Last night we attended the Thirteen Strings Gala Concert at the National Gallery of Canada. This evening was the debut for Kevin Mallon as their new conductor and Artistic Director. Joining the orchestra for the gala performance was the Oliver Jones Trio, starring the legendary jazz pianist, Oliver Jones, Eric Lagacé on bass and Jim Doxas on drums.

The programme was a fusion of Jazz and Classical and they delivered flawlessly on pieces by Holst, Gershwin, Jones himself and Oscar Peterson. Mallon’s Irish charm (born in the US but raised in Belfast) shone through as he engaged in a tête-à-tête regularly with Jones throughout the evening. Jones aptly returned Mallon’s volley of disclosing questions with heartfelt stories of his life. We were given an insight into Oliver the musician, Oliver the man, Oliver the Canadian and good friend to Oscar Peterson. Their comfortable dialogue made you feel like you were sitting with them in your living room. A treat to be included in their presence.

The encore was a repeat of the opening piece, Embraceable You, a George & Ira Gershwin favourite. A repeat for an encore? Who does that? Well this time around, the Trio performed with Thirteen Strings and Kevin Mallon let his vocal chords loose, breaking into song! The crowd was not only surprised,but downright delighted. More of that living room feeling coming through again.


Legendary jazz pianist, Oliver Jones (a young 75 years old); a special person in my life; my special person’s friend!; Kevin Mallon, new conductor and Artistic Director of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

So what does any of this have to do with Quick Caesar Salad? Well, we knew that there would be some pre- and post-show nibbles in the Gallery’s Water Court Foyer, but it would not be too classy to go at the buffet with the intent of filling a suppertime hunger, especially with young people in tow. So we took a pause in the late afternoon to have our version of Quick Caesar Salad. It did the trick and kept us on our best behaviour!

QUICK CAESAR SALAD

head of romaine lettuce
caesar salad dressing
lemon juice
garlic
bacon
croutons
parmigiano-reggiano
freshly ground black pepper

To make croutons (which we did last night), we cut up bread into cubes (I had a stash of slices of whole wheat baguette in the freezer), drizzled with olive oil to coat, fresh minced garlic and a wee, wee pinch of salt. They only take 15 minutes in a 350ºF oven, stirring once halfway.

Meanwhile we prepared the head of lettuce (a great looking head that we found at Produce Depot earlier in the week). We also have cooked bacon in the freezer on hand when the need arises. We took 3 slices and crumbled and sprinkled on top.

When we do a ‘quick’ caesar and there is no time for a homemade dressing, we use a store bought variety like Renée’s. But we find the consistency is way too thick so we really thin it out with lemon juice and then we bump up the garlic factor by adding a big freshly minced clove of garlic.

The dish was then rounded out with a handsome contribution of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

We are quite lucky to have the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra here in town. Consider coming out to one of their 6 performances in their upcoming season.

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