Food Flavored Song of the Day: They Saved George the Third’s Brain by Showcase Showdown

Food Flavored Song of the Day: They Saved George the Third’s Brain by Showcase Showdown

“What they don’t tell you in Hollywood is that the tea wound up in the harbor.”

-Showcase Showdown

 

Around the turn of the century my music listening habits mainly consisted of punk music. One of my favorite acts at the time (aside from the amazing Dillinger Four) was Boston’s Showcase Showdown. Their music had everything I needed, fast sloppy chords, spit-a-second lyrics and a lead singer with a unique (read annoying?) voice. But the main reason I enjoyed them was that their songs dealt with things I cared about (cocaine sniffing fat actors, mean police, taxes, drunk priests, Rupert Murdoch, wasting money in space and roller derby) and had a historical flair to them (the only thing similar I can think of now would be The Monitor by Titus Andronicus’ which revolved around the Civil War). So naturally it saddened me when I was at the Warped Tour interviewing Paul Russo (at the time a member of fellow Boston band The Unseen) and I jokingly suggested that next time he “bring along Showcase Showdown” and he replied “I’d love to but they broke up.” Never having seen them live is one of the big regrets of my early music life.

 

 

Showcase Showdown had two full length albums: Appetite of the Kings and Permanent Stains (which featured “They Saved George the Third’s Brain”)
Open Faced "Sausage" Lasagna Piled High with Christien Summers, Arundel and Natalie Walker

Open Faced "Sausage" Lasagna Piled High with Christien Summers, Arundel and Natalie Walker

Every fighter has their nemesis, the one who forces them to go where no one else can. Hulk Hogan had Andre the Giant, Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier, Oscar De La Hoya had Fernando Vargas. My grandfather, a gurgitator long before the sport was famous, faced off many times against his arch enemy, pasta. Year after year the two would square off at a church spaghetti dinner. School age kids brought out plates that were piled a foot high with spaghetti. A fat kid like myself couldn’t even dent that semolina mountain. But my grandfather attacked, like acid rain on limestone monuments, and he finished not just his two plates but the leftovers from everyone else as well. They say the stomach can hold up to 3 liters of food. My grandfather was probably pushing six.
The spaghetti dinners have long since ceased, probably because my grandfather cost them so much money, and worthy opponents have dwindled to where there is only one left. Datz Deli offers a massive open faced lasagna. It is so big they had to create its own special plate. I have witnessed a number of people try to finish the entire dish. From large males to petite females to slumped over rednecks all have tried and none have succeeded. Could this finally be the nemesis my grandfather has never had?

Open Faced Sausage Lasagna (inspired by Datz Deli)
-1 order of vegan sausage
-1 block of tofu, drained and crumbled
-2 tsp. lime juice
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-2 Tbs. olive oil
-3 Tbs. fresh basil
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-salt and pepper
-1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
-2 Tbs. Parmesan, grated
-4 sheets of lasagna noodles
-tomato sauce
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the directions for the vegan sausage. Crumble or slice into little sausage chunks. Place in an oiled frying pan and cook until starting to brown (about three minutes each side).
2. As the sausage cooks, combine the tofu, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir. Set aside.
3. In a large pot of bowling water cook the lasagna noodles until they are almost al dente. Place in ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
4. Line the bottom of an oven safe round baking dish with tomato sauce. Layer on the noodles, sausage and tofu ricotta. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan. If so desired, roll the ends of the lasagna noodles up. Bake for 15 minutes (or until cheese is melted and browned). Acid Rain on that pasta parade.
All this carb loading put me in the mood to dance to disco. Not old school songs but some new stuff. Like Christien Summers “Shoot the Breeze” which is the perfect summertime anthem. An EP, Cloud One, is coming this summer. You can also catch her tomorrow in Toronto at The Silver Dollar Room.
If disco isn’t your genre of preferred dance music try out the buttery electro sounds of Natalie Walker and her vocoder. “Cool Kids” comes from Walker’s Spark EP which was released last week. Get it on iTunes.
Not so danceable (unless you are the fog or the scream that echoes in the cave) is Arundel’s remix of “Jungle” by Emma Louise. He slows down and distances the original to make it more ambient and dreamy. The original version (here) is better but the remix is not bad. That’s something you don’t often hear me say.
Of Surprise Parties, Greek Salads, Smoking Cigarettes and the Hellfish

Of Surprise Parties, Greek Salads, Smoking Cigarettes and the Hellfish

Surprises don’t come easy for my sister-in-law. She purchases a Christmas present and immediately tells what it is. This weekend was different. My brother turned 30 (yesterday) and she decided to have a party for him. For two months she made arrangements, invited friends and gathered supplies without him getting a whiff of it. The ultimate coupe was when she asked me to show up, unannounced and break the surprise. I took a red eye Friday morning, hid away at my parents house for the day and met the two of them at the Walnut Bottom fair. As I approached I saw her smiling and bouncing and thought “Another surprise bites the dust” but my brother was too engrossed in conversation to notice. I tapped him on the shoulder and said “Happy Birthday.” His look was priceless. Utter shock.

