Eating in Indy

By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli

Recently, I spent an exploratory weekend in Indianapolis. By exploratory, I mean the weekend evolved into a food fest of restaurants, which we had not intended, but turned out to be gustatory, delicious fun!

We began Saturday by deciding to have a late lunch at Public Greens on the Monon Trail, in the now trendy Broad Ripple area. As it states on the website: Public Greens functions as an “Urban Kitchen, a farm to market urban cafeteria and microfarm.” I laud Public Greens for its inventive healthy food; its profits, vegetables, and herbs feed children through its Patachou Foundation. Check out Public Greens and the owner’s Patachou restaurants at

We love the ice cream at Brics, located steps away from Public Greens. The Brics Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station building used to be the train station in Indianapolis. It converted nicely into an ice creamery on the Monon Trail. I recommend the Yellow Cake Batter and the Pistachio!

Walking back to the car, we opted to enter Books and Brews, across the street from Public Greens. The concept was interesting with used bookstore for sale lining the walls. A portion of their sales goes to the Read Indy program. Lunch and dinner are served, as are small plates,

That night we felt a bit hungry, but we did not want a large meal. We opted for Panera. I had the Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken; my daughter had a bowl of Chicken Soup. We were both rather weary, so we ate our Panera take out at home so we could watch several episodes of Netflix’s The Ranch.

Sunday dawned sunny and relatively warm. After leisurely drinking mugs of matcha sencha tea and conversing, both of which we do frequently, we ventured out in quest of brunch. Wanting to try something distinctive, we threaded our way to Biscuits, a Mexican restaurant. The name fascinated me so much so that my daughter accused me of wanting to eat at Biscuits because of its name! She was right. My niece had recommended the eatery to my daughter; we figured it must be good. Its location was right off the Monon Trail, in a nondescript strip mall at 1036 Broad Ripple Avenue. Happily, Biscuits has not undergone gentrification like the rest of the area further up the road. Biscuits even lacks a website!

As we poured over the extensive menu, I asked our server why a Mexican restaurant is called Biscuits. She replied that the previous restaurant had been a biscuits and gravy diner. The owner decided to keep the Biscuits part of the name for its recognition factor. He had also expanded Biscuits to accommodate more customers. I felt like I was dining at an El Mercado restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, and that warmed my heart. I ordered Huevos Rancheros with a side of grits and butter. My daughter ordered a Biscuits Bowl with a side of fresh fruit. The food servings were plentiful and delicious. We ate slowly, savoring each bite, while taking in the liveliness of the place.

We then drove some blocks up Broad Ripple Avenue, parked the car, got out, and walked. One restaurant I want to try on my next visit is Taste of Havana. Across the avenue an Indian eatery also beckoned. We strolled along, turned on North College Avenue, where we entered HoiTea ToiTea [“Not Your Granny’s Tea Room”]. My daughter had picked up literature about this new tea room in March at the Home and Garden show in Indianapolis: Erstwhile tea aficionados are we; we felt compelled to explore HoiTea ToiTea! This tea emporium conducts tea-making classes, and sells all sorts of teas that the adventurous can mix. The café invites one to eat breakfast, lunch, and pastries. The Almond Amaretto tea called to me, as the Almond Amaretto Tea Latte did to my daughter. She ordered a Blackberry Lavender Macaroon, while I found the Nutella-filled croissant irresistible. We sat near the large windows overlooking the avenue. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we missed the free Indianapolis Orchestra Concert at the Library! Fortunately, there’s another concert in June!

Ciao for now.


Gray Days

Valentino suggests having an espresso or a cappuccino to give one a lift in the

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

It’s been days and days since sunlight and blessed UV rays beamed down upon us. Small wonder people in this part of the country suffer depression during these dreary winter months. At least snow whitens and brightens up the landscape. We have had only rain, rain, and more rain lately. The result is the landscape appears to be even bleaker than usual. The question becomes, how to surmount the gloomy elements without feeling as if one inhabits a Bronte novel overlooking the moors? Here are a few strategies I use to combat the dismal days.

