‘…the mysterious butterflies of the soul…’

This past weekend included a number of remarkable moments for me — moments that revolved around a museum, three restaurants, four wines and a kitten.

As last week’s journey began, it found us in a familiar town — Northfield. Since two of our boys graduated from Carleton College, we are acquainted with the city and decided to have a bite to eat at The Tavern. Located in the historic Archer House, we’ve previously eaten there and have always had a good eating experience. Before the food arrived, we sipped from glasses that contained a red zinfandel and a pinot grigio. Sonoma, California’s Poizin Zinfandel is a sharp wine with lots of raisin-like flavors, but it still has the acidity needed to cleanse your mouth in anticipation of the next bite of food. The Italian Piccini Pinot Grigio is light bodied and leads with an apple/peach flavor. Usually a pinot grigio will have some lemon taste and this one waits until the finish to produce a nice refreshing lemony ending. Both wines were very good and enjoyable.

Last fall our son’s pet cat died and it was a sad time for all of us. Since her demise, our son would periodically let it be known that one day he would have another kitten and that “one day” was last weekend.

We visited a humane society adoption center and walked into a room full of possibilities — yellow, gray, black and multicolored possibilities. After a lengthy exploration, our attention focused on a three-and-a-half month old female kitten that seemed perfect. And, she became part of our family.

The kitten was named Phoebe and will be a wonderful companion for our son, and I’m thrilled for him and her. The two of them will draw great comfort from each other and will be good soul mates. That evening we celebrated our son’s birthday and kitten adoption by dining at Icehouse — an upscale Minneapolis restaurant. Because of its live blues-type music, it’s very relaxing and has an eye-popping menu buttressed by an excellent beverage list.

The restaurant’s wait staff is professional, knowledgeable, agreeable and they made our stay a five star occasion. The food was delicious but before ordering, I was handed the wine list and a certain white wine caught my eye. It’s not that easy to get a good Gruner Veltliner wine and there on the wine list, was a Mo-Velt Gruner Veltliner. This wine comes from the Burgenland area of Austria and seemed a perfect fit for our blues music filled evening. This isn’t an in-your-face type wine but rather it’s a very soft structured and simple wine. In this sense the word simple means anything but simple.

Although a gentle medium bodied wine, it owns a pleasing citrus acidity that pairs nicely with its rich and warm peach flavor. The nicely balanced wine contributed greatly to the perfect evening.

The next day’s brunch was reserved at Cafe Lurcat in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis and like the previous evening’s dining event, it was an amazing experience. Mimosas preceded everything and the orange juice and champagne drink was pleasant to sip during a meal. Cafe Lurcat is a fine dining experience and the restaurant was filled with people of all ages. It was fun to watch the Easter Bunny interact with the children and to watch the grumpiest dining guest smile on that beautiful morning. Did I mention they make a very tasty mimosa?

After the terrific brunch, we visited the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota and here is where the phrase “…the mysterious butterflies of the soul…” appeared. The museum’s main exhibit features the drawings of Santiago Ramon Y Cajal — the “father of modern neuroscience.” Combining his scientific research skills with his artistic skills, this 1906 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine hand sketched hundreds of renderings of individual brain cells and how they were all interconnected — something science verified 50 years after his death in 1934. The drawings were amazing!

In an attempt to verbalize his quest for understanding how the brain functioned, he wrote that like the person searching for colorful butterflies in nature, he was looking for the mysterious butterflies within the gray matter of the brain that would help us better understand the secrets of the mind. His phrase, “…the mysterious butterflies of the soul…” made me think of how we find those happy moments of life (those butterflies) in so many different places and things.

Sometimes we find those butterflies in a museum exhibit, sometimes in a fine dining experience, sometimes in a bottle of wine and sometimes in the cuddly embrace of a kitten.

Next week, how many are there?

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!