Oct 29, 2012

salem



though the streets were overrun with orange, kettle korn, people in bad costumes, and fake cobwebs, jaho on the waterfront was empty and quiet. a kopi-c, a syphon, and a french press, and an hour and a half passed effortlessly. a&j king, earnestly artisanal bakers, was filled with the scent of butter and frangipane—but the locust-like swarms of halloween revelers had cleaned them out of all but a few classically formed brioches and cinnamon caramel cookies.

moshe safdie's addition to the peabody essex museum graciously balances light, air, mass, and gravity. it feels much like a small-scale version of the foster and partners great court in the british museum. there are many other wonderful things about the PEM. the main atrium contains a neat anish kapoor mirror sculpture (halo), though it would have been even more awesome suspended from the ceiling. the curatorial staff have taken the unusual approach of displaying artifacts from the historical collections with sly, smart interjections of modern and contemporary art and craft objects. why don't more museums with holdings in a range of periods do this? (louisiana in denmark is another noteworthy exception.) some pieces are tastily surprising: in the gallery of native american art, there is an avant-garde cape that appears to be fabricated from long strips of a translucent and silvery polymer, like something issey miyake would do. in fact, it is an unangax cape from the aleutian islands of alaska, made of pieces of sea lion intestine and dating to the early 19th century.

we took a short break at scratch kitchen, where the staff seemed overjoyed to be working on a drizzly and overrun sunday. 2pm is not too early for a beer when boulevard's tank 7 is on draft, and the pulled pork sandwich came on a firmly griddled bulkie roll which had not been made impenetrable by being toasted on the outside. i ate my half and then, when no one else was looking, the half that was not mine. the mac and cheese with bacon was made with orrechiette and the bacon, as advertised, made it "unspeakably delicious." the cauliflower soup had been passed through a tamis and was served with a drizzle of truffle oil—in this case a completely appropriate deployment. the owner once worked at harvest. a fine lunch in an unexpected spot.

back to the PEM, where the japanese galleries are particularly overstuffed with great stuff, including a monumental—yet modular—circular bench made of red oak with black lacquered hemp sections masquerading as gallery furniture. but where is the rest of e.s. morse's collection of japanese quotidian objects? let's hope that their massive planned expansion will return that collection to permanent display.

we had to leave when the museum closed for the day, but i did not want to.

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