 

I sorely lack vegetables when I am in PA so for the party I made it a priority to create something that was chock full of them. I went with the Classic Greek Salad from the April/May edition of Vegetarian Times (recipe is here). I like the combination of salty and sweet provided by the olives and dressing. The only change I made to the Times version is to add a can of quartered artichokes. It was a hit. With the leftovers I made brunch the next morning. A Greek salad sandwich on toast topped with fried eggs from the Whigham homestead. The combination was much tastier than I anticipated.

 

I walked into a store while I was in PA and was shocked to see that the price of cigarettes has risen to eight dollars a pack. I thought about all the people I know that smoke and wondered how they can continue doing it at this price. Then I thought of the Hellfish. These guys are a pop punk doo wop band from Long Island who formed at the point where lackluster music, expensive cigarette packs, drinking beer and hanging out intersect. The Hellfish create music that is inspired by everything from doo wop to punk to garage rock to classic rock and they play it with a zeal that many bands could only hope to encapsulate. Check out their debut EP Laughing with the Sinners at their bandcamp page. “Tricky Woman” and “Shake Up the Night” are the first two tracks on that EP.

 

Tortellini and Meatball Soup Rolled with Alouatta and Dads

Tortellini and Meatball Soup Rolled with Alouatta and Dads

(picture by J-Fur)
The little guy on the left has some sort of liver ailment which requires medicine each morning. I take one of his pills from the container, push it into a meat pocket and roll it while announcing in a bad Italian accent “Who ordered the meatball? The meatball?” By this point the little beast has rushed over and is bouncing around with his arms waving making it clear who the intended target of the meatball is.
It was during one of these morning interactions that I started thinking about tortellini and meatball soup. I like tortellini. I like vegetarian meatballs. Why not? It took a couple tries but it finally came to be that I was the one ordering the meatball.

Tortellini and Meatball Soup (adapted from Rachel Ray)
For the meatballs:
-1 cup pecans
-25 saltine crackers
-20 basil leaves
-zest of 1 lemon
-2 ounces Parmesan
-1 garlic clove
-2 eggs
-olive oil
For the soup:
-1 onion, diced
-2 cloves of garlic
-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
-1 bay leaf
-2 Tbs. tomato paste
-salt and pepper (to taste)
-2 quarts veggie broth
-18 ounces tortellini
-1/2 cup spinach
1. Mix the pecans, saltines, basil, lemon zest and Parmesan in a food processor. Process until the pecans and crackers have been ground into a powder. Remove from the processor bowl and place in a metal bowl. Add the garlic clove and egg and stir until everything is well mixed.
2. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Form the pecan mixture into small balls and place in the skillet. Fry balls, on each side, until browned (about 3-5 minutes). Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, tomato paste, salt and pepper in a stock pot. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the veggie broth and bring to a boil. Once stock is boiling, place the tortellini and meatballs in it. Cook until the tortellini is done. With two minutes remaining, add the spinach. Divide the soup into dishes, top with additional pepper flakes and Parmesan. Eat the meatball…soup.
Few band names are as appropriate as Sweden’s Alouatta. Evoking ideas of howler monkeys, this punk outfit can whale with the best of them. Their message in “DIY” is one that all aspiring cooks, artists, DJ’s, etc. needs to hear. You can do it yourself (and you should, its better that way). Nothing unique here but it feels good just the same.
Dads aka Tom Iansek (half of Australian indie outfit Big Scary) creates layered indie pop music through the use of vocal harmonies and instruments as diverse glockenspiels and mandolins. Sure you’ll find your typical bass, guitar and drums but they are arranged in atypical fashion. What comes out of this is music that is full and rich and beautiful to listen to. “Sister” is from Dads debut album Man of Leisure.
Where we eat: Tacqueria Monterrey #2 Bussed in by Natural Child and Folkster Supreme

Where we eat: Tacqueria Monterrey #2 Bussed in by Natural Child and Folkster Supreme


The Taco Bus (here) is a Tampa legend that serves delicious authentic Mexican fare from the side of a bus. It has tons of vegetarian options and is open nearly 24/7 to satisfy cravings at all hours of the day. Recently the owners of the bus have expanded to St. Pete and more traditional restaurants (you know the ones with walls and floors) in Plant City and the University of South Florida area. The restaurants have been dubbed Tacqueria Monterrey #1 and #2.

