De Puta Madre

I love using greens as wraps. Healthier than your usual tortilla or pita varietal. No need to worry about carbs, get a valuable dose of fiber and a nice pop of color to boot. For delicate fillings, I traditionally use artisan romaine or even Bibb lettuce. When I need a more heavy duty wrapper, I seek out collard greens. Swiss chard is a nice, sturdy option too. The leaves of collards are heftier than most and thanks to large surface area, can hold a fair amount of goodies. When it’s time to set up a serious assembly line, I always reach for these. Hanging tough.

Many recipes speak to removing veins and blanching collard greens in hot water before transporting them to a bowl of cold water and finally laying them out on a sheet with ample paper towels to dry. I think this is hog wash. I love to eat them raw. Simply remove the stem and if you want to devein the interior, knock yourself out. Please note that I never do this. I take the bunch, thoroughly rinse them, cut off the end stalks where they meet the leaves and throw them on a plate and get to wrapping. Perfect instead of bread for sandwiches and equally fab for wrapping burgers.

In 2002, when living in Dusseldorf, I was introduced to a Latin rock band from Spain, Jarabe de Palo. We listened to them regularly back in the day. La Flaca, Grita. In fact, they were the go to background music for most meals, dinner parties and soirees. One of their songs, Quítame La Vida, has been on my iPod running rotation for the greater part of a decade.  Every time I hear the song, I am transported back to my time living overseas. In fact, when I first heard it, I committed an afternoon to writing out the lyrics in Spanish, which I kept on hand for some time. What a nerd. My brother Keith, who attended the Frankfurt International School his junior and senior year, informed me via text that Romeo Y Julieta was the national anthem of his final year of high school. We Breyer siblings clearly share outstanding taste in music. I am sure Keith will disagree here. About six weeks ago, when reviewing my regular music venue act announcement that I receive via email,  I was elated to learn that Jarabe de Palo was coming to Charlotte. No need to check the calendar with Matthew, we were going. 

So on the afternoon of the show, I decided a quick dinner would suit our timing best. I prepared our wrap bar and we ate standing at the kitchen counter. The carrot ginger dressing that follows ignited the meal. It is a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe and let me tell you folks, it is incredible. Off the chain, out of sight, outstanding, the you-know-what. Pay close attention to the directions, don't skimp on the ginger, pour the dressing in a Mason jar and I dare you to see how long it lasts. Over impromptu salads, as a dipping sauce for crudités, alongside hanger steak and I even caught someone sticking their finger directly into the jar. Guilty. After our delectable bites, we headed to NODA, found a parking lot to dump the car, grabbed a beer at Solstice and then made our ways into the Neighborhood Theatre. The intimate crowd comprised the city’s Spanish contingent and I knew we were in for an unforgettable night.  We posted up approximately ten feet away from the stage, grabbed our libations and eagerly waited for the show to begin.

Jarabe de Palo was spectacular. They played many if not most of the songs with which I am familiar and then some. Their music filled the venue for nearly three hours and in between songs, the lead singer spoke exclusively in Spanish to his adoring audience. A couple of observations from the evening that stood out. Number one, the lead singer, a very cool rock star who donned a sleeveless t-shirt, old jeans and fantastic green Doc Martins affectionately blew kisses to his audience. The gal next to me was eager to grab them. I joined in for good measure. In the second hour of the show, a young man was invited on stage. Within moments, he pulled his nervous albeit adorable girlfriend on stage. We were all clueless. Within moments, he took a knee. The crowd went wild. She was stunned of course but her jumping indicated an enthusiastic acceptance. I adore the fact that Jarabe means so much to this couple that the novio would propose on stage. During the latter part of the show, a young man in a wheel chair was carried on stage where he remained for the rest of the show. I shared this endearing story with my brother who had a similar one at an Action Bronson show at Coachella last year. He is returning again this year. And renting a house for the week to boot. Lucky guy.

When the music stopped and the musicians disappeared I asked Matthew, will there be an encore? Within seconds, the crowd began to cheer and shout “otra, otra”. Jarabe returned and once again, brought down the house. The very next morning I promptly signed into iTunes and procured the remaining albums not yet in our portfolio. Lo que es un espectáculo. Oh what a night.

Carrot Ginger Dressing
Adapted from It’s All Good 

Off to the Grocer We Go

4 large carrots - roughly chopped
1 shallot - peeled and chopped
1/4 ginger - peeled and chopped - this is around 5 inches
2 TBS miso paste
2 TBS honey
2 TBS sesame oil
1/4 rice vinegar
1/4 water
1/2 cup grapeseed oil - this is also fabulous for your skin!
A pinch of kosher salt
A couple of cracks of fresh pepper

Elbow Grease

Puree everything in whatever you usually use to puree. Because I am wholly deprived, I did not puree mine in a Vitamix. I instead used my Cuisinart, which did the trick beautifully. Use this to dress any and everything!

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