Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Batuqui um restaurante brasileiro (Batuqui A Brazilian Restaurant)

I recently visited Batuqui, a Brazilian restaurant opened in the Larchmere/Shaker/Buckeye area with some friends to test drive the restaurant and the menu, at a soft opening. A soft opening is like a dress rehearsal for restaurants. Batuqui owners, Carla Batista and Gustavo Duarte invited a small group of people to practice on before the official opening.
Firstly thank you so much for opening your restaurant in the neighborhood. Batuqui fills a culinary void and I predict much success for the restaurant.

I enjoyed the experience very much and many of the dishes are exceptional.
Batuqui has a patio in front for diners. Being in a converted house it of course has an intimate feel inside and out.
Our entourage had a great time enjoying appetizers, salads, drinks, and entrees.

The first thing we tasted was Bolinho de Bacalhau, a Cod fish croquette appetizer. It was cooked to perfection. Out of all the ways to present this Batuqui serves several slightly larger than bite sized croquettes, breaded, and deep fried. The proportion of bread to Cod is perfect and pretty traditional, however the bread coating is coarser than I’ve had in past food forays. This provided for a fantastic contrast of the exterior crunch to the pâté like Cod interior. It was served with lime garnish which to my surprise complimented the Cod well.

Pao De Queijo, another traditional dish of chewy cheese puffs was wow wonderful! I made sure these stayed at the other end of the table so as not to eat them all. Pão de queijo are a lot like French gougères. With both, the end result is a hollow pastry puff. Unlike the French gougères pão de queijo are made with tapioca flour or cassava flour and didn’t seem as crisp as the French counterpart, but were kind of melt in you mouth chewy.

The next fantastic offering that caught my palate was Calamari Samba. Only the second time I can remember having good calamari in Cleveland (J Alexander's in Beechwood??). I enjoyed the red, light, tomato based, sauce though it ever so slightly overpowered the calamari ringlets. This appetizer comes with crostini, a thin, crunchy, seasoned toast.

Xim Xim (de Galinha) was yet another smashing dish, ok this dish is just plain addicting! It was so sublime I think I had a dream about it for a couple of days afterward. Ximxim in many African tongues simply means “stew,” and galinha means chicken in portuguese. Traditionally made with palm oil, dark meat chicken, coconut, shrimp, garlic, ginger and a few other sundries this dish greets your nose as it arrives at the table. If you have allergies, make sure you ask as this dish is often made with peanuts or cashews. Although this was chock full of solid foodstuff it was more of a flavorful soup as opposed to a thick stewy liquid. To many though the process and intent determine whether it is a stew or soup. On the eco tip I’d love to see this made with olive oil rather than palm oil, though it would alter the taste and tradition, still the verdict is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Churrasco Misto, the next entre, is a style of cooking I love. The flavor was very good. The chicken and sirloin tasted like a great dry rub. Is this ever made with chicken dark meat?? It was a great with the farofa, tomato relish, and rice. Farofa is a toasted cassava flour mixture, sometimes cassava flour is substituted with maize flour (farinha de milho). So when you see that sawdust looking stuff on your plate that often accompanies meat… yes, go for it! Eat it directly, sprinkle it on your food, mix it in, revel.

Batuqui, should explore their plating and presentation a bit. I did note that on a few dishes the presentation did not bespeak how marvelous the dish was, dishes should look as exciting as is practical, ergo the garnish. Long gone are the days when an establishment would just plop a sprig of parsley on the dish and call it a day. All things being equal in the restaurant business the experience is as important as the fare and can make a big difference.

Desserts were nice, light, and satisfying.
Pudim de Leite is rich and creamy, it’s a flan made with condensed milk something sweet like sugar or honey and eggs. This was ok but didn't do much for me. It got the least attention at our table and I think was the last to disappear. I don't remember any comments about it. I'm used to the more delicately textured, thicker flan flan and this was thin and the texture very different more toward chewy than melt in your mouth. I'll try it again next time I go.

In contrast the Coconut Butter Cake was such a delight and what a surprise and extra added treat that it came to the table warm!