My first experience with Tacqueria Monterrey #2 (the one by USF) was in December when I headed out for my birthday dinner. Our original destination was Trang Viet but when we arrived we found the doors locked and lights out (they no longer were open on Sundays). We moved a street over to Tacqueria Monterrey #2.

I was immediately impressed by the menu because there were a number of vegetarian options including vegan chorizo burritos (which I ordered). They were not quite as good as the tofu ones at taco bus but they weren’t far behind.

A few weeks ago we returned to Tacqueria Monterrey #2 (twice in the span of one weekend) and a lot had changed about the menu. No longer were chorizo burritos available. In fact, their vegetarian fare had been slashed a lot. It took me about ten minutes to find something I could eat. I went with rajas con queso which were roasted poblano peppers with corn kernels, queso fresco and cream. J-Fur chose the potato flautas.

As we waited for our orders we were treated to bottomless baskets of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Tacqueria Monterrey #2 also features a salsa bar with ten or twelve different salsas that you can choose from. After tasting all these my overarching reaction was why? Why have ten or twelve tasteless salsas. If you aren’t going to make them worthwhile, don’t make them. The house made salsa that is placed on every table is a hundred times better than anything at the salsa bar.

The House Salsa

It isn’t too strongly flavored with cilantro or spiciness which is nice because both J-Fur and I can eat it and enjoy (of course she has to pry it from my hands first). Our friend Hollie ordered a bowl of guacamole which was also very good and further illustrated why the salsa bar does not matter.

The Guacamole

I filled up on chips and salsa (like I normally do) and had only enough room for half of my burrito. On first bite I realized that I had forgotten to ask for the burrito without cream. It isn’t that I can’t eat cream, I just am not particularly fond of it so I usually go without. When I returned the next day, I ordered the burrito without cream and the waitress gave me a hard time saying ‘We can’t do it without cream.’ Somehow, magically perhaps, the cook figured out how to make the burrito without cream. I wish he hadn’t as it was not very good. While I liked the burrito fine enough, I can’t completely get behind something that requires me to eat cream in order for it to be good. There is just something wrong with that in my opinion.

Rajas Con Queso (with Cream)

J-Fur’s Potato Flautas

J-Fur’s Flautas (fried tortillas with potatoes in) were pretty good, though I haven’t yet been to a restaurant that can botch them because they are so basic. The flautas were doused in cheese and cream (which she also forgot to remove the first day) and surrounded by lettuce and tomato. They were served with a side of rice and beans.

Tacqueria Monterrey wasn’t anything special. When I heard that it was a relative of the Taco Bus, I expected much more than I got. I think I will continue to drive the extra twenty minutes to the original Taco Bus when I get my Mexican craving.

Taqueria Monterrey Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

When I get my craving for 70’s style singalong rock peppered with roadhouse twang I turn to Natural Child and their single “Yer Birthday.” Perfect for a post that begins with a birthday meal.

Natural Child-Yer Birthday via Sound on the Sound

I’ve had Folkster Supreme’s “Young Forever” in my pocket for a while. It just never seemed to fit. Where does one put a dusty phone call interpretation of a Jay-Z song that reminds me of gardening with my grandmother? In a post about a restaurant that is a dusty interpretation of its predecessor? That’s why we are here.

Folkster Supreme-Young Forever (Jay-Z Cover)

Food Flavored Song of the Day: Salt in the Wound by Propane Cowboy

Food Flavored Song of the Day: Salt in the Wound by Propane Cowboy

I ate dinner with a group of friends a few years back to celebrate a wedding or birthday or something. At this dinner there was a guy and a girl who I had never met. The two weren’t dating but it was obvious that the guy wanted to get with her as all night long he was putting on a show. Unfortunately a lot of this performance seemed to involve me. He spoke to me with haughtiness, contradicted things I said and insulted me a number of times. Eventually the two of us had a showdown over table salt. He tossed his over his shoulder while declaring religious purity, I blew mine in his face fairy dust style. He and the girl left moments later.

