Well, my disco nap Friday night turned into full on snooze-fest, so I was up rather early the next morning, wondering what to do with myself. I took a moment to enjoy the feeling of not having anything immediately pressing to do, did a fair amount of blogging (I'm still catching up on the last week), and then headed out for some groceries. Of course, I forgot that Saturday is the day that most people do their groceries, so the place was a ZOO. Nonetheless, there's a part of me that really enjoys crowds and confusion, so it wasn't unbearable.
I still had that cocoa pasta that I had picked up at the Salon du Chocolat about a month ago. At the grocery store, I picked up some onions, mushrooms, crème fraîche, a pair of chicken legs (thigh+drumstick). Later that evening, I whipped up the mushroom cream sauce and the chicken with the cocoa pasta and it was SO GOOD I JUST CAN'T STAND IT. It's probably not for every palate, but I'm pretty happy with it, so here's the recipe: (more on night @ Rex after the recipe!)
Mushroom Cream Chicken w/ Cocoa Pasta
- Cocoa pasta (rotini), about 1.5 handfuls per person
- Lots of butter. Lots.
- 1-2 medium onions, frenched--i.e., sliced radially (or whatever)
- 2-4 white mushrooms, sliced (substitute more flavorful mushrooms if they're in season
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed or sliced
- One 500ml container of crème fraîche (sorry, you can't substitute with sour cream)
- 2 chicken legs or something similar (I recommend dark meat and bone-in)
- A cup or two of chicken stock or water
- Optional: some dark, mushroom-infused soya sauce for colour & flavour
- If you want to be all gourmet about it, you should start by browning the chicken legs in a bit of oil and then using the rendered chicken fat as the base for the next step. If you want to skip this step to save time and oil-spatter (I did), you can simply reduce the amount of stock/water you'll add later, or remove the skin
- Melt a lot of butter in a skillet (even if you have chicken fat from step 1), at least 1/2-cup to start. Slice the mushrooms and start laying them in the skillet over medium-high heat. The mushrooms will suck up the butter quickly, and you want to make sure that they're good and buttery before you go any further, so keep adding butter as necessary to ensure an even coating. Cover over medium heat while preparing onions.
- While the mushrooms reduce, peel and slice onions, then add to mushrooms. Stir and cover again.
- Prepare garlic, but wait until mushrooms have surrendered their liquor and the bottom of the skillet has filled with liquid; then add garlic and stir.
- Once the garlic has mellowed out, nestle chicken legs in mushroom-onion mixture and add liquid. Add liquid to about half the height of the chicken legs or until most of the mushrooms/onions are covered.
- Leave to simmer, partially covered, for about 30-40 minutes, turning the legs once for even cooking.
- Move the chicken to a plate, along with as much of the mushrooms and onions that you reasonably can, while leaving the liquid behind.
- Mix the crème fraîche into the liquid. In a pinch, you can do this with a spatula, but a whisk gives more even results. Try to avoid lumps.
- Return chicken and veggies to sauce and mix to coat. (If you don't have much room left in the pan, you can leave the chicken apart until the plating.) Leave the mixture to simmer gently over low heat while preparing the pasta.
- Boil up pasta like you would any other delicate pasta (i.e., check frequently, as it overcooks more easily than regular pasta). Drain. Add a bit of the cream sauce to coat and lubricate.
- Create a bed of pasta on the serving plate, place one chicken leg on top, cover with a layer of vegetables from the sauce mixture, and then pour sauce over top to coat well.
Anyway, cooking that up took longer than I had expected (especially because I added too much liquid and needed to reduce the sauce later), so when I had finally finished eating, it was already 23h30 and I still hadn't showered or changed. Once that was quickly taken care of, I headed for the métro and caught was seemed to be the last train of the night towards the Rex.
