Tasty Texas Tribute To Jackie Cain

September 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

One frosty winter night in Montcalir, N.J., many years ago, HG/BSK (and family) joined their friends, the great jazz duo Jackie Cain and Roy Kral (plus their daughter, Dana) for ice skating on the frozen pond in the center of town. BSK and Roy were graceful skaters, HG was a klutz. Everyone else displayed moderate skills. Lots of laughs as appetites were sharpened under the starry suburban skies. Apres skate, the group gathered around the Cain/Kral dining table for a perfect winter dish–steaming bowls of Texas chile. The hungry folk topped their bowls with grated cheddar cheese and chopped raw onion. The fiery heat of the chile peppers was tamped down with some dollops of sour cream. Jackie confessed that the secret of the chili (best HG had ever tasted) was the use of Wick Fowler 2-Alarm Chili Mix. It was the only packaged mix that Jackie ever allowed in her home. The mix included numerous packages–chile powder, sage, super-hot cayenne pepper, masa flour, oregano, paprika, garlic, salt. These ingredients were added to two pounds of browned ground beef, a can of Ro-Tel (or canned tomatoes) and two cans of water. A half hour (or a bit more) of simmering and you had a noble Texas treat. According to chili history, Wick Fowler in 1967, won the first world chili cook-off. The event was held in Terlingua, Texas, and the Chili Mix company was born soon after. Roy Kral died in 2002. Jackie died last week in the Montclair home where we first tasted her (and Wick Fowler’s) chili. So, here in New Mexico, HG/BSK (and granddaughter Beautiful Sofia R.) paid tribute to HG/BSK’s dear friend and lovely artist of song: Jackie and Roy cd’s were on the Bose. Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chile was on the table. A bittersweet occasion as rollicking times were recalled and toasts were drunk to Jackie. Happily, her voice filled the room with its essence of champagne bubbles (SJ’s memory) and eternal spring.


Jackie’s Gone.

September 19th, 2014 § 5 comments § permalink

New York 1953 or 1954. HG was combining two careers: journalist and night club (mostly jazz joints) press agent. HG was press agent for the short lived midtown Clique Club where the late Sammy Benskin, a superb jazz pianist and an HG pal, was headlining with his trio. Sammy called HG and told him to get down to the club the next night when a vocal duo, Jackie and Roy, would be making a guest appearance. You will be blown away, promised Sammy. And, so it came to pass. They did “Mountain Greenery” and it was a revelation. Did their takes on some standards and the tunes became as fresh as a Spring morning. How to describe Jackie’s voice? Champagne bubbles. A mountain stream. Silver. Warm, glowing verbal precision with the earthy hint of her Midwestern accent. No, words aren’t ample, HG was surprised at the couple’s appearance. Jazz performers either wore outlandish clothes (women in super snug “mermaid” gowns) or were drug addled and unkempt. Handsome Roy Kral looked like an Ivy League fashion plate and beautiful Jackie Cain wore tweeds. Yes, tweeds. Not sequins. The two best looking people in the jazz world. (No need to recount their career. The NY Times and LA times had good, accurate obituaries of Jackie this week). Listened to their albums but never saw them again until Fire Island in the 60’s. Jackie and Roy were beach neighbors and HG/BSK formed a close friendship that lasted through Roy’s death in 2002 and Jackie’s death this week. When HG/BSK moved to Montclair, NJ. in the 70’s, Jackie and Roy soon followed (and that’s where Jackie died). So many joyous memories. And, some tragic ones. Their strikingly beautiful daughter, Niki, died in an automobile accident. Jackie and Roy were wonderful to our children. Jackie, who had an ethereal beauty, was a surprisingly robust cook in the Czech/Polish tradition. Our families ate, drank, played and laughed together for many decades. Now, Jackie’s gone. Another bright light from HG’s life has been dimmed. Permit HG to share a memory: Roy once recalled that the first time he accompanied Jackie was at a Chicago night club. Jackie was 18 and fresh out of high school. Roy was reluctant. Didn’t think much of girl singers. She changed his mind. Jackie sang that great Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg song: “Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe.” Said Roy: “The place went nuts.” Years later, at an HG birthday dinner, sang the song (unaccompanied) as a birthday treat. HG went nuts.


BSK Had A Taste For It

May 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s dear friend Jackie Cain (one half of the marvelous jazz vocal and music duo of Jackie and Roy) has always looked beautiful and slightly ethereal but her tastes in food are robust. Cooked some powerful Polish and Czech specialties for her husband and musical partner, the late Roy Kral, and fortunate HG/BSK. While presenting a lush platter of long cooked spicy beef (or pork), puddles of spicy gravy and nicely absorbent dumplings, Jackie would say: “I just had a taste for it.” If it were a lush and savory noodle kugel (or the Polish equivalent of the dish), Jackie would introduce with the same words: “I just had a taste for it.” A few years ago, BSK enjoyed a hearty bowl of deeply spiced short ribs and soba noodles swimming in a fragrant broth. It was a temporary offering at Bones, the very good Asian fusion restaurant in Denver. Well, it seems that the dish had been haunting BSK. So, BSK did some intensive research (no recipe available at Bones) and found an approximation in the archives of Food & Wine Magazine. The dish, “Five-Spice Short Ribs With Udon Noodles,” is fairly labor intensive but BSK was up to the task. Chinese five-spice powder, garlic, thyme, red wine, chicken stock, ginger, celery, carrots, onions, daikon, mushrooms and konbu were involved. Meaty short ribs were browned and then simmered. Finally, the bowls of meat, noodles and vegetables were topped with poached eggs. Spectacular dish. Layers and layers of flavors. Exotic and earthy. HG expressed fervent gratitude. Said BSK: “I just had a taste for it.”