Another dish was Mousse de Maracuja or passion fruit mousse. One person at our table wanted some addition to the taste, to break up the flavor and although that would work I enjoyed savoring the layers of taste and how some flavor hit my palate at the back and other flavors settle near the middle, just a lot of great movement lingering at the back of my mouth.

Our server was fun and engaging, attentive and made us feel very comfortable. So was hostess Alexis/Alexandra yes she was fun.
I loved the atmosphere and the decor was fun. It was exciting seeing a guitar in the corner and the young man on the cajon or box drum was a great addition. Batuqui plans to have music on Sundays.

Batuqui should not overlook promoting that they have vegetarian dishes and should seek to provide vegetarian versions of some of the dishes they have on the menu. I spoke to someone about trying Batuqui out, they responded, "don't they have meat? Doesn't sound vegetarian to me." They have two veggie dishes and a few nice salads, but I think they can turn at least one other dish veggie with not a lot of trouble, for instance, they can do a veggie Xim Xim without the chicken, with seafood for pescatarians, without for vegetarians.

I don't know if this would challenge being totally Brazilian but they have a lot of great tastes and flavors with which to work. They could possibly marry the sauce and calamari at the last minute, which they probably do anyway, and that sauce is a possible soup base. Samba soup and salad with a side of Pao de Queijo or with crostini. I'll stop showing how much I don't know about the cuisine.
My point is to make sure they stay competitive and capitalize on their inventory and the huge vegetarian market out there today.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jay D'Amico interview from The Jazz Mind in memory of Bobby Jackson

This is a  fun and interesting interview of Jay D'Amico

  "Selections from: Nocturne (CAP Records/2010)
Jazz music is a twentieth century invention that stands on the history of everything that came before it.   Included in that history is the influence of European classical music..."  ENJOY.
In Memory of Bobby Jackson
"Bobby Jackson, a longtime, award-winning jazz broadcaster and educator, died Dec. 9 in Cleveland. Jackson, who was 57, died suddenly of undetermined causes.."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Writin is Fightin Fighting the Good Fight Rest In Peace Amiri Baraka

I like that Alexs Pate states in the video below “Amiri was before beat,” because though Mr. Baraka was part of the movement, even publishing, Kerouac and Ginsberg before he started Yugen magazine, he is often not thought of as part of this very significant beat shift in literary thinking, especially poetry.

Amiri Baraka strikes a chord in me for many reason, one reason because of his bravery.   Still I search for that consistent core or reserve and resolve to be who I am and do the right thing.  He is asked in this video what is the cost of truth telling. I feel that I have made great and significant gains but sometimes not. 
 I’m not quite sure what institution Amiri Baraka didn’t buck while being himself and following what he learned and what he believe in.  For instance he distanced himself from Black Nationalism to become a Marxist.
           He imparted some insight to this shift stating, "As long as the black writer was obsessed with being an accepted, middle class, Baraka wrote, he would never be able to speak his mind, and that would always lead to failure. Baraka felt that America only made room for white obfuscators, not black ones."           
            His life at the very least exemplifies, an Ismael Reed, quote, “writin is fightin,” from Reed's essay titled, Writin is Fightin: Thirty Seven Years of Boxing on Paper. I love that Baraka was more than sympathetic toward Castro and Cuba, which he made plain with, Cuba Libre, an essay and as a member of the Fair Play for Cuba committee in 1960 and through, ‘A Declaration of Conscience,’ a literary endeavor in favor of Castro’s regime that he co authored.

       Alexs Pate’s intro is rather long but, actually 
one of the few intros you don’t want to fast 
forward through. Amir Baraka starts at 9:34
Perhaps the following bespeaks my simple-mindedness, but of all his endeavors, of all there would be to discuss I would have loved to talk to him about his name change.  I legally changed my name in the early 90s and to this time, January 2014 still many are insulted and hurt feelings continue with many refusing to speak it or even write it in legal documents. I approached it thinking of its permanence more or less like a tattoo.  Interestingly, out of all the stakeholders (many more than I thought there could be) the only one who heard the why and embraced me, Cavana Ibeji Opo Faithwalker, was my father after whom I was named.
            Many laugh at us Africans-American half-breeds and we at ourselves as the misspellingess, most prolific name changers on the planet from Shanaynay to Tequila to Mercedes to Trevon, Malik, and Jamal.  I am not positing that we should all change our names or even that we corner the market on name changing and creating anew. I do affirm it is one of our weapons of mass construction to reclaim our very souls and bodies as we have light to do so.  However, we must stop and look at the continuum from Shanaynay to Amiri and realize that  “X” marks the spot.  “X” may be the alpha and omega of our kujichagulia, our self-determinism.  Poor Shaniqua political at birth, political by birth, political when she just wants a proper future for her son.  Take heart in Amiri.  
Thank you Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones; October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), formerly known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jazz is My Religion Surrealism is My Point of View

