Monthly Archives: March 2010

TOUR FOOD: BELGIUM

I took so many photos of food when I went on tour with Benoit Pioulard -  they almost outnumbered the performance-related photos! I admit that it was a little obscene. But our encounters with food were so rich and varied and unique that each meal we had would often become one of the most defining aspects of the city we were in. Brussels was no exception (I already posted about the carrot soup of my dreams! which haunts me weekly), although I have conveniently erased any/all memories of the one disappointing meal I had on tour (super expensive pasta with capers at trendy boutique hotel – do not want).

When I finally gathered the courage to reread my article after it came out, I was truly struck by how much I wrote about the food I ate while on tour. (And shocked that my editor included two photos of food in a journal about experimental music!) Honestly, when I was working on the piece, I think that I had no idea how much food-related babble was seeping in between the cracks of my narrative. These photos are from the day we spent in Brussels, which was truly unlike any place I’ve ever been. Expose-coiled toasters, plastic mats instead of plates, tart homemade blueberry preserves from Sweden, apple-EVERYTHING, and some of the best vegan curries I’ve had, ever. In some ways Brussels was one of the most memorable stops we made, mostly for its infinite unknowability. Truly a strange, magical place.

SO VERY LOST

It’s official. I have no idea where my camera USB cable is. It’s gone. Vanished. Until I find some kind of workable solution, I’ll be posting some photos from my archives, starting this week with some of the food I enjoyed when I was last in Europe (the article about the tour itself is available in this month’s Signal to Noise, which I plan on scanning and posting over here). I still dream about many of the meals I ate while I was there and in many ways food was one of the most important and structuring elements of the experience as a whole.

Photo above and below from La Maroquinerie in Paris, where I saw my friends Mountains play. Pre-show charcuterie plate not bad, either.

PERFECTION

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3GwsQvIggY]

You know how sometimes Firefox fails you and they bring up a tab that says “Well, this is embarrassing?” instead of your recovered windows? So anyway, I can’t seem to find my USB device that connects my crappy camera to my crappy laptop so even though I cooked so many delicious things in the last week that I want to tell you about, I can’t. I mean I guess I could but I won’t. I’ll say this, though, if you live in Portland get the brisket here and the infused whiskeys here and cheap wine here and bulk spices and handmade lamb sausages here and coffee beans here but the drip coffee here.

Also how did it take me 5 years to discover the perfect transitional springtime jammer?

SMILE SMILE WAVE

Finally got my hair cut for the first time in over a year! The stylist was mad I waited so long but I am so lazy when it comes to hair.  She was shocked when I said I didn’t own a blow dryer (don’t ask how she reacted when I told her I didn’t own a brush, either), so you can imagine my surprise when she blew out my hair to make me look like a pageant contestant. I feel pretty ridiculous. I’m used to my tangled nest of hair, ala Dances With Wolves.

Ala Danielle in LOST.

Ala Kate Bush in everything.

OUTLAW FOR MY LOVE

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pte3Jg-2Ax4]

RIP Alex Chilton.

I’ll always remember the first time I heard about Big Star – I found their first two albums at my local library growing up, even though the most that I knew about them was through listening to The Replacements in high school. In college, I found a bunch of solo Alex Chilton tapes  for a dollar each at Amoeba in Berkeley, and fell in love hard. Last year, I eyed the Big Star box set with longing. Maybe now is the time to finally buy it.

THIS IS HOW WE WALK ON THE MOON

If you’re ever in La Jolla, you’d be remiss to skip the killer Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. As a little girl, tracing my fingers in the sun-kissed tide pools and gazing at the ethereal jellyfish were among my favorite things to do ever. I would trick or treat at the aquarium on Halloween and take summer camps there every year. I dreamt about kelp and shark teeth and chambered nautilus. So last week, I made a long overdue visit. It was better than I remembered.  It’s amazing how much sea life reminds me of space life, both in the way things float and unfurl and jet about but also in the way things look so completely, utterly, overwhelmingly alien.  It was very Avatar. The last photo – of these insane sand worms – are pretty much what I imagine the surface of Hades to look like.

SPRING SONG

I have fallen for the sweet shades of blue Built By Wendy worked into her spring 2010 collection – especially her muted blues of chambray, denim and linen. Sturdy and earthy and unpretentious. I’ve been wearing a lot of blue lately – it’s so calming and meditative and California. The first day of Spring is Saturday. It can’t come fast enough.