Closer: Magda, Krikor and Chloé at the Rex
0h00-2h40 : Chloé
I got into the line outside just before 1h00; the line seemed impossibly long, but after 30 minutes I was inside. I had this odd moment at the door, where the person doorperson (not the security guards) stopped me before entering and asked me: "Who are you here to see?" I started to list the DJs playing that night, and he immediately waved me in, as if I had said a secret password. I made a mental note to always memorize the name of one of the night's DJs in the future. I'm guessing that this was some sort of filtering mechanism, although I didn't see anyone get turned away from the door while I was in line. Perhaps I looked like a tourist that night.
Either way, I got in, sailed past the coat check (I nearly froze in a tiny hoodie, but at least I can roll it up and stuff it in my bag rather than check it), and headed off to the bar. I had the luck of finding an opening at the bar as I approached, so I was served in a few moments and I was off to the dancefloor with my 9€ vodka-tonic in my hand. If you have read about my previous exploits at the Rex, you'll know that I have certain reservations about the place. It tends to get way overpacked, the prices for booze are insane, and the last time I was there my bag spent a few hours steeping in someone else's vomit. The place was still packed and expensive this time, but at least my night was puke-free.
One of the upsides of the Rex is it's powerful and smooth sound system. I've seen Chloé around at Katapult events, but it was nice to catch her in a larger club with a substantial sound system. Her set would probably be classified as "techno" in a generic sense here, but it sounded to me like some sort of maximal microhouse. The tracks tended to always include a bit of house-y swing (especially the alternating low-hi signature) as well as microhouse's tendency towards glitchy sounds, but the overall weight of the sound seemed to be classic big-room techno. As it turned out, this was sort of a theme for the evening.
2h40-3h45 : Krikor
Krikor was definitely the surprise find of the night for me. I had already seen his name pop up a few times while skimming the Karat record label's offerings on Beatport, but his recordings weren't quite as arresting as his live performance. The set could've sat comfortably next to ghetto-tech sets from Detroit; it was a fair bit faster than Chloé's set, with lots of sonic jump-cutting between hacked-up samples, but with a pounding bass kick punctuating everything. The best I can recommend as an example is to listen to Krikor's solo EP on Karat records at Beatport (here) and then imagine a very punchy bass kick and a generally more frenetic texture.
3h45-6h00? : Magda
At around 3h40, Krikor turned down the volume on his set as if he were going to finish. Everybody clapped and cheered and called for an encore. After a moment, he started back up with another final track, but the encore didn't seem to finish. Instead, the tail end of his live set merged seamlessly with the beginning of Magda's set, and only 15 minutes later did I realize that he had finished and Magda had started.
Magda's set was sort of what I've come to expect of her. Good, medium-intensity techno, mostly minimal-sounding tracks, but executed with maximal effects. In other words, she would lay down the bass and treble of the tracks as she mixed them in such a way as to create a massive and often body-rumbling sound out of relatively sparse textures. My only complaint with her set was that she was fond of tracks that used feedback / squeal elements, which were sometimes excruciating.
At one point, a guy next to me leaned over to his friend and said, "She's minimal, but only in volume!" And he was right, in a sense. He was saying this in response to one of many pauses Magda placed into her set. After a solid opening of 30 minutes or so, Magda would more and more frequently finish a track by playing to near-silence, and then bringing up then next track on full volume, or by bringing in the next track very quietly, and then suddenly dropping the bass. Either way, it seemed like she was borrowing from Richie Hawtin's bag of tricks regarding departure and return (see my previous discussion here), but departing into near-silence, rather than into unusual or "experimental" tracks. Either way, she seemed to read the crowd pretty well, keeping her moments of quiet short enough to prevent people from getting bored and leaving the dancefloor.
At around 5h40, I finally tuckered out and headed for the door. Thankfully, my bag was in decent shape this time and my ride home on the métro was pretty uneventful. I passed by my bakery (which is open by this hour on Sundays), but decided against buying bread. I was tired and my hands were dirty and I really wasn't in the mood to shop for baked goods. Nonetheless, I did manage to brush my teeth, pull out my contacts, and put my party-clothes in a neat pile before collapsing into bed.