  1. We leave up the Christmas tree. It’s artificial, so no worries on that front! The hundreds of white lights give a lift to the spirits. Another plus: Valentino the cat adores the plush skirt around the tree. He naps underneath it frequently, thereby changing up the game for our fluffy feline.
  2. Rediscover a favorite drink. I recommend a carbonated one during daylight hours. It’s sad to think of someone being totally sloshed to ward off the cheerless weather. Recently, I spied a box of La Croix Grapefruit Flavored Sparkling Water at the local Target. Now I pour my La Croix into a fun glass such as Snoopy wearing a striped stocking cap while sitting on to of his doghouse. To cheer me further, I even place a brightly colored straw in my glass.
  3. On the subject of new drinks, I admit to indulging in Samuel Adams’ Winter Lager. The cinnamon and other spices in this special lager lift my spirits as I imbibe it while I noshing on a Costco Pepperoni Pizza.
  4. Read a new book. I’m currently reading Jamie Attenburg’s Saint Maizie. While I ready myself for my annual read of Jane Austin’s Persuasion, I am also re-reading Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing. Last week I indulged in reading again her I Feel Bad About My Neck. Hilarious! I often like to read two or three books at once for fun on the literary front.
  5. Watch something on these long winter nights. On Sunday I will be viewing the new BBC series, Victoria, on PBS about the young queen taking the reigns of power. Even Queen Elizabeth II has a very cool series about her: The Crown. Old favorites, like Psyche, The Gilmore Girls, and The Thin Man movies make me happy.
  6. Make casseroles. I love Alton Brown’s Macaroni and Cheese. Who knew a bay leaf, paprika, and egg could reinvent the classic comfort food?
  7. Eat in another part of the house, like in the family room, or in the living room. Move away from the dining room table or the seats around the kitchen island. Have a picnic on the floor with big cushions to sit on. Make festive appetizers. Eat a different kind of pizza, perhaps one with arugula, goat cheese, and a cornbread crust.
  8. Take heart that Spring will return in March. Eventually trees will have leaves once more, and crocus will push up from the ground to greet us.

Ciao for now.


Buckingham palace

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I have a new, vicarious pleasure.

It has nothing to do with erotica.

Another knows of my secret delight.

I feel certain Netflix will not betray me.

My joy is in watching The Crown.

            I admit it: I am an historical royal aficionado.

There you have it.

My guilty gratification revolves around a young queen.

Said royal attempts to navigate the stuffy, stodgy waters of royalty.

I don’t know how she breathed with the world watching.

The costumes, the setting, the politics all captivate me.

In spite of historical inaccuracies, The Crown’s narrative is good.

It’s more than good: it’s riveting, as are the actors.

Viewing all the protocol and precedence, I’m happy to be a non-royal.

But don’t take my word for it.

Watch it for yourself and see what you think.

Maybe you’ll get caught up in the thorough Britishness of it.

I know I did.

Ciao for now.





The Arm Chair Traveler

I have fond memories of travels on particular Greek
I have fond memories of travels on particular Greek

By Mary Anna Violi |@Mary Anna Violi

While I am grounded due to the chaos in my back, I find myself watching Netflix more than ever before. What I am watching revolves around movies and television series set in foreign locales. Since my back issues thwarted my travel plans for the month of July, at least I am able to travel vicariously through film.

One program I am now addicted to is from Australia: “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, based on the Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. The setting is 1920’s Melbourne, Australia. Phryne Fisher, played by Essie Davis, who portrayed Vermeer’s wife in the film “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, is a wealthy, independent, brilliant, seductive, female sleuth. The support cast is outstanding too, as are the mysteries themselves. The period music, clothing, World War I references, and conflicts of those who served in the Australian military are amazing. I highly recommend both the books and the television series.

I watched a 1980’s film I had seen years ago: “Shirley Valentine”, with Pauline Collins portraying Shirley Valentine. It began as a stage play and then was parlayed into a movie. The heroine is a “housewife” in Manchester, England whose life has become a mundane routine of drudgery, and whose marriage has deteriorated into one of whose husband thrives on predictable meals on certain nights of the week. A turning point in the story is when Joe the husband becomes enraged that Shirley serves his Tuesday eggs and chips again on a Thursday, instead of steak and chips. Shirley’s friend has won a two-week trip for two to the island of Mykonos, Greece, and Jane insists that Shirley travel with her. Filmed on location on Mykonos, the scenery is breath taking. Seeing Mykonos this way, reminded me of my various travels to the Greek islands of Crete, Thassos, and Skiathos. Shirley Valentine’s experiences on the island proved to be as cathartic as mine were on the Greek islands.

