Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 23-29

Saturday, December 25, 2010
TangoUniverse Christmas Milonga @ JustDance Ballroom.
There was no lesson, and I arrived, goodies in hand. It wasn't hugely attended, but nicely attended, largely by folks turned off by the usual crowded dance conditions/spatial bottlenecks of the All-Nighter at the Beat (although someone told me later that Christmas at the All-Nighter was great since it was not as crowded as it usually is). The skill level of dancers was good to excellent. Except for those folks who came as couples, most everyone danced multiple tandas with everyone else (but properly, not in a row) since it was a long night and there weren't throngs of people. There were a few fewer followers, so by the midnight hour, I was exhausted from the workout, though happily so. Ashvin and his assistant did a wonderful job as hosts, with ample food, water from a regular table, hand-held pitcher that never ran out, dancing with everyone who looked like they wanted to dance, and doing a great job as DJ of mostly traditional and a couple of alt tandas, and not playing anything too obscure that would have had people groaning or scratching their heads, wondering why he didn't pick a better (more well-known, popular, fun-to-dance-to) tango/vals/milonga. The food was ample and included croissant half-sandwiches with cheddar and ham, grapes, crackers and hummus, assorted sliced pastries cakes, and cookies, and my chicken phyllo triangles. There was also wine, champagne, and water (from the miracle pitcher than never ran out).

There was a ballroom party next door, for the bargain price of $6. I was tempted to switch back and forth between the two rooms, but saw that they were really going all out in their dance with their performance posture and arm styling, so I stayed safely in the milonga room instead. I think our food must have been better since we had several crashers come in from next door. It was all good though, as J-Z and Pam demonstrated for them, and showed them a few things about Argentine Tango that are different from what they know from the ballroom, as they listened and watched attentively, all the while snarffling up tasty morsels from the milonga potluck spread.

Side note for the foodies:

Since this milonga was positioned as a bit potluck in nature, I decided to channel my old Martha Stewart life, combine her with the current tanguera, and threw together some chicken empanada-like phyllo triangles.

Phyllo has come quite a long way in the last decade or two! Unknowingly, I accidentally bought the new, thick, country-style phyllo dough, which didn't exist when I first started playing with phyllo, and neither did silicone pastry brushes. I loved how the thicker phyllo sheets (and my amazing silicone pastry brush) performed for this particular use (something akin to an empanada). The box said there would be approximately 8 sheets; reality was 11 or 12. (Regular phyllo has about 21-25 sheets). Because of these substantially fewer sheets to butter, work time is a lot faster and much less butter was used. In the age of smart-carbing, I was extremely pleased with the proportion of dough to filling I was able to effortlessly achieve. Basically, I only buttered one sheet, cut it into 4, 5 or 6 (I was experimenting with the sizes), added filling, folded like a flag, put in pan, painted with butter and baked. I was also glad that I used less butter: one full stick, which is substantially less than I used for one package of regular (thin) phyllo dough.

I am much more relaxed about things in the kitchen these days, so instead of growing my own free-range chicken and organic veggies (ha ha, just kidding!! I never did THAT!!), I happily used a Costco rotisserie chicken (aka Frankenchicken. I swear these things must be mutantly humongous when they start, because after they are roasted, they are still humongous, much bigger than Rocky or Rosie rotisserie chickens, or a Safeway or Lucky rotisserie chickens for that matter...[Yes, I eat a lot of rotisserie chicken] and certainly bigger than any home-roasted chicken [which I haven't done in more than decade since rotisserie chickens became so ubiquitous and cheap) as the base, shredded and then rough chopped, added in some dried reconstituted shitakes, chopped green onions, paprika, and black pepper, mixed it altogether, and had a tasty filling in no time flat.

I think I should have been more ample and liberal with the final brushing of butter before baking, since it took a while for them to get browned. I am toying with the idea of adding eggs to the butter for an egg wash/butter combo, hoping that will speed the browning.

I am going to experiment using other empanada fillings I had in BsAs: beef with egg & olive, sweet beef with raisins, corn & cheese, green veggie (I am thinking of combining acelga (Swiss chard) with spinach for a spin on Spanikopita...hey, maybe I will call it Swiss Spanikopita.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Studio Gracia Milonga. I did not attend the lesson beforehand, and it seemed that not many people did either since it was a bit sparse when I got there. The crowd filled up nicely (but not obnoxiously) as the night went on, so it was a fun evening dancewise for the gals since there were more Leaders than Followers. DJ Emilio's watchful eye and nimble fingers on the subtle speed moderation button kept us reasonably in line floorcraft wise. The food was how it usually is, but had the addition of a bit more holiday sweets to tempt us. There were a few folks who came in for the holidays so it was fun dancing with some new and old friends.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alt Milonga at CellSpace. There was no lesson. The milonga itself was fun as a lot of people came into town since work loads are light this week. Unexpectedly, Albuquerque, New Mexico 5-piece tango orchestra QTango (2 violinists, bandoneonist/vocalist/band leader, pianist, bass player) played two sets of many 2-song tandas. They were excellent, especially the singer. At first, I had wondered how they were able to get such crisp, vocal-only tracts to so many tango/vals/milonga songs. Then when I looked up to watch the band for a moment, I was surprised to see that the bandoneonist was actually singing the lyrics. Some of the songs had fast, complicated lyrics, so it was even more impressive that they were sung with such beauty and precision. The band also did us a favor by announcing the name of each song before they performed it, and even gave us some creative stretch goals by doing Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel. What an unexpected treat to hear them play. QTango plays tonight, Thursday December 30, at the Verdi Club, and then it is off to Sacramento for the Tango by the River New Years Eve party. Check them out at It was a great night.


January 15 & 16. 2011 : Homer and Cristina Weekend at Stanford - NEW TOPICS!!! These workshops should be great!


Workshop Theme: "The Leader's and Follower's Body Spiral".

11:30-1:00 All Levels (not for novice dancers) - Fundamentals of Body Spiral for Leaders and Followers
1:00-2:00 Lunch Break
2:00-3:30 Beg/Int - Get Your 'Pivot' vs No 'Pivot' Ochos Defined with Edgardo Donato
4:00-5:30 Int - Rebotes (switch steps) for Tango, Vals and Milonga with Juan D'Arienzo

2:00-3:30 Int/Adv - The Boleo vs Overturned Gancho Connection with Roberto Rufino
4:00-6:00 Adv Couples Only Seminar - The Body Spiral Explored with a CELLspace Inspired Music Mix
6:00-8:00 Dinner Break
8:00-10:00 Music Jam with Open Practice

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