n evening of unrestrained awesomeness. I went out tonight with Nick, who once upon a time was a high school student of mine and who now is this great guy finishing up his Master's in writing at the University of New Orleans while completing his first novel. The evening began around six with a bottle of 2005 Ciavolich Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Ancilla, a Montepulciano I'd never heard of, in the backyard seating area of Bacchanal Fine Wines and Spirits
, next to the Mississippi, down in a part of town called Bywater. In time, once this outdoor grill was fired up, this pleasant-enough red was joined by not one but two
entrees each of Skirt Steak Lettuce Wraps (with shaved Daikon and carrots in a sweet chili sauce). The second round of these sweet and meaty wraps knocked us from our intended dessert of local figs, and we continued to talk non-stop as waves of energetic electric jazz guitar swept over us from the two guitarists (The Gypsy Swing Club) who got going after an hour or so.
Then Nick took me to a local's bar called Pal's
near the St. John Bayou that he'll frequent, where we had a few more drinks and continued our conversation -- ranging from existentialism and faith to novel-writing and my dissertation to teaching and questionable aspects of Notre Dame we both thought worthy of exploration by the administration, while still affirming what we thought great about the school. The big surprise of the night for me was to discover that, as part of working on a (sadly, aborted) publishing project that a small press had intended to bring out, Nick had read all the "Letters To A Lonely God" written by my old friend, the late Fr. Robert Griffin. That I knew Griff was just as exciting for Nick to find out, and we ran in that direction for some time, calling it a night around Midnight when my voice started to blow out as I yelled over the now-substantial crowd, which had apparently followed us there from Bacchanal. But the real highlight was finding a new friend in an old acquaintance, and so we made general plans to hang once he's back from his next two weeks' travel and I'm back from the Ozarks. Good times.