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.

Battling with Raccoons….

20140616-202358-73438149.jpg
The raccoon in the picture is a local raccoon but not the one who was in my house.

For about the last ten days I have been battling raccoons that moved into my home. At first, I thought the sounds were mice in my garage or their larger cousins rats. I put out mouse and rat traps and nothing. I put out mouse poison. There was not a nibble.

The sounds continued. The noises got louder. They were loudest at about 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.. After a few days with no results, I looked around and spotted a hole under and eave in my home. That day, that lady next door reported seeing a raccoon on the roof of my attached garage.

That evening. I was in my bedroom closet and heard a sound that sounded like birds chirping. It was a Mama raccoon and her babies. I shut the closet door. My ever attentive dog tried to open the door. She also started barking at walls.

Last Saturday, I called for help. I checked around and found a guy on Angie’s List who does live capture and releases the the invading wildlife back to the wild.

The first night, I heard the trap spring at about 9:30 p.m.. The cage was rattled periodically all night long. It was the Mama and she was not happy. From the sound showing the ability to rattle a rather large cage, I thought it was the Mama. When I checked in the morning, she was curled in a ball and sound asleep. I put in a call to my guy who said he would pick her up and set a new trap.

20140616-204134-74494506.jpg

Last night, one of the babes was trapped and was reunited with Mama at rehab. When the whole litter is trapped, they will go to the wild site. I have to say that the noise last night was so much less noise that I may just be able to get more sleep tonight. It is just before 9:00 p.m. and I can hear the rest of the babes getting ready to go out for the evening. There is a delicious can of cat food awaiting them.

Acoustic Ambince

20140602-234636-85596649.jpg

The first place I went was Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit to see the Mike Jellick Trio. I usually have something to eat. It is usually an appetizer since they are half off on Wednesday evening. I ordered the beef nachos and waited. I did get my club soda and lime so at least I had something to drink.

This blog is specifically about the acoustic experience. On Wednesday evening, Northern Lights Lounge is a good experience. Each instrument is set up so the microphones pick up the sound. An extra microphone is on stage for any additions. There is an actual professional sound guy who runs a sound check and makes adjustments. This is an unusually good acoustic experience. The room is also set up for music. The musicians are on a stage and wood is the predominant material. The speakers are set up so the sound spreads evenly throughout the room.

Venues can have all sorts of things that make it difficult to get a good sound. The Detroit Institute of Arts has a music program on Friday nights. It is well attended and is free. However,the room is huge and over two stories high.

A lot of the time, the musicians just set it up for themselves. Most of them are used to it and do a good job. However, there is occasionally the rogue musician who manages to crank his amp up to the point that he is stepping on all the other instruments.

I went to another bar after Northern Lights and the whole experience was so different. The band shoes play on a stage up front. But, there is a brick wall and a glass wall. The speakers are hung on the ceiling and are between. the musicians and the audience. All the seating is either under the speakers or behind the speakers. The bar and table seating go back for fifty feet. In order for the back to hear, the music is turned up. In the front, it is not bad if you can get to one of the tables under the speakers. With the music turned up and in the back it is so hard to hear any of the words of vocalists. Sometimes the music is distorted. If I’m in the middle, I usually leave once my headache starts or go outside for a breather.

So what I’m trying to say is that no matter how great the music may be if it is not played well to the room it is lost.

Dog Walking Her Owner at Park

20140520-121957-44397153.jpg

Yesterday I dutifully went to the park to walk my dog. She wasn’t having it. She had ideas of her own. The walk is a little over a mile and it started out well.

20140520-122143-44503986.jpg

We started along the path on a beautiful sunny day. On weekdays,the park is relatively empty and there were very few dogs. So Bonnie(the dog) decided to look for other entertainment. After attempting to chase squirrels, she realized being on a leash did not facilitate chasing squirrels. So, she decided to checkout the stream. I went along for the ride.

20140520-122629-44789231.jpg
I decided not to walk across the stream on the log. Bonnie was disappointed. But, never mind, there were other areas to explore.

20140520-122831-44911428.jpg
We heard ducks here and never saw them. From the pile of old logs in the stream, I though there might be some animals in there. Bonnie looked for the ducks. Some times, she held her nose in the air sniffing all the new and different smells in the park.
I was tired after the loop and Bonnie wanted to continue. This may be an ongoing theme. The vet told me to take her for more walks to relieve her arthritis and she is getting better each day.

Northern Lights Lounge on May 14, 2014

20140519-100918-36558043.jpg

Last Wednesday night I went to Northern Lights Lounge to see the Mike Jellick Trio. And Mike was in New York replaced by Zion Israel. I was a bit disappointed. So, I decided to make it a little adventure and ordered the “Lava Wings”. I had been disappointed at another restaurant with the hot wing recently and remembered seeing this one on the menu. The best part is that appetizers are half off the price on Wednesday night.

20140519-101521-36921066.jpg

The wings were hot and tasty. The blue cheese dressing cuts the heat just enough. And the wings were good. They were done without being dried out. My mouth had a flood of heat cooled by the rich taste of chunky blue cheese dip.

20140519-102208-37328368.jpg
Left to right: Zion Israel, Miles Brown and Jesse Kramer.

About half way through the set, I got over my snit and was able to listen to the music. It was so different than what I had been expecting. I was so good in its own way though. I was fully won over by the last tune of “Caravan”.

