Saturday, February 19, 2011

Valentine's at the Eastman House

(more photos)

Instead of going out for dinner this Valentine’s Day, we decided to try the George Eastman House’s annual Valentine’s Day Brunch & Film on Sunday the 13th. I had never heard of this event before finding out about it in January in an email from the museum. This year’s movie was “To Have and Have Not" (1944), with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (who fell in love during its filming), and  neither of us had seen that either. We didn’t make a decision right away, and we called to make reservations just in time--we got the very last two tickets ($35 each for the brunch and film).

When we arrived, we saw tables and chairs set up along the entire long hallway (the Potter Peristyle) that starts at the back entrance to the museum. Before we sat down, we had to check out the table of chocolate pizzas that the Eastman House was selling as a fundraiser. The heart-shaped chocolate slabs were covered with peanuts, almonds, cranberries, and raisins, and sold in small pizza boxes. (I admit to later using a knife to chisel out the cranberries and raisins from my pieces.) We were told that one of the boxes held a gold necklace worth $1,000 (donated by a jewelry store). Given my abysmal record with contests and prizes, I was pretty sure I was not going to win this, but Clem bought me a pizza as a Valentine’s gift anyway. (They had me at “chocolate.” … And “pizza.” And “necklace.”)

Probably because we reserved seats so late (oops), our seats were at the very last table in the back. (Fortunately, that meant that we were the first to be called for the buffet line.) By the way, if you’re looking for a romantic Valentine's meal, the Eastman House brunch probably isn’t for you--you’ll be sharing a table with several other people. Our tablemates included Karen, a Dryden Theatre docent, who dressed for the occasion in a ’40s-style outfit.

The buffet offered plenty of sweet and savory items, including fruit, fruit breads, home fries, bacon, sausage, omelets (cheese and spinach/feta), cranberry-focaccia French toast, ham, and turkey. I would have loved to see some pancakes or waffles, but I suppose those may not hold up too well when kept warm in a buffet. Each place setting had a glass of orange juice already poured, and servers offered coffee and tea.

Not too long after we finished, we left to grab front-row balcony seats at the Dryden to watch “To Have and Have Not.” Before the movie started, everyone who had bought a chocolate pizza was asked to open them at the same time. I was not surprised not to find a necklace in my pizza box! Oh, well. Karen, the docent, gave a really interesting introduction to the film, which I had known nothing about. I enjoyed the movie, although I did giggle at Bacall’s odd singing voice and let out a (quiet) laugh each time someone addressed Bogart’s character as “Captain Morgan.” Plus, Captain Renard = the French Comic Book Guy. Although our attendance at the brunch gave us free admission to the museum, we had to leave after the movie to pick up our son. We’ll have to save “Between the States” for another day.

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