Ted Joans reads poetry with jazz, 1964 Amsterdam, read starts at 2:47 in.
Theodore "Ted" Joans (July 4, 1928 – April 25, 2003) was an American jazz poet, surrealist, trumpeter, and painter. His work stands at the intersection of several avant-garde streams and some have seen in it a precursor to the orality of the spoken-word movement. However he criticized the competitive aspect of "slam" poetry. Joans is known for his motto: "Jazz is my religion, and Surrealism is my point of view".- Wikipedia Ted Joans

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jazz, Two Poems and a Funeral

King Pleasure's vocalese classic
Parker's Mood

Jazz, Two Poems and a Funeral

The impetus for the last blog, 'The impetus for the last blog, 'Jazzhead Great Bobby Jackson Dies at Age 57.' Here are bits and pieces sparked by his memorial had jazz or course and poetry.
One thing that thrills me about ‘spoken word’ is how the structure of the word on the page, its grouping with other words, whether consistent end rhyme is employed, stanzas and couplets, that make meter and even individual iambs in say tetrameter or pentameter all are questioned.   The word is primary but flows with, pushes against, responds to and calls or answer or completes an idea the music. Enter jazz vocalese the art of taking lyrics and singing them to pre-existing tunes, the structure of the rhythm of the words against and with the structure of jazz tune. The music and it's form is primary. In either case words can be on the upbeat, downbeat, off tempo, they expand and contract in the most interesting and exciting ways.
At Bobby Jackson’s memorial service on Monday the 16th (2013) councilman Jay Westbrook read a piece he found in a small book of poetry at Bobby’s house.  The poem/lyrics were by King Pleasure aka Clarence Beeks a jazz singer in the 40s and 50s.  The piece is called, Parker’s Mood by Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker.  King Pleasure does a vocalese version of it and thus the lyrics exist, a year before Parker died in March 1955. It was already an emotional time at Bobby’s memorial. At the reading of Parker’s Mood myself, many in my row, the row in front, the row behind cried Bobby a river.  Jay didn’t read with any particular expertise as much as reading from a place of deep loss at Booby’s passing.  It is easy to confuse the piece with ‘Goin’ to Chicago’ many of the lyrics are the same and there is a hint of humor throughout.  Jay’s reading of the piece was so different from the performance of the piece yet the spirit seemed to remain.

 King Pleasure - Parker's Mood- Come with me If you wanna go to Kansas City
I'm feeling low down and blue, my heart's full of sorrow Don't hardly know what to do;
where will I be tomorrow? Goin' to Kansas City. Want to go, too? No, you can't make it with me. Goin' to Kansas City, sorry that I can't take you. When you see me comin', raise your window high, When you see me leaving, baby, hang your head and cry,

I'm afraid there's nothing in Miss Creamy's dreamy town A honky-tonky monkey woman can do.
She'd only bring herself down.
So long, everybody,
the time has come and I must leave you. So, if don't never see your smiling face again
Make a promise you'll remember, like a Christmas day in december, That I told you all through thick and thin,
on up until the end, Parker's been your friend.
Don't hang your head when you see those six pretty horses pullin' me.
Put a twenty dollar silver piece on my watch chain, Look at the smile on my face, And sing a little song  to let the world know I'm really free. Don't cry for  me, 'cause I'm going to Kansas City.Come with  me, if you want to go to Kansas City

Don't Let the Sun Go Down..

