Archive for February, 2014


Chagall Bistro

This past Sunday, a Belgian couple we just met at the Museum of the Jewish Heritage concert, SYR and I, went to Chagall Bistro in Brooklyn’s Park Slope section (330 5th Avenue – on the corner of 5th Street – Brooklyn, NY 11215; Tel: 718.832.9777) for dinner. Walking into Chagall immediately took us to another time, another world, from Brooklyn’s Park Slope straight to old Paris. The ambiance was truly très authentique – a nice surprise – and the first of many more the evening had in store for us.



We started our repast with the Duck Pastilla


It came with crispy duck cigars with saffron, almond and date coulis. Full of flavor and seasoned just right!

We segued with Chef’s Terrines and Pâté, a rich assortment of duck rillette, chicken liver mousse, veal country pâté, cornichon jelly and basket of greens. The rich taste of these delights brought back memories of my travels through France, memories long forgotten.

But we were not done with the surprises… we followed with two orders of Chagall Duck, for the ladies, and two Specials for the men…


The Special consisted roasted rack of lamb, grilled basil focccaccia, parsnip mousseline, artickokes, tomato confit, thyme, sauteed natural jus. The lamb was tender, juicy and full of flavor, the foccaccia still warm from the oven – full of aroma and taste – the jus was better than any I ever tasted. The ladies couldn’t stop talking about the Chagall Duck, it became obvious we would have to taste it… Frankly, duck had never been a favorite of mine, but I’ll confess the Chagall Duck just became one.

We washed it down with a delicious 2013 Rashbi Malbec, from Argentina’s Mendoza region. Artgentina, it seems, is almost incapable of producing a bad Malbec, even in the case of an inexpensive one like this bottle. With plum and black currant on the palate, a hint of smokiness it left with a long finish, this young wine proved a perfect pairing for an exceptional dinner.


We crowned the meal with a Chocolate Mousse for my friend, two Capuccinos for the ladies, and a Crème Brûlée for me. My Belgian friend pronounced his mousse the best he ever had, my Crème Brûlée (I’m addicted to them!) certainly was the best I’ve ever had.

As the Belgian said when we were leaving, “After eating in great kosher restaurants all over France, who would have thought I’d get my best French meal in Brooklyn?” A great evening to be sure, nonetheless there was something that marred it for me… looking around the nearby tables and seeing other diners’ choices, made me wish I could have eaten more. Chef Jean Claude Teulade and his stuff have developed the art of French kosher cuisine to heretofore unparalleled levels, which leaves us with little choice but to go back again and again and again.



The Big Picture – David Krakauer at the Museum of The Jewish Heritage

Any great musician can play a piece of music and transport the listener to higher realms, but very few can make their instrument talk, cry, laugh, scream, whisper, all the while dancing up to the highest peaks of feelings, totally enwrapping the audience. David Krakauer is one of these incredibly few. The Museum of The Jewish Heritage presented, this past Sunday afternoon, a concert featuring clarinetist David Krakauer, violinist Sara Caswell, Sheryl Bailey and her electric guitar, Rob Schwimmer on keyboards, Mark Helias on contrabasss, and John Hadfield on drums and percussion, with special guest Alicia Krakauer – David’s daughter – giving a nice rendition of Funny Girl‘s People.

The program, The Big Picture, consisted of new arrangements of themes from movies portraying Jewish slices of life, such as: Fiddler on the RoofSophie’s ChoiceLife is BeautifulCabaretThe Producers, Funny GirlChariots of FireLenny and more. The visuals by Light of Day, enhanced the experience as they danced and reacted to the music.



David Krakauer has played every genre of music, in all the greatest stages here in the US and in Europe, leading his listeners to expect a lot; this performance was just one more testament to his mastery of and passion for the clarinet.


As a now amateur violinist (who 55 years ago – as a young boy – soloed with the orchestra of the OSSODRE in Montevideo, Uruguay), I was listening raptly to Sara Caswell, while her bow alternated from gentle to furious up and downs, as I was moved by her unquestioned virtuosity. I especially enjoyed the dialogues between her violin and David’s clarinet.


Sheryl Bailey‘s electric guitar moved seamlessly from elegant subtlety to furious attack, all coming together for a beautifully coherent weave of glorious sound, as in her rendition of Honeycomb, from Lenny.

Every member of the band managed to shine on his or her own, but… after the fourteen pieces on the program were done, David Krakauer played an incredible solo that showed his full understanding of the subtlest nuances of the clarinet’s sound; then, the whole band joined in for a superb piece that explored every facet of their artistry. Somehow, now at the end the cohesiveness of the group, their collective artistic soul shone through in all its beauty, in all its depth.

Kabbalists and Chassidic Masters wrote that the human soul does not speak with words, for words are limited and unable to express the full range of feelings in the totality of their power, instead the soul speaks with music – a niggun. The niggun may be sad or happy leaving the individual happy or sad, yet at the end one always feels differently about him/herself and the world around, one always feels cleansed. Being in the audience for this concert left my soul absolutely uplifted and cleansed.


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