Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve Service

This week, we attended two Christmas Eve worship services -- the first being a Christmas pageant with live animals.

The second being the midnight candlelight service, though this time, with no appearance by the barnyard animals. It was a serene affair bathed by the royal purple light on the center cross and by candlelight lining the sanctuary.

Some parts of this midnight service were the same as the earlier "Christmas Story Pageant", but this was a much more intimate service which gave a feel of a small group experience with God. There were far fewer people in attendance and it was without the sets and players. If the earlier pageant was a TV show, then this service was an old time radio play. When the soloists sang, especially the tenor Matthew Riser's rendition of "Oh Holy Night", the sanctuary was silent save his soaring voice. Starla and I joked afterwards that we can be his groupies and send him fan mail. Even now, several days later, I can still hear his song in my head.

It's not that one service was better than another, but they were definitely different experiences. The pageant had a joyful, festive atmosphere, accented by the procession of the animals, which I think was the part of the service that everyone was looking forward to. The play also brought new nuances to the Christmas story, and along with it, new understandings of what those people might have experienced during the first Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little restaurant review

Last month, while walking along Coventry, we saw that a new restaurant had opened near bd's Mongolian Barbeque called Bodega. Peaking through the window, as passersby often do, it looked like a charming place - its decor reminiscent of some of the restaurants at which we recently dined in San Francisco.

We decided to go there for dinner one Friday evening in mid-November. The place was packed, and the round tables shown in the website photos were replaced by small rectangular tables to accommodate couples. There was a small jazz band playing near the entrance.

The seating was somewhat cramped, probably due to a larger number of diners than normal - Friday night at a newly opened restaurant in a popular district. That meant more people talking in closer quarters, and plus the rather loud music by the jazz band, made it very difficult to talk to each other despite sitting across a small table. The diners were mostly young couples and groups of young professionals, which is pretty expected given the location on Coventry. I guess that includes us as well.

Bodega is a tapas restaurant, which are small Spanish-style dishes. It's like having a variety of appetizers. The menu was short, and includes mostly seafood items. I guess we should have checked out the menu online before we went. The non-seafood items mostly included lots of cheese or mushrooms. One appetizer we asked for, braised short ribs, was not available. On the day we went, the catch of the day was scallops, which to us is not fish, so we skipped it. Another entree was a small steak, but was also not available. We ended up ordering three tapas, and they tasted pretty good, but we probably needed at least another three to make a meal. Bodega also has a decent wine selection, though they specialize in martinis and that list dominated the wine menu.

The service was average. Servers are all friendly, but the food came slowly - perhaps they were understaffed for the crowd. Our server was apologetic given the limited choices to us and our apparent dismay, and timidly stated that she hope we'd go back when she handed us the check.

We left Bodega and went to Aladdin's, probably our favorite restaurant, for a better dinner.