Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good food, good wine, good company...

Tonight, my roommate and I braved the never-ceasing cold winds, and walked down lower Thames street with the simple mission of a bit of shopping and some dinner at Mamma Luisa Restaurante. A better writer would be able to justly describe what the walk was like - quaint New England architecture, cozy little shops, kids who obviously think nothing of the cold and wear clothing more suited for September... but I'll just cut to the chase, and tell you about what a fabulous place I think Mamma Luisa's is.

Granted, as a vegetarian, any restaurant with a whole sort of submenu devoted to meatless appetizers and entrees automatically receives plenty of bonus points from me. And, decor and ambience also rank high in my book, so Mamma Luisa's was doing really well before any food was actually served. The restaurant is formally a house with only minimal renovations, so in some ways you feel like you're having dinner at a friend's house. It has warm yellow walls and dim lighting, and we got a little booth by the window so we could make up stories and wonder about the people who live across the street.

So I started with a salad of arugula, dates, goat cheese, walnuts, radicchio, & grapes. The main course was a ricotta and basil-stuffed ravioli with a tomato-based sauce including fava beans and plenty of garlic. And then, of course there was the chocolate cake, and the wine... It was all so satisfying, so delicious, I could have sat there for three more courses. There were so many other things on the menu I wanted to try: different kinds of bruschetta, the butternut squash ravioli. I cannot imagine a better meal.

Last time till 2015, I heard

Hope you all caught the lunar eclipse last night! An auspicious omen for the beginning of our conference, I'd say.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Original Goat Island?

As we all converge on Goat Island, I am wondering why there are so many islands in the world named Goat Island. Which one is the original Goat Island? I have only made a cursory attempt at answering this query. Anyone able to offer me a definitive answer will receive the beverage of his/her choice--either at this MLA, or a future MLA, if the answer comes from someone not in attendance.

Is it this Goat Island, the oldest state park in the U.S.A.?
What about this Goat Island?
You might be able to buy this Goat Island.
This Goat Island is also known as Mokuauia.
Goat Island is the former name of Yerba Buena Island, although the author of this encyclopedia entry was "not available."
Goat Island is the name of two different islands off the New Zealand coast!
Could the original Goat Island be an IBA (Important Bird Area)?
I know it isn't this particular Goat Island, but they have somehow managed to work the Google algorithm in their favor.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Goat Island Light

There is a lighthouse on the north end of Goat Island, and in true New England fashion it is known by several names: Newport Harbor Light, Goat Island Light, or simply The Green Light. At first glance, it almost looks like a prop, as if the Hyatt Regency Newport wanted to up the seaside charm quotient for its guests, but this little lighthouse has quite a history. According to the Newport Harbor Lighthouse History, there has been a light on Goat Island since January 1, 1824, and the light has been automated since 1963. The picket fence surrounding the current lighthouse was built in late 2006. I imagine there will be many photos taken of this little charmer during MLA, weather permitting. I hope no one goes over the fence and into the bay.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hyatt Security

We have heard from the Hyatt Regency Newport that their renovations are behind schedule, and so we will have to endure another MLA meeting with construction crews around us as an occupying force. I am including a photo I took back in October of the mighty Hyatt Security golf cart, which gave me an early indication that the projected deadlines for renovation would not be met. Let's hope the shuttle between the Hyatt and the Marriott isn't a similar vehicle.

New items in the MLA Shop!

As always, the MLA Shop will be open, and we have two new items for Newport:

  • back by popular demand: MLA luggage tags!
  • to keep you singing in the rain: MLA umbrellas!
We'll have plenty of MLA corkscrews, sticky notes, coffee mugs, Yo Yo Ma posters and more to keep your home and office in MLA style!

Silent Auction news!

Be sure to save space in your suitcase for that special something for the MLA Silent Auction! Will the famed pink corset make an appearance this year? I've already received responses from folks who will be bringing unique items sure to get the bidding going!

New for Newport: a LIVE auction post-cocktail hour and pre-banquet. Now you know we'd only have a LIVE auction if the offerings were truly spectacular. How spectacular? You'll have to wait and see! And of course, who will be the auctioneer??? You never know with the extraordinarily talents of this group!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Causeway (Caw's Way)

I am proposing the causeway connecting mainland Newport and Goat Island be named Caw's Way for the duration of MLA's 77th Annual Meeting. This will not be the only name for it, of course, but it should be one of the names. I was met with confusion when driving down America's Cup Avenue trying to find a sign for the Goat Island Connector Road (as Google Maps had indicated the street was named) back in October when I arrived for the NEMLA meeting. I don't remember what it was called, but it wasn't Goat Island Connector Road. The map the Hyatt Regency Newport gave us says Goat Island Connector, which also appears on the Newport Cybermap. Call it what you will--I will call it Caw's Way.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Claiborne Pell (Newport) Bridge

Come Sea The View! That's what the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority has to say, and the route most of us heading to MLA will use will take us across Narragansett Bay on the Pell Bridge. I took the above photo looking Northwest from Goat Island, standing just outside the Hyatt Regency Newport, while there for the Fall NEMLA Meeting on October 23, 2007. The toll is $2 one way for most all cars, pickups and vans. Like many roadways in New England, the bridge seems to have several different names: Claiborne Pell Bridge, Pell Bridge Newport, and Newport Bridge, to name a few. No matter what you call the bridge, the road it elevates above the bay is RI 138. It opened for traffic on June 28, 1969. For a history of the bridge, and to learn who Claiborne Pell was (you might have heard of his Grants), visit any or all of these sites:
Claiborne Pell (Newport) Bridge (RI 138)
Pell Bridge Newport Background & History
Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge

Friday, February 1, 2008

Restaurant list now available!

If you're a Foodie like me, you will want to take stock of the eating options in Newport! Catherine Gick has put together a big list of restaurants close to our hotels, which will appear on paper in your registration packets, but you can now preview the online version here:

Many of these restaurants have Web sites, and I must say, some of them were making me hungry!