Well not exactly. Another set of words that was not read was, The Sun Must Go Down. it was in the program and I was struck by how the sanctity of creations aren't that holy if they don't fit the occasion. There were a few lines cut from the lyrics before going into the program. Mandrill came into being in 1968, started by three brothers from brooklyn all horn players; trombone, trumpet and sax. They are considered funk not jazz. (Click on the pretty Mandrill to hear, "The Sun Must Go Down," lyrics are below)

It is an interesting conversation between poetry (I’m using an expansive definition of poem) on the page, poetry when one speaks it and words when music is included.   Often the relationship is poetry with music added and many times music w poetry added.  

2014 marks year 17 for the Nia Coffeehouse.  In the early years I endeavored to bring music, mostly standard jazz  and poetry audiences together.  The jazz folks inevitably wanted more jazz less poetry and the poetry audience wanted more poetry and less jazz.

On venues like youtube how often music and even the interpretation added to the word on the page are distasteful. Many times it seems the poster does not fully understand or accept the power of the word on the page and seeks to help it out a bit. So often the music is inappropriate to the word or the volume is plain overpowering.  Many times the voice is not so much interpreting as pushing a preconceived idea of what the poem should do or helping the poem with trills here and whispers there.  

The Sun Must Go Down lyrics:
The Sun Must Go Down
One moment feels good, the next not the same
The only thing changeless is change.
The pendulum swings the tides creeping in In the darkness we question
The sun must goo down! Sun must go down and so are we bound
To give way to inevitable changes.
One more time around but look what we ve found
A fresh dawn, a new growth for the ages.
As we flow on our trip once again have a grip,
on the hassels that we probably lack
the sun shine on we turn our backs. T

-Omar Mesa 21 Mandrill

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bobby Jackson

  Jazzhead Great Bobby Jackson Dies at Age 57

The world and jazz community has suffered a great and sudden loss.  Although Bobby grew up in the Bronx we claim him as our own.  Bobby died suddenly at his home in Cleveland, Ohio Monday December 9th common era 2013.

Jackson leaves his wife Lisa Jean and his 10-year-old son, Xavier. The family is welcoming support through donations to the Bobby Jackson Memorial Fund. Send donations to Key Bank, 3266 Steelyard Drive, Cleveland, OH 44109.
Here is the obit from Jazz Times.

Memorial Service and Celebration

A funeral service for Bobby will be held this coming Monday, December 16 at 11AM at the University Circle United Methodist Church,  1919 E.107th Street.
Also Monday  evening the 16th  at 7PM at Nighttown, Sean Jones, the artistic director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, on whose board Jackson served, will lead area jazz musicians in a celebration of Jackson’s life. There is no admission, donation to the Bobby Jackson Memorial Fund are be welcomed.
The family is also inviting anyone who has a story about or memory of Jackson to share it at his website, The Jazz Mind.

Bobby Jackson muy sauve

I will also remember Bobby.  He was wonderfully funny and had a penchant for pulling his expressive face into the act. I marveled and still do at his intimate relationship with jazz greats like Percy Heath, Christian McBride, Janis Seigel of Manhattan Transfer and on and on.  These folks were more than just a day at work to Bobby.  There was nobody he couldn't call up 'out of the clear blue.'
He could make lemonade out of lemons faster than most.  He was warm, engaging, honest, straight forward and authentic and boy did he love his family.. yeah and he was the ultimate jazzhead..

Quote from Monday:" Bobby Jackson is kickin' it with Miles and Mandela this morning. " Makes me smile.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Whole Lotta Readin Going On.. and Poetry Dec. 1st

Near the 216 CLEVELAND area?
Don't forget to stop by the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Woodmere's Eton Square on Chagrin Blvd., and join me for a fun time of browsing, shopping, kibitzing and hearing poetry . . A great group of poets reading between 1:00pm and 5:00pm (see flyer).  Buy something with vouchers (PRINT pi
c two below) and Heights Writes gets a percentage of your purchase. Heights Writes supports the Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights which is a two year post and other artistic educational endeavors. My term ends in June. It is also Educators' Day at Barnes & Nobles and educators get discounts. NEED MORE INFO? CALL B&N ((216) 765-7520) There are very nice restaurants and shops in Eton Square and in the area from moderate to expensive, I here tell some folks will be smoking cigars across the street at Cousins afterward... could be just a rumor ;-)