face of cholesterol. Most items come with cheese or bacon, and often both. The restaurant serves duck bacon, pork bacon, and sausage. For an extra charge, even the butter can come with bacon. As for cheeses, you can find dishes with Swiss, burrata, blue, mozzarella, cheddar, ricotta, and “farm’esan.” Because the chef embraces local products, many of the above come from New York state.

Ambience: Local casual

Alcoholic beverages: Yes

Best Non-Egg Dishes: biscuits, mac and cheese

Most popular based on other tables: Short rib hash with poached eggs; stuffed French toast; deviled eggs

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Best Things to Do on the Big Island (Hawaii)

Best Things to Do on the Big Island:  Sunset on the Kohala Coast
Best Things to Do on the Big Island: Sunset on the Kohala Coast

The best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii depend, in part, on where you stay and how much driving you’re willing to do. Yes, you can lie on the beach or by the pool all day and do absolutely nothing. Or you can do some low-key sightseeing or high-intensity outdoor activities. Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to do. Or to not do.

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Where to Eat in Venice

Where to Eat in Venice:  Sole with lemon and spinach at Local
Where to Eat in Venice: Sole with lemon and spinach at Local

When deciding where to eat in Venice, my husband and I first defaulted to the idea that we’ve never had a bad meal in Italy. Then, on our first day, we encountered a mediocre lunch at a pizzeria. Although we sat outside on a glorious day, the pizza might as well been made in the United States. We vowed to be more discriminating for the rest of our trip. As a result, we found some wonderful places to eat.

Best restaurant for foodies: Local

Where to eat traditional dishes: El Magazen

Favorite gelateria: Suso

Best casual pasta restaurant: 6342 Alla Corte

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