Jun 19, 2009

Soule Restaurant: Soul Food

The New York Times recently featured a debate over where Soul Food originated; was it a black or white invention?

The term Soul Food emerged in the ‘60’s when soul became a popular adjective for African Americans; however, Soul Food boasts many cultural influences.

During the slavery era, slaves received weekly rations of cornmeal, meat scraps, and black molasses. By using fresh herbs, these rations were converted to flavorful dishes supplemented by gardens of indigenous African crops, including watermelon, sesame and okra.

Green leafy vegetables common in the African diet were substituted with discarded food from the plantation house; the tops of turnips and beets, as well as dandelions, collards, and kale.

Nothing was wasted on plantations. Leftover cornmeal from breading catfish was mixed with milk, egg and onion to make hush puppies.When house slaves entered plantation homes, their cooking options expanded for their masters’ tables. Fried chicken, sweet potatoes (prepared like the African yams), puddings and pies became typical southern fare.

Each state had its own cultural influences; a French accent came from Louisiana where gumbo with shellfish and okra evolved from bouillabaisse, and the Carolina’s Spanish culture introduced jambalaya and sausage. Escaped slaves who took refuge with Native Americans and were subsequently recaptured incorporated the Native American style as well.

Caribbean influences are also evident in southern cooking, adapted during the middle passage.

Today, Soul Food is used to describe a broad expanse of cuisine; ribs, barbecue, fried chicken, candied yams, greens, macaroni and cheese, peas and rice, okra and tomatoes, gumbo, jambalaya, cornbread grits… but they all have one thing in common. They will all make you salivate…

Soule Restaurant: Spotlight on ARUBA!

Aruba is a flat, riverless island known for its beautiful white sand beaches.

Originally colonized by Spain, it was acquired by the Dutch in 1636 and remains a Dutch colony today. Its climate is dry and hot, moderated by constant trade winds, and it’s located in the Caribbean Sea, just north of Venezuela. The ethnicity of the island is white/Amerindian; however, there are more than 40 different cultures among natives. The native language of Aruba is Papiamento, with elements of Dutch, Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, several different African languages, and Arawak Indian.

The majority of the land surrounding Aruba is untouched by humans, and has gained tremendous ecological appeal among tourists. Divi trees, native to Aruba, grow at a forty-five degree angle because of the constant trade winds. Lost tourists are told to follow the Divi trees, as they always point to the hotels.

Jun 18, 2009

Soule Restaurant: June... The Month for Weddings!

June... When the lazy days of summer really begin. Kids are playing, sandals and shades become commodities, and life is just... good. My only gripe? Weddings.

Don't shake your head at me-you know what I mean. It's a recession, people! And statistically, 37% of marriages end in divorce. That's more than a third, and almost half! Is it really worth the hassle and expense?

We're being hornswaggled, people! This wedding thing is a racket; a way to accumulate goods at the expense of your friends and loved ones. Well, I say, let's make a stand! We don't have to encourage this blatant misuse of friendship!


Clearly, I'm standing by myself. No, I'm not the grumpy, single chick, hating on "love". I'm happily single, thank you-and my status has absolutely nothing to do with my stance on this wedding racket.But fine. I'll humor you all. Another wedding, another $400 down the drain. I'll just make the most of it at the reception bar.

I have to admit, though-it is a nice reception. The hall is elegant, with subdued lighting and muted tones. The bride looks gorgeous and her husband is looking at her as if they've only just met. Can that really be sincere?

Brian McKnight sings about his Crazy Love as the husband and wife are announced. They opted for a DJ during dinner and a band afterwards, and this DJ can vibe.

What a spectacular floral arrangement! The entire wedding was arranged by JunePlumm Events, an amazing wedding planner whom I happen to know personally, so I'm not at all surprised by the elegance.

