Finally, a Night Out…..Both Music and Great Food

Warren Wolf on vibes.
I went to The Dirty Dog Jazz Café last Wednesday night. I have been working long hours and have been exhausted since January but I have seen Warren Wolf before and had to see him again. I saw him at the Detroit Jazz Fest in 2014. Before I saw him I didn’t like vibes.  His performance that they turned me around. He played a great set and I’m glad I made it.


The evening was made better by the return of the Grand Marnier Chocolate soufflé with vanilla cream sauce. It had been off the menu for a bit and was my favorite dessert at the Dirty Dog.

It was a great evening with great music and unexpectedly wonderful food.

La Dolce Vita


A way of life and a restaurant in Detroit. On Saturday evening, a friend invited me to go to La Dolce Vita to celebrate my birthday. I had not been there for about 10 years and remembered with pleasure both the food and the ambiance.

From the front, there are three dim neon lights saying ldv. Going around the back to the main entrance is another story. There is valet parking and the lot was quite crowded. I walked through the entrance arch which were tastefully decorated with small white lights on to a patio emptied for the winter months. then through a door to a restaurant with several rooms. There was live music in the room with the bar. I was seated in the room next to the bar and only had to wait a couple of minutes for my friend. The Christmas decorations were right on the edge of being over the top.

The picture above is a view from the table. I remembered the bruschetta from 10 years ago as amazing and ordered it along with Chicken Marsala. My friend ordered Lobster ravioli and a salad.  Although the food was very good, I was slightly disappointed. The food was a reflection of the clientele.  It was solidly middle of the road and not very exciting. As I usually do, I ordered things I do not do or cannot do at home. A good choice since I can’t say I can do better. The meal was slightly bland. Even the dessert of Crème Brûlée was bland.

I fairly sure that with my interest in cooking for the last five or six years, I have changed. The food at La Dolce Vita has not.

Searching for the perfect Rueben Sandwich

20140619-094655-35215367.jpg

Ever since I had my first Rueben Sandwich, I have had a love affair with the sandwich. When I see the sandwich on a menu, my stomach seems to say please order the Rueben. The traditional Reuben is corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian or Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut on a grilled rye. Each restaurant seems to put their own twist on the Rueben. Some work and some don’t.

I went to the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI where I had had good food in the past. I saw a Russian Rueben on the menu and ordered. This one was Pastrami, coleslaw, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese on a grilled pumpernickel.

Although this one was not the traditional, it was a very good Reuben. I tasted the coleslaw before biting into the sandwich and discovered that it was a bit bland so I added a spicy mustard to the sandwich. The pumpernickel bread added a robust flavor not usually encountered. The grilling adds a crust to the outside of the sandwich and aids in the eating process. The substitution of coleslaw for sauerkraut added a crunchy texture to the mix. So, the sandwich was a new and very good experience. I’m sure I will continue to seek the perfect Rueben. The Detroit Metro area is a big place and I don’t know where the journey will lead me.

BLT Heaven

20140402-090533.jpg

Each year I work a seasonal job and right now is the season. Yesterday I helped one of my coworkers and he bought me lunch. We have a restaurant in the strip mall where I work called Crispelli’s. He asked me what I wanted and I said the BLT.

The sandwiches from this place last for two meals. The BLT is my favorite BLT of all time. It has at least 5 slices of thick sliced applewood smoked bacon. Even at this time of year, the tomatoes taste like summer tomatoes. They have the rich tomato taste without any mealiness. The lettuce is crisp Romaine lettuce which adds a whisper of a bitter bite. They make their own bread and the taste and texture is a major addition to the sandwich as a whole. They also make their own chips. The chips are warm when they are added to the bag. Each element of the lunch complements the rest.

The picture is what was left after lunch. Guess what I had for dinner last night?

PD9 Township Jazz Project at Motor City Wine

20131218-103534.jpg

Last Sunday night, December 15, 2013, I went to Motor City Wine to see the PD9 Township Jazz Project and have dinner in a pop-up restaurant featuring the food of Chef Jesse Knott. I has heard the music before and really liked the program. The menu looked great and I especially wanted the seared lamb chop and maybe the Jameson barley mushroom soup. The pop-up restaurant started at 5p.m. And the music started at 7p.m. I decided to get there about 6:30p.m. to take advantage of both.

All I had to do was look outside to know that even though it was a Sunday evening I would need a lot more time to get to to Motor City Wine than usual. I got there about 7p.m. and there were no parking spots left in the in the parking lot or on the same side of the street. I drove through again and saw a spot where I could park and slid my car into a small space and went in the back door. The place was absolutely jammed. There was no place to sit. I talked to the owner David A-P and he said the chef was in the weeds from the beginning. So, the menu was wildly popular and they were out of food. So, no dinner. I found later that they were waiting over a hour for food. The bar was out of my favorite drink so I had the San Pelligrino grapefruit drink.

The second wave of customer were for the music. I knew the music would be the kind I like and I knew some people would leave after they finished their dinner. So, I listened and kept my eye out for people leaving. With the snow deep and the temperature frigid, it is sometime hard to decide if people are leaving or going for a smoke since smoking is not allowed inside in public places. I finally got a seat at a table with a lady and her husband. And it was a short wait. I could finally just sit down and enjoy.

I have been listening to South African jazz and pop for over thirty years. A lot of the music is joyful and just make me happy when I listen to it. I really like the complex rhythms that usually are a part of the music. And some of this music makes me want to dance and at home I dance around the house to some of the music they would be playing this evening.

One of the numbers they did was an Abdullah Ibrahim( formerly Dollar Brand) called “Cape Town Fringe”. I like the melody on this number and it could go through my mind for hours very happily and I have enjoyed it for years. This evening, the band brought it back to mind and did a great job with the arrangement. Musically, tonight the number was more complex than my usual version but it was possibly more enjoyable since it was live and kept the ‘feeling’ of the original.

They did a few Brotherhood of Breath songs. As I listen again to Brotherhood of Breath, it has a sound of jazz that is “more jazzy than Abdullah Ibrahim but still retains the South African feel of memorable melody and complex rhythms. I’m not sure if they played “Country Cooking”. I forgot to take notes since the music was so good. What I can say is ” Country Cooking” is a favorite of mine and I think it was played.

One of the songs was a number commemorating Steve Biko. I remember hearing of his death and the song brought back the memories of that era. The song was haunting as are my thoughts about his death. The band did bring it back around to a more cheerful ending to the program.