[Via Refinery29]

DO YOUR EYES HAVE AN ANSWER

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB69aretdGo]

As if I needed another reason to love Nicole Holofcener, her first trailer for ‘Please Give’ features a song by the The Roches! Many years ago I interviewed Suzzy Roche, who was so sweet and lovely and energetic that she made me wish I had fistfuls of sisters to sit around and laugh and plait hair and cook and sing close harmonies with. The Roches’ “Hammond Song” always will be in my top 20 favorite songs of all time. Goosebumps.

One of my biggest flaws was that I never look ahead. (Laughs) But I certainly never thought that I would be doing it for this long. I don’t know what I thought! But when we first started, I was so young. I was 19 years old when our first record came out, and I was on fire, and there was nothing stopping us. And once you get some quote unquote “success,” that just takes you on a ride and you wake up 10 years later, and you’re like, “What happened to me?” It’s a phenomenon that I’ve seen happen to many people, and it can really screw you up if you’re not careful.

The more I think about it, the more The Roches embody the kind of weird, unpredictable sister/female relations that Holofcener explores in her acerbic, honest films. I love Catherine Keener/Nicole Holofcener tag team so much and I have high hopes for this film.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e3sqtoRG-Y]

SO I AM GLAD

Thanks to Sasha and Jennifer, I’m officially in good company when it comes to food repetition/legume adoration. That is to say, I am officially on a lentil kick… I’ve eaten them every day for the past week, maybe longer. Today was no exception – green French lentils gently stewed in vegetable broth with diced red bell peppers, celery, red onion, and tons of diced garlic, made extra spicy with crushed red pepper and chili powder, and finished with just a touch of good olive oil and vinegar and chopped parsley. On a more technical/logistical level, this is such a tempting meal when you live by yourself, mostly because it’s made in one pot and can be nibbled at / modified over 3-4 days. Lentils are so forgiving. On a more aesthetic/sensorial level, it’s the perfect blank canvas for flavors. The possibilities are endless.

A quick search in my archives pulled up a bunch of lentil-related recipes, like here and here and here and here. My fondest memories are of the daal – one of my favorite comfort foods.

Unfortunately I didn’t bake that beautiful little mini-ciabatta roll myself, but one of my resolutions for the year is to learn how to make bread. Does anyone have some tips for some easy/non-intimidating recipes to start with?? HELP!

LEAVE MY KITTEN ALL ALONE

I recently made roasted butternut squash soup from scratch. Without using a recipe, I made my first pureed soup with instinct and by hand (I never owned a food processor until now! Now I kind of want to puree everything). I cubed one butternut squash and roasted it at high heat (450 degrees) for 45 minutes, stirred with 5 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, a tiny bit of tumeric, olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. I sauteed half a red onion in butter until transluscent and added the pulpy roasted vegetables and equal parts vegetable and chicken stock (about 6 cups total) and stirred it all together. I let it simmer with a closed lid for 30 minutes and then I added 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream.

Then it went in the food processor and I pulsed until smooth. I added a huge handful of finely chopped parsley to stir in and the other half of the lemon juice and more salt to taste. In a separate saucepan I deep fried sage leaves in 2 tbsps butter and then crumbled on top (only did this for day 1 of the soup, i.e. in the photo of the trio of soup bowls). The easiest soup I’ve ever made, and somewhat healthy (minus the heavy whipping cream + butter, which would be easy to omit, but I wouldn’t. Don’t do it. Life is too short. And we love cream. Looooove it). It reminded me of this life-altering carrot soup I had in a cafe in Brussels last winter – it came with thick wedges of farm bread and tasted so tart and rich and clean and satisfying. I was famished and it was the best thing I had eaten in days. A walk down memory lane:

Okay, back to California. A bowl of soup wasn’t quite enough for dinner (never enough!), so I made a bubbling pot of organic French green lentils, simmered for 45 minutes with fresh bay, the other half of the onion, olive oil and vegetable stock. The essence of simplicity. In another pan, I flash fried a huge bunch of kale, torn into tiny strips, in equal parts butter and olive oil. The trick is to get the pan so hot that bits of the kale turn black and crispy, and then you add tons of lemon juice in the pan to deglaze and cook off the rest of the kale until slightly chewy and just barely not-raw. This process should take 4-5 minutes, tops. I stirred the kale into the pot of lentils and ate with sourdough bread and cheese. For lunch the next day I took it to a new level by adding chopped bacon, and the dish was infinitely improved, albeit far less healthy.  

And finally, below, a photo of my tiny compost pile from the squash ingredients. I thought it was so ethereal and beautiful, a lovely counterpoint to the simple, earthy soup that emerged from its cocoon. It looks like the beginnings of a wonderful wedding dress.