I love the wait staff. My glass hasn't been allowed to fall below the halfway mark all evening, and dinner was amazing. It began with delicious warm Corn Muffins with Pineapple Apricot Sauce and yummy Coconut Shrimp appetizers, followed by spicy Cajun Blackened Salmon with steamed Spinach and Seasoned Rice. (From Soulé, of course!)

I don't know how the tradition of tapping your glass with a knife became a signal for the bride and groom to kiss, but it's really not as annoying as I'd anticipated. Kind of sweet, actually; a musical chime followed by a pause and kiss. It seems like the bride and groom look forward to these interruptions... how odd.

They're dancing now; gazing into each other's eyes as if they're all alone. It's such a private moment, and yet, I don't feel as if I'm violating their privacy by watching.

Champagne goes to my head so quickly. I'm not even a tad self-conscious as I head to join everyone on the dance floor. The Electric Slide is so corny... and so much fun! We did another variation that was pretty cool as well: the Cha Cha Cha.

The wedding cake is magnificent. It's almost a shame to cut it, but cut it, we must. As the bride places the cake delicately into her husband's mouth, their eyes remain locked, ending only when she kisses away the icing on his lips. I just don't understand... how can they be surrounded by so many people and still keep having these private moments? Are they for real?


I guess it has to be attributed to... you know... don't make me say it... (groan)


Okay, time for the bride to throw the bouquet. I'm not going out there. Yes, I'm single, but I don't want to catch it, so why bother? Okay, okay... just to be a good sport.


You know, maybe it's a racket, and maybe it's not. But I can kind of understand why someone might want to do this.

Soule Restaurant's June Calendar of Events

Soule's Homestyle Caribbean Soul Food Brunch
Every Sunday

Soule's delicious Caribbean & Southern-Style Sunday Brunch is the perfect family tradition. Southern Fried Chicken with Waffles, delicious Jamaican Ackee & Saltfish, or American Eggs with Bacon and Toast, (or any other variation!)

Family Sunday Brunch, every Sunday!

Come taste the flavor of Soule!

Spoken Word Open Mic Spotlight
Tuesday, June 9th & Tuesday, June 23rd

Soule's new bi-weekly Spoken Word Spotlight will take place on Tuesday, June 9th, and Tuesday, June 23rd. Stop in to hear the collective creative vibes of local poets, or even better, come share your work!

Poets, please contact Nichole at soulerestaurant@comcast.net to be included in the lineup.

Live Jazz!
Saturday, June 27th

Deborah Latz, a jazz vocalist of the highest quality weaves ten standards into an odyssey of love. With a style that ranges from playful and Monk-ish to sexy and sultry, Deborah Latz takes her listeners to places both distant and achingly familiar.

Deborah's jazz vocals will be featured at Soule on Saturday, June 27th from 8 - 11pm!

Enjoy sultry jazz vibes over dinner with your sweetheart.

Gentlemen-THIS is the date she won't forget!

Celebrate Grads & Dads!
Throughout the Month of June

Soule is celebrating Grads & Dads with a 5% discount to all fathers on Father's Day, Sunday, June 21st, and all graduates throughout the month of June!

(Graduates, please show senior schedule or report card to receive the discount.)

Soule Restaurant: An Ode to Dads

Fathers play a vital role in the lives of children, and in appreciation, let us take a moment to acknowledge their importance in our lives:

Dads Rock!

Dads are providers.

They covertly fill Santa's shoes with no expectation of praise, and they give the best gifts--not just because they want to play too. They take care of home, even when times are most difficult.

Dads are enforcers.

They send you to bed when your mouth gets too big; they monitor your grades and react accordingly. They're always on the lookout for behavioral signs of substance abuse. In fact, 75% of adolescents in chemical abuse centers, 85% of children with behavior disorders, and 71% of High School dropouts are from fatherless homes.

Dads are protectors.

They keep you in protective custody, sheltering you from things you just don't need to see.

Dads are fun.

