Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Redneck Special

A woman walks in to a bar for a Brazilian.

My neighborhood joint, Bistro 27, has started doing Brazilian nights on Tuesday.

That means that the Brazilian chef now gets to make some of his favorite soul food one night a week.

Soon, they're going to add live music to make it even more fun.

Tonight I found a seat at the bar and was soon joined by another regular.

He made a point to tell me that he used to be a timid eater, but Chef Carlos had gotten him to try all kinds of oddities, things like hearts and tripe.

He was almost bragging, I think.

Chef explained that the two dishes he'd made were essentially Brazilian redneck food and with them, he was pouring Portuguese wines.

Praise the lord and pass the pork.

The wine was Vega Douro, a tasty red table wine that only got better the longer it was open.

Or maybe that was just the longer I stayed.

My first course was two little fried meat pies of ground beef and spices, served with a saffron aioli and mesclun.

I could already tell I'd make a fine Brazilian redneck.

While eating those, a couple more guys showed up at the bar, one from Philly and one from London, so all kinds of conversational opportunities opened up.

We found out the Englishman had been at 27 last night and come back tonight for another kosher meal, his main requirement.

The Philly guy was in town for less than 24 hours on business and after ten minutes talking to our little group, was convinced he'd found the best possible restaurant he could have landed in.

With a gregarious talker like Carlos ("My food is good and I have an accent!"), he was probably right.

Just about the time a New York businessman joined the bar, I got my next redneck plate.

This one was pork short ribs and Chorizo in a Brazilian stew kind of sauce, with a grits-like component and, most brilliant of all, barely wilted collards, served with rice.

It was served with a small mound of yucca flour so you could thicken the sauce if you wanted to.

The rich sauce, with its palm oil and coconut milk, coated the ribs I ate with my fingers, although they were falling off the bone so I suppose I could have used a fork.

As if.

But it was the thinly-sliced wilted collards that added so much to the overall taste.

The contrast of the long-cooked meat and fresh, vibrant-tasting, barely-cooked collards was sublime.

Holmes was meeting me at 27, having made it through tax season without killing a single client, and he was ready to celebrate the end of his crushing busy period.

I'd cleared the decks for him for the main part of my evening.

It took no time at all to convince him to join me in Brazilian food and Portuguese wine.

He also jumped right into the five-way chatter, weighing in on every topic bandied about and coming up with a few of his own.

He's good that way.

A restaurateur from Virginia Beach replaced a couple of the out-of-towners when they had to return to their hotels to get some shut-eye before another big day in the business world.

Soon after her came her beloved, celebrating his birthday and eager to talk about what a pain it had been getting into Richmond from Maryland tonight.

I quickly shifted the conversation to music and everyone's first show (the newcomer's had been Bachman-Turner Overdrive, oh my!) and things got looser.

Holmes and I knocked back a chocolate mousse (causing me to feel a bit guilty when his girlfriend called from her sick bed and he told her what he was doing) before I had to go.

I invited Holmes to join me for music at Strange Matter, but  he was too tired from the past two weeks of work hell to manage it.

I thanked him for his sparkling company and headed west to Strange Matter, arriving just in time for Australia-via-London quartet, Splashh.

After a terrific meal sucking bones and savoring collards, nothing could have suited me better than the sunny, garage pop of these four guys.

Turns out this is their first time in the U.S., so Richmond got to show them what American audiences are like.

They were apparently already enjoying our whiskey.

With the band spewing out infectious, boppy songs that made it impossible to stand still, I have to hope they saw us unable to resist their effects-laden guitars and aura of major fun, AKA, a great, music-loving audience.

I could easily see them headlining before long.

The main event was Generationals, a band from New Orleans, and the reason I'd worn my "Rebuild New Orleans" shirt to the show.

Their sound check took forever it seemed, but that gave the late-coming crowd time to arrive and grab a beer and fill up the space in front of the stage.

"Have you heard our record, Heza?" they asked of the crowd, who clapped and yelled to say they had. "We really appreciate you being here on a Tuesday. There's a lot of stuff you could be doing instead. Like Netflix and stuff."

Please, don't remind them.

The band's breezy guitar pop lacked the sass of Splashh, but the songs were strong, the execution good and they seemed genuinely happy to be playing for us.

They mixed it up, doing songs from "Heza" as well as what they called "oldies, but goodies," meaning stuff off their 2009 and 2011 albums.

Wow, that is old.

Clearly they knew they were dealing with a young audience, as when they asked, "You guys remember the '90s? Some of you were probably born in the '90s!"

And while I was old-school enough to just stand back and enjoy their hooky, little songs, some of those '90s babies had other ideas.

Between songs, a girl handed one of the guitarists her phone, squealing, "I'm face-timing Olivia at William and Mary!"

To their credit, the band took the phone and talked at it, presumably to a dumbstruck Olivia who, despite repeated entreaties, never said a word back.

"I'm pretty sure this could never have happened at another time," the guitarist said, passing the phone on to the other guitarist before returning it to its owner.

Personally, I had no use for Olivia or her friend too busy face-timing to just enjoy a good show on a Tuesday night.

Must be a generational thing.

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