Inappropriate, Yet Delicious, Summer Feasts

July 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, in the sultry heat of summer, HG, like many other folks, prefers lightly fried, sauteed or steamed fish; also salads, fresh vegetables and fruits. Clams, scallops, mussels, shrimp and lobster go hand-in-hand with the summer months. Plus oysters ( eating oysters only in months with an “R” is not applicable on far north Prince Edward Island). However, there were two summer feasts — totally delicious and totally inappropriate for the season — that remain prominent in HG’s culinary memory bank. They were prepared by two very different people — Rex Reed and Andre Reudi. Rex Reed, an urbane television personality and newspaper arts/theater/music critic, was on Fire Island, the colorful barrier beach off Long Island, New York, where HG/BSK had summer homes for many years. Rex was visiting HG/BSK’s dear friends, the inimitable jazz duo, Jackie and Roy. Blazing hot day in August. Temperature in the 90’s. Rex prepared dinner, drawing upon his southern roots. A long cooked piece of roast beef liberally sprinkled with Cajun spices. The beef swam in a lake of dark brown, winey, spicy gravy. It was accompanied by super buttery mashed potatoes and slices of Wonder bread (to soak up any excess gravy). Reed baked lemon meringue pie. Every bit of the meal was consumed. With joy.

Andre Reudi, a Swiss nudist-futurist, prepared his memorable meal on a blazing June day some 50 years ago, just weeks before HG/BSK married. En route to Fire Island in their 1960 Cadillac, HG/BSK picked up Andre at the great Upper East Side German butcher shop, Schaller and Weber. Reudi had picked up a pork knuckle, sausages, sauerkraut, lentils, beer, pumpernickel bread, pickles, three kinds of mustard and Liederkranz cheese. All were loaded in an ice filled cooler. Upon arrival at HG/BSK’s home, the pork knuckle, sausages, lentils, sauerkraut, dark beer and some unidentifiable spices were dumped in a big pot. The oven was turned to a low heat. And, there the robust German stew simmered all day while HG/BSK played on the beach, body surfed in the ocean and gathered beach glass in walks by the shore. After the sun had set and pre-dinner Martinis (wine for BSK) were drunk, the pot was removed from the stove and ravenous HG/BSK and Reudi fell upon food. Absolutely Fabulous feast.


University Place Free Association Part III: Bradley Cunningham

June 10th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Bradley’s, the intimate bar, restaurant and music venue on University Place, encouraged many HG and BSK smiles. It was small — 15 tables and 20 bar stools. The food — steaks and hamburgers — was honest and good; the music, however, was great. On a platform was a baby grand piano (contributed to Bradley Cunningham, the proprietor, by the great saxaphonist, Paul Desmond). The world’s greatest jazz pianists (sometimes accompanied by a bass) played there. Tommy Flanagan, Teddy Wilson, Jimmy Rowles and Kenny Barron were among them. Bradley made sure it was an orderly room where artistry could be appreciated and heard. (There was also some nice visual art in the room — three BSK acrylics were among the paintings over the bar). Bradley was a big, craggy- faced, ruggedly handsome guy (died of lung cancer in 1988). He was interesting. A fine amateur pianist and an appreciator of good writing and a true lover of New York. Served as a Marine in World War Two, learned Japanese and used that skill to talk Japanese soldiers out of indefensible bunkers and later interrogate them. He had witnessed much horror. He was in Nagasaki soon after its atomic bombing. Bradley and his friends, the great vocal and piano duo of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral (Jackie still performs occasionally. Roy died a few years ago) rented a Fire Island house near HG/BSK’s dune house and became dear friends of HG and BSK. HG encouraged Jackie and Roy to buy a house in Montclair, N.J., where HG lived. They did and HG and BSK would often drive into New York for an evening at Bradley’s or meet there late at night after theater or movies. Bradley married Wendy, the beautiful, long time waitress. HG and BSK joined Jackie and Roy at the wedding at a West Village church and had a celebratory meal at Leon Lianides’s Coach House House Restaurant on Waverley Place. Much joy. After Bradley’s death, Wendy kept his place alive until the final closing in 1996. Stanley Crouch wrote a lovely piece about Bradley’s in the New Yorker (Aug. 26, 1996). When Bradley was still alive, the jazz writer and critic, Whitney Baillet, did a full length profile of him in the New Yorker. You can access both pieces from the New Yorker archives. Do so.


Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Jackie And Roy at HUNGRY GERALD.