A Fictional Look Back

20140411-223113.jpg

My seasonal job is preparing taxes. I hear a lot of things and I keep it confidential. But, there are times when I look at a client and think, what if… The following is a fictional account of a tax interview.

Ms. Renee Dupuis in the chair opposite me to have her taxes done. The person who has done her taxes before was not available so she had to take someone new to her. The preparer was experienced but, Ms. Dupuis wanted to make sure and asked her some questions. Finally satisfied, the preparer was allowed to start the return.

As usual, the talk was more than just taxes. Ms. Dupuis was born in France and preparer was planning on a trip to France. They talked a little about the Musée D’ Orsay and all the great impressionist art in the museum. They compared the cathedral at Chartres to the Notre Dame and agreed that the hand carving at Chartres deserves more attention then it gets. Ms. Dupuis mentioned that four Catholic churches in her area were closing. Her church was closing and at 73 she did not want to make a change to a new church. She decided to attend one of the churches that was not one that was designated.

She began talking about a family reunion she had missed in Paris a few years ago. One of her teenage ‘crushes’ said he had missed seeing her at the reunion in an email brimming with passion.

She had missed the reunion due to a surgery and when she recovered, she visited him in France where they had a torrid, passionate affair. The preparer kept typing tax information into the computer and occasionally asked a question. Although the question were about taxes, Ms. Dupuis answered the questions and continued with her story. Her friend had visited Detroit where the affair continued with the same enthusiasm. Unfortunately, he was married.

The preparer sneaked a glance at Ms. Dupuis. She had a smile on her face as she recounted the events. After he we not back to France, she went to confession and promised not to do it again. And she didn’t with him. She began to tell the preparer about the wonderful gentleman friend in her apartment complex.

Van Cephus Tribute

20140404-125833.jpg

Last night I went to a tribute for Van Cephus (Ce’ phus… Accent on the first syllable ) at Bert’s Jazz Room in Detroit. I met a friend about 7:00p.m. and we got good seats and had dinner before the tribute started. Van died on March 18, 2014.

His life had been going in a downward spiral. He was a well known jazz musician in the area who played in local clubs and churches. Recently with a change in pastor, one of his church jobs was over. For others reasons, he lost his other church job. So, his economic reality was getting worse. He was notified by the county that his house was going to be taken for back taxes. On Friday, March 14, the county bailiffs placed a dumpster on his lawn. He was able to remove some of his things and got friends to help move things to other places for storage. The following Monday, the bailiffs came back and began to move his life belongings to the dumpster. He stood on the lawn watching. The following day he took his own life in a hotel room.

Of course, this is the short version. So many people got up last night and spoke so well about Van. Most had talked to him within the last month. Many said looking backwards they could see the signs. Some thought they could have done more. They all said they did not know how bad it was for Van. And he did not tell anyone of his plans although people are reading his posts on Facebook now and seeing the signs.

His Homegoing is today. Maybe people will take care of each other in the future better.

20140404-131905.jpg

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?

Back to the Cadieux Cafe

20140330-235108.jpg

This afternoon after work, I watched my dog Bonnie in the backyard checking the perimeter of the yard making sure that no intruders had arrived during the long winter. She barked periodically letting all the dogs in hue he neighborhood know she was out and about again. We both had an early dinner. Her dinner was different than mine.

Then, I decided to go to the Cadieux Cafe for the Hughes/Smith Quintet. It is quite a long drive. I have a new car and now I can be confident that I will reach my destination. The car has a great sound system (a necessity for someone who likes music as much as I do). With my old car, my hiatus also meant I did not go out for music much.

The show was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. So I arrived at about 8:45 p.m. And there was no band set up. They did get it all set up in record time so the actual start time was 8:55 p.m. The waiter came by and asked I of I wanted the usual which is hot wings and club soda with lime for this place. And it was just what I wanted. He was back within a minute telling me there were no more wings. I looked at the menu and while I was still pondering, he came back and said they had found some wings that were not the usual wings but they were wings.

For the next few minutes, I listened to the music. The group was James Hughes(saxes), Jimmy Smith(tpt), Phil Kelly(keys), Takashi Io(bass) and Pete Siers(drums). They are all good players and this was the first time I had heard some of them.

The first set consisted entirely of compositions by either Smith or Hughes. This puts me in an unusual place mentally. It means I do no know what to expect on any of the numbers. There is no comparison available. I really do like a mix of originals and standards.

My wings came. The hot sauce on the wings had the great sweet heat I was expecting. The chunky blue cheese dipping sauce was a savory and flavorful. The wings were not good. They seemed to have a glob of fat on each one. It got so I was a trying to find it and remove it before biting into the wing to avoid the ball of fat. I began to wonder if they were chicken wings and my imagination took off. Perhaps they were pidgeon wings or maybe partridge or what could they be? I didn’t finish them.

I can say I liked the music probably since it was a traditional format. I moved to get a little closer. Also, the people next to me were talking and the guy likes to pontificate in lengthy detail everything he knows about jazz. The numbers were different depending on the composer either Smith or Hughes. Smith tended to have more pronounced rhythms and Hughes was more melodic. I did especially like Hughes composition called Waltz for Anna.

I left after the set and listened to Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” on the way home on the incredible audio system in my car,