Another film I liked, though not as much as those mentioned above, was Steve Coogen’s “The Trip to Italy”. I feasted on the panoramic Italian countryside where I had spent much time, while reliving the gustatory delights of local Italian eateries. Coogen’s “The Trip” was filmed in England, but I preferred the second mockumentary in Italy. Both films are humorous, though I found them tedious at certain junctures.

There are worse ways to pass the time at home recovering than enjoying Netflix flix. Today I am looking forward to seeing “Bicycling with Moliere”, which is set in France. I am inclined to pull out my DVD of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”, a film that zigzags between contemporary Paris and 1920’s Paris. This calls for a glass of French wine.

Ciao for now.

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights -
Friday Night Lights –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

One of the few television programs I watched was Friday Night Lights.  Now I am able to relive the excitement of the show through Netflix.  In as much as I relish Friday Night Lights, it tugs at my heartstrings.  This has much to do with hearkening back to those Friday night football games of my small Catholic high school and the rush of adrenaline in cheering on a winning football team.

And win we did.  As the Vietnam War raged on, filling the newspapers and nightly news programs with gory scenes of war in a far off country, high school football permitted our minds to drift elsewhere, at least on Friday nights.  While race riots and urban terrorist networks burned our major cities, wreaking death and havoc nationwide, we screamed and yelled for our high school football team.  It made the chaos beyond our turf’s realm disappear, at least on Friday nights.

Years later, we reside near the local public high school that my daughter attended.  Daylight grows shorter, and dusk casts its shadows earlier than I like, yet the roar of the crowd in the high school stadium, the queues of cars up and down our residential streets, the jubilant shouts of spectators, the blasting echo of the sports announcers combine to remind me of the joy of watching a football team’s win on the field.  My high school alma mater’s team went downstate for championship games throughout my four years at the school.  To this day, photographs of those championship seasons line the walls of the school.

I played in the band for those football games of yore.  We had to have been the smallest of the area’s high school bands, but we had a young, dynamic bandleader, and our hearts were strong because we got to play our school’s fight song repeatedly throughout those four years.  Kyle Chandler, who plays Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights, has that same square-jawed look of determination that my high school’s Head Coach had.  The Assistant Coaches on Friday Night Lights remind me of the handsome ones at my alma mater during those four championship seasons.  The electric charge that runs through the Texas-based football show’s student body, boosters, team, and coaching staff, never fails to rekindle the passion of my adolescent self in the bleachers of those Friday Night Lights of yore.

Ciao for now.

Vicarious Pleasures 1

The squirrel ia a metaphor for my sometimes cluttered mind -
The squirrel ia a metaphor for my sometimes cluttered mind –


By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

I have a secret that brings me vicarious delight each day:  I read  Why would a well-educated, gainfully employed, loving parent, well-read, and all-round intelligent person read such a publication?  Here is why I read it:  It’s mindless.    The biggest decision I have to make when the webpage appears is, “Do I want to look first at the photos of the day, or read salacious gossip about some purported “celebrity”?”  That’s the depth of the read and the photos.  Yet, like my cup of green tea, I turn to the site to clear my head of weightier decision-making, giving myself over for ten minutes to the latest spin of the day on people I will likely never meet, and, when all is said and done, really have little interest in knowing.  This is probably why reading this fluff helps me de-stress, decompress, and tune out for brief moments.

In Nora Ephron’s last book, I Remember Nothing, she mentions that she has no idea who anyone is in People Magazine.  I am getting to the point where I agree with the late Nora.  Since I rarely watch television [I view most programs and films via Netflix], and haven’t viewed a reality program since the first Bachelor, the vapid cast members and lightweight subject matter make me feel as if I am experiencing my brain cells deteriorating.  Besides, if I want to catch up on whatever or whomever, I can read about it online at

In long grocery store lines, I used to thumb through the latest hard copy issue of the weekly rag to see its glossy photos; however, now that I shop primarily at Whole Foods, I gravitate toward the pithier Whole Foods readings.  Besides, WF is far too sophisticated to scatter about its kiosks such lowbrow reads like People.

Don’t judge me.

Ciao for now.