They're coaches of any sport and builders of clubhouses, (or tree houses if you're lucky enough to have a massive tree at your disposal.) They're teachers of bike riding and the best video game opponents; rulers of grills and master (ahem) repairmen. They won't heal bruised knees with kisses like Moms. They use tickles.

In honor of all that you do, Dad, we love you, today and always.

Soule Restaurant's Food Facts: Hot Peppers

Chili's are the second most common spice in the world. This is evident in the Caribbean where spicy food is synonymous to the culture.

Hot peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, with the most abundant levels in red peppers.

Vitamins A and C are antioxidants, which help to prevent cell damage, cancer, and diseases related to aging. They also support immune function and improve respiratory problems by opening clogged breathing passages. Their anti-inflammatory benefits helps ease the pain of arthritis and improves asthma.

Vitamin K promotes proper blood clothing, strengthens bones, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.

One particularly interesting fact about hot peppers is its source of fire: Capsaicin. Capsaicin acts on pain receptors, rather than taste buds. It is found in the white membranes and seeds of peppers, and helps to decrease cholesterol levels, boosts immunity, and reduces the development of stomach ulcers by killing the harmful bacteria that cause them.

Hot peppers stimulate the production of endorphins, which are natural opiates, effectively battling depression.

Capsaicin is used topically in creams to treat muscle pain, itching from Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, and Psoriasis.

Try Soule's Latest Menu Offering: Blackened Salmon!

Tender salmon grilled with peppery Cajun seasoning; a Creole dish originating in Louisiana and perfected at Soulé!
Keep it Southern with a side of our yummy macaroni & cheese and sweet candied yams. A delicious combination that few can resist!

Soule Restaurant: Happy Father's Day!

I would like to wish every reader out there a Happy Father's Day. You know... Father's Day.

The day where sales run from 4:12pm to 4:18pm. Not like Mother's Day, which takes place in May, but sales start in February... Historically, Mother's Day is the day with the most phone calls in the United States. Father's Day is the day with the most collect calls... It's a fact.

And gifts... Our kids buy us gifts that are just atrocious. How many striped aqua and marine blue polyester ties can you get? And the horrible thing is, we get the credit card bill and have to pay for the crappy gift that we bought for ourselves.

But in all seriousness, if you are a Father, you accept these. Happily.

I remember my first Father's Day... My daughter, in all her one-month-old glory, had a package for me in her hand. I took it... it was a money clip that said "JAZZY'S DAD."

I've done a lot in life, and nothing may ever match the happiness of that moment...

So ladies, sons and daughters, buy your Father something nice. 'Cause as men, its sometimes hard for us to say how we feel, and we appreciate it all.

Hell... Even another polyester tie ain't gonna be all that bad.


Victor Torres

Soule Restaurant: The Buzz...

A new independent bookstore is coming to Fort Greene! Jessical Stockton Bagnulo the founder of Greenlight Bookstore, is opening her shop on Fulton and S. Portland this September. Stay tuned... The Principal of PS 20 in Clinton Hill was arrested for beating a teacher... during a corporal punishment hearing. Talk about IRONIC... The Capital Hill Gallery.ocated on Clinton Ave between Fulton and Atlantic, is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Phillip Martin and Theresa O'Neill... Clinton Hill has a tattoo parlor! Jaz Tattoo opened at 212 Greene Ave between Grand and Cambridge Pl in late April... After all the hubbub over the prospect of armies of callow youth swarming Clinton Hill and Crown Heights for a permit-less backyard and rooftop music festival, the weekend's Hillstock DIY extravaganza was perfect... According to the New York Times, Fort Greene is now just too cool... Star architect Frank Gehry was ousted as the designer of the much-delayed Barclay's Center in Forest City Ratner Cos.' Atlantic Yards mixed-use project in Brooklyn. Instead, architecture firm Ellerbe Becket will design what is slated become the future home of the Nets basketball team... The old Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting street lights powered by wind and sunlight. Mayor Bloomberg is unveiling one of the 90 lights Thursday at the navy yard, which is undergoing a major expansion...