Notice: By the time you get to this post, I am already on the other side of the world, for a 6 week work/vacation in Beijing. Given spotty internet access, I won’t be checking the blog as often as before, but rest assured, I’ll do my best to blog still every week! On the other hand, get excited for some pretty photography around the city and an introduction to the most authentic snacks on the streets of Beijing, by a native Beijinger, aka, Y.
Last week, I visited Y in Dallas, and being on a jazz club high recently, we checked out a jazz club called Sandaga 813 in Deep Ellum. I don’t remember how it started, but I have had an unhealthy obsession with jazz since early college years. In the beginning, I was into loungy music, any kind of soul, jazz, blues, bossa nova. Over the years, it’s evolved into jazz. Some of my favorites include Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. It’s never struck me as strange for a 26-year-old Asian girl like me to be in the same audience as 50s and 60s African American men, generally speaking. And if you are a jazz enthusiast, you’d know that any kind of jazz on tape cannot compare with live jazz, the spontaneity and creativity of it. So in pursuit of higher enlightenment, Y and I went to Sandaga 813 (Tuesday night 8pm is jazz night).
The venue was built as a mini concert hall and has scattered tables and chairs in front of a small stage. The lights were so dim that I tripped on my chair leg a few times when I tried to find my way to the lady’s room. As soon as we settled in our chairs, I knew that this place is no joke. The entire band of six set up on stage and rehearsed in front of the audience. In no time, songs after songs of originals and classics were played. No introductions were made, just pure good old jazz and awesome acoustics. Looking around us, it was predominantly African Americans, in their 40s-60s, again, we were outnumbered in so many ways. But that didn’t matter. The entire audience was swaying rhythmically like blades of grass in the wind, in their chairs to the tunes, at times clapping, at times bobbing their heads. Half an hour in, a short African American man in shades scurried between rows of tables to make rounds with every guest. Everyone seemed to know him and exchanged hugs and light banters. When he got to us, he introduced himself as the owner of the bar, and welcomed us with a big hug, and even asked us to sign in his guest book!
What was more magical, was that as more musicians arrived with their instruments (saxophone, keyboard, trumpet), they spontaneously joined in on stage, in the middle of songs, no fuss. In no time, the band expanded to ten people. They even allowed a guest in the audience who brought his saxophone to join the jam session. The event was more like an easygoing jazz session among an intimate circle of jazz lovers than a sit down formal concert. They took song requests and made changes to the music here and there as they saw fit. I felt like I was getting a privileged sneak peak into a what was meant to be a private unadvertised event.
At some point in the night, I looked over to the table next to us and saw that a man had his sketchpad open and charcoal and pens scattered on the table before him. We had made a few small talk and he showed me all his previous works, beautiful yet casual pencil sketches filled in with ink of jazz musicians and audience, some blowing into a saxophone, some leaning over their bass, resting their hands delicately over the strings. This man is a regular at Sandaga, and he often sketches while having a drink and listening to the music, making quietly soulful art. Such a pleasant discovery for me as a fellow painter! This is how I should be enjoy it all! The night left me mesmerized and hungry for more. I can’t wait to discover the even more abundant music scene in Los Angeles in a few months.
Speaking of other-worldly experiences, the recipe I will share with you today is from an other-worldly dish I had while I visited Vegas last year. It was a seafood pan roast at Palace Station’s Oyster Bar. A little disclosure, I had waited in line for more than two hours for a bite of this baby, and oh my, I’d be a criminal if I didn’t try to reinvent this at home. I had referred to Tiffany Bee’s recipe in making this, and here is the slightly less complicated and healthier version.
Seafood Pan Roast
Ingredients for tomato sauce base:
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp flour
Ingredients for seafood pan roast:
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 garlic, minced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 bag of mixed seafood, peeled shrimp, scallops, clams, crab etc
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp creole seasoning
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 cup of fish broth
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cook rice in a rice cooker.
Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, on medium heat, combine all ingredients for the base sauce and stir until it’s bubbly and combined. Set sauce aside for later.
In a separate pan, heat up canola oil on medium heat. Sweat the shallots until translucent for 7-8 minutes. Add garlic, celery and bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes until celery is soft.
Add butter to the pan and let it melt over contents and stir to combine. Add in seafood mix, pepper, salt, creole seasoning and saute for 5 minutes.
Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, wait until wine is mostly evaporated for 2 minutes. Then add fish stock and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Cover with lid and bring the pan to a boil for 2 minutes.
Slowly stir in the tomato base sauce and bring the pan to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. To serve, pour a heap of cooked rice over pan roast. Enjoy!