Bossa Nova music makes me feel giddy and extraordinarily happy. You know that feeling you get from listening to childhood records? A sudden spike of joy deep inside your soul?
When my sister Janet and I were growing up in Okinawa, our favorite records were the ones we weren’t allowed to play. Dutifully, we listened to Disney records that our grandparents mailed from the states, but we most enjoyed sneaking into our dad’s immaculate record collection.
He never found out about our little secret because my big sister was absolutely brilliant (even at seven years old). When we decided on an LP that we wanted to hear, Janet would pull THREE albums partially out of the record shelf. The one we wanted to hear was in the middle, the two others on each side were place holders (so she knew where to return the treasured vinyl). Big sis never allowed ME to actually TOUCH the records, which was probably a really good idea.
Our very favorite albums back then were Herb Alpert, and the awesome Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. We knew all the words to “Mais Que Nada” (still do), and would invite friends over for after-school dancing. To this day, Bossa Nova is always on my party mix. Just try listening to “One Note Samba / Spanish Flea” without dancing or bobbing your head.
When Peter and I first met fifteen years ago, we bonded over discussions of Bossa Nova music. Two years later on our wedding day, I walked down the aisle to Astrud Gilberto’s “Summer Samba (So Nice)”. If you don’t know the song, the lyrics begin with:
“Someone to hold me tight, that would be very nice
Someone to love me right, that would be very nice
Someone to understand each little dream in me
Someone to take my hand and be a team with me
So nice… life would be so nice, if one day I’d find
Someone who would take my hand and samba through life with me”
And yes, it’s been SO NICE!
We’ve fallen in love with chef Gary Menes’ cooking at Marche’ recently, and luckily the restaurant is just a few minutes from our house. When I read there would be a live JAZZ band on New Year’s Eve, I don’t know why but I just assumed it would be modern or fusion jazz. Not my favorite, but I figured at least Peter would really enjoy it. Besides Bossa, I’m a big fan of New Orleans jazz (especially Preservation Hall, the legendary band we recently saw at Disney Hall).
We had a 9pm dinner reservation, and I knew the food would be fantastic (this would be our fourth visit) so I wasn’t going to let the jazz in the background bother me. The duo wasn’t playing when we were being seated, and after we settled in and put on our party hats, there it was…. glorious BOSSA NOVA!
Yes, it was an elegantly laid-back, truffle-filled (thank you chef Menes!) food fest of a New Year’s Eve at Marche’, but with our beloved Bossa Nova warming up the crowded yet cozy dining room, it felt more like a party just for two.
My very Last Bites in 2009:
Note: This restaurant is now closed. Please follow Chef Menes on Twitter
13355 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Update: 3/30/10 Read Jonathan Gold’s Review!
All Marché photos on Flickr