I, actually, did not come up with this one. My friend, Erin B, runs her own business that teaches ballroom dancing in people's homes (www.startdancingnyc.com), so she invited me and a few other friends to tag along yesterday morning to a Bossa Nova Brunch. She wanted some company to check out a new place to take her students for a night or afternoon out on the town and I, I must admit, was curious about a bossa nova band. Now, all I knew previous to this brunch about the bossa nova was that it was a "rhythm key" on the casio keyboard I had growing up. Yes, I do know that it's a type of music, but I am, by no means, a bossa nova expert. I figured I could learn a bit, collect something to blog about, and grab an egg white omelette along the way.
For those of you that don't know, the bossa nova is a type of Brazilian music that was popularized by Antonio Carlos Jobim (thanks, wikipedia). Apparently, there was a bossa nova movement that occurred from 1958-1963 (who knew?) that was the origin of more than a few songs that we hear in today's jazz repertoire. Okie dokie. I headed downtown after church to check it out. SOB's (don't ask me what that stands for) is on the corner of Varick and Houston and calls itself the "home of universal music". I saw advertisements for Brazilian, Haitian, Reggae, South Asian, and Urban hip-hop bands and made a mental note to check out the evening performances for the future. For brunch, it was part dance club, part restaurant, part theatre and when we walked into the venue, a little part Brazil. There were projected palm trees swaying on the walls, the tables were covered with palm tree motif tablecloths and turquoise napkins, and time seemed to slow down to a pace that could only exist south of the equator. We checked our coats, sat at the table and were immediately offered sangria. Before water. Fabulous. Bossa nova brunch is a $27 three course prix fixe that includes unlimited sangria, so we shrugged and partook. The band was on a break, so I took a moment to check out the menu. No omelettes for me. The menu, much like the decor, was very Brazilian. Ipanema steak and eggs, feijoada, bahi chicken salad, jalapeno sirloin, and ginger lime snapper cooked in banana leaf. Wow. This was WAY better than an omelette. I decided on the snapper and started to check out the crowd. The crowd, I thought, was even more interesting than the menu. I have never been in a more diversely attended restaurant. I felt very cool.
Erin B and the rest of our party arrived just as the band struck up their first tune. The Nanny Assis Trio was charmingly cool and quickly made me a bossa nova fan. The smooth legato melody juxtaposed with the relaxed but distinct beat perfectly complimented my spicy yet tropical fish. Erin B closed her eyes as the trio struck up another tune. "The Girl From Ipanema is the most well known bossa nova", she said, "It's just so sexy. It makes me want to strut". I closed my eyes as well. Maybe I didn't want to strut, but the lull of the music was definitely sexy. Sexy, but composed and not overtly sexy. I guessed south of the equator sexy. I said that it made me want to dance and Erin B offered to teach me a rhumba, but I opted to save my rhumba-learning for a more private setting. Instead, we chatted about the western movement of world power (I love my smart friends) as the lead singer directed a string of love songs towards our table (the only table in the joint comprised of all women). We giggled, sipped from our ever-full sangria, sampled coconut-laced tropical slaw, decided that he didn't play for our team, and giggled some more.
By the time we were served dessert, we didn't really mind that it was pretty bad. The banana empanadas tasted like something out of the pastry case at Pax and the flan, as Erin so eloquently put it, reminded her of cold flesh. The rest of the meal was fabulous and we were all pretty full anyway, so we watched Erin H deconstruct her empanadas and swayed to some more bossa nova. It's rare in this city that a group of friends can get together and enjoy a time spent without an agenda or a time limit. This was brunch as brunch should be. Relaxed and delicious. Friends lingering over good food, good conversation, and collecting stores of happiness for the upcoming week.