Kaleisia’s Reopening, a Tofu Banh Mi and Pickled Pieces of Dezi Paige, Rah Rah, Catch Wild and Conner Youngblood
On July 27th Kaleisia Tea Lounge (here) wrote on their facebook page that they would be closing early for a private event. Turns out that private event was a move from one location to another. For one week Tampa tea addicts had to purchase inferior product from lesser places. This past Saturday the tea lounge reopened for business. The new location is more spacious, clean and private. It is brighter, has two bathrooms instead of one and includes a bigger kitchen area. This means a more expansive menu. Along with menu stalwarts such as Vegan Spring Rolls, Edmame, Hummus & Pita Chips, Pumpkin Coconut Soup and Asian Noodles patrons can now purchase Paninis (I tried the Veggini which was amazing), set plates, a second style of spring roll and a Cranberry-Walnut Salad. Only one thing was noticeably missing. Their weekend offering of a Vegan Banh Mi Sandwich.
Banh Mi Sandwiches were born out of French Colonialism in Indochina. It traditionally contains Vietnamese style ingredients (hot peppers, pickled carrots) served on a French Baguette. While a number of Tampa food trucks and restaurants serve a version of the Banh Mi, most contain pork as their filling. Kaleisia was the first place I frequented that offered a tofu version. I remember my first bite like it was yesterday (it was actually last fall because I had a pumpkin latte in my other hand). The juicy warmth of the tofu, the crustiness of the bread which spilled down my shirt and all over J-Fur’s car, the spice of the peppers and the pickled carrots combined to create unique flavorings that my tongue had never experienced before. I had to put the sandwich down and recover from the tingling that seemed to be spreading from my taste buds to my toes. Even before a second bite, I knew I would be making this sandwich at home.
Thanks to the website Battle of the Banh Mi, my job recreating the sandwich at home was a cinch. The site includes a “How-To” section specifically for making your own vegetarian tofu lemongrass sandwich and a link that lists typical condiments. My first homemade Banh Mi contained lemongrass tofu (I followed the recipe except I left out the salt figuring the soy sauce was enough), pickled carrots and daikon. This combo was way too salty for my liking. The next version I made included lemongrass tofu, carrots and cucumber (pictured at the top). It was exactly what I was looking for. After cashing my supply of French bread, I still had some lemongrass tofu basting in my fridge so I made a third Banh Mi and put it in a wrap (which technically wouldn’t be a Banh Mi but screw it, who’s keeping score). This sandwich contained lemongrass tofu, carrots, cucumber, avocado and lime drizzled tomatoes in a whole wheat wrap. In order to keep the spirit of a regular Banh Mi I topped the wrap with French’s mustard (the French and Vietnamese combo was alive and kicking). Mot loai keo deo.
The French and Vietnamese sort of collaborated on the Banh Mi (I mean Colonialism wasn’t much of a collaboration now was it?). A strange email the other day caused me to do some collaboration of my own as it pertains to Dezi Paige. A blog in Canada, Holliwud, that I had never heard of emailed me and said in the body:
A few days ago, we received a VERY GOOD submission that we subsequently reviewed. It featured production from Troy NoKA & sounded like an indie pop soul mashup between The Antlers, Metric & Alicia Keys. We NEVER contact other sites to share content but thought highly enough of this to recommend it…
Even my email account found this weird and it immediately shipped it to the spam folder. Thankfully I came across it and gave Dezi’s stuff a listen. Check out “Lost Angels”:
Rah Rah’s new single “Art and a Wife” wasn’t immediately interesting to me. It has its fair share of poppy upbeat moments, particularly in the chorus, but the rhymes seemed a bit trite. Then I got to the 2:20 mark. All of a sudden those rhymes were replaced by black magic in which Janis Joplin’s vocals were forced through the throat of a wooden puppet sitting at the easel of a beleagured artist. Everything made sense. Rah Rah’s next album The Poet’s Dead is due out in the fall.
New Jersey’s Catch Wild are an alternative rock band that seems destined for mainstream success. Within seconds of turning on their single “Supersonic Flight” you can see the similarities to big time acts like Metric or Paramore. Not bad for a band that has recently released their debut album, Waking Up with Fire. The band’s debut video focuses primarily on their badass singer Jessica Rose who has a penchant for writhing against metal doors, performing in just a bra and wearing tight ass leather pants. I’m serious, I’m not even sure how she got those on.
Finally, the most Banh Mi worthy of the lot, is “The Warpath” by Conner Youngblood. Equal parts atmosphere and pop, ethereal and working class, native and transient “The Warpath” has trouble deciding if it wants to be electro or folk. So, it becomes both. Thus it resides in a place that few other songs can reach, one that envelopes you with a great deal of lethargy while simultaneously making you want to dance. With each dance step we draw closer to August 28th, the day Conner’s new album drops.