The interesting part is, once I poured that common table salt into his wounds, the two of us actually became friends. There’s a moral in their somewhere.
Perhaps Propane Cowboy can tell us what that moral is. These guys are an indie rock band from Long Island, New York. They remind me a lot of one of my favorite defunct 90’s bands Tripping Daisy, though they have a slightly more pop punk feel. “Salt in the Wound” is courtesy of the band’s debut LP Terrible Twenty-Twos which you can purchase here or here or here.
Check out Propane Cowboy at: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Youtube or ReverbNation
The Birth of a Focaccia Slut as Evidenced by StereoHeroes and Battle Ave.

The Birth of a Focaccia Slut as Evidenced by StereoHeroes and Battle Ave.

For years I’ve been visiting blogs, reading their recipes for focaccia, and posting something generic like “looks good, I can’t wait to finally make my own.” Then I’d go back to my kitchen, get sidetracked on something else, and continue being a homemade focaccia virgin. About a week ago I finally was inspired enough to dive in and make my own. It is all thanks to Mary at One Perfect Bite. Something about her Cheddar Cheese and Olive version said ‘come on baby, quit putting it off and do it now.’ The final product was a wonderful blend of vegetables, spices and bread that tasted so much better than the store bought versions and had me instantly asking myself ‘what took so long to give into those carnal food desires.’ The only thing I worry about going forward is that I might start falling victim to this bread’s lusting easier and easier. I’m not sure I can handle the whispers that are bound to follow me in the hallways (how does one combat being called a Focaccia slut…)
I followed Mary’s recipe exactly.
The StereoHeroes describe themselves in four words: French dancefloor ass kickers. Nothing could be closer to the truth. The StereoHeroes don’t just make dance music, they make dance music that is violent and in your face, the kind that isn’t afraid to punch you if your put your hands on its girl or spill its drink. “Wild Child” comes from their new album, Exiles, which is out now on German label Freakz Me Out. I beg you to be careful while you listen.
Battle Ave. is an indie rock band from upstate New York that writes songs that are equally ambitious and sloppy, emotional and barren. They remind me of a slightly cleaner, more mountainish Titus Andronicus (which might not be accidental considering their new album War Paint was produced, mastered, mixed and engineered by Kevin McMahon who also has worked with Titus Andronicus). On the whole War Paint has some ups and downs, inconsistencies which is to be expected from a debut full-length. As the band continues to evolve I think these will be fleshed out. No track demonstrates the highs of War Paint as much as “Oh Other, Your Brother.”
Movie Food: Bridesmaids’ "Bear" Sandwich Fondled by Red Sammy

Movie Food: Bridesmaids’ "Bear" Sandwich Fondled by Red Sammy

J-Fur had been bugging people for weeks to go see the Bridesmaids movie. No one seemed interested. Her sister and I finally broke down last weekend and agreed to accompany her to the theater. I had heard very little about the movie, other than J-Fur telling me it was a comedy, so I didn’t really have high hopes. I can’t go so far as to say I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t like it all that much but I wasn’t bored. I even laughed a few times. Since the movie revolves around a wedding it is only natural that there are a bunch of food related scenes. There is a restaurant excursion that leads to food poisoning in wedding dresses, a seductive nut eating stand-off and the typical I must make amends with baked goods even though my bakery experience was a failed one. The one that struck me as the most bizarre is the “bear” sandwich that appears during the ending credits. I decided to do my own interpretation of that scene, although mine was vegetarian and never made it fully into the bedroom.
Bridesmaid’s Bear Sandwich
for the tofu:
-1 block of tofu, sliced into thin rectangles
-2 Tbs. vegetable oil
-1/2 cup flour, for dredging
-1/2 cup nondairy milk
-1/2 cup fine cornmeal
-1/2 cup flour
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-salt and pepper, to taste
-garlic and onion powder, to taste
-pinch of cayenne
for the pesto:
-1 clove of garlic
-1 cup basil leaves
-1 Tbs. pine nuts
-pinch of salt
-1/4 cup olive oil
-Parmesan Cheese
for the sandwich:
-provolone cheese
-baguette
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet. Mix the cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne in a metal bowl. Place milk in a second bowl and remaining flour in a third bowl.
2. Dredge the tofu slices by placing them first in the flour, second in the milk and ending with the seasoned flour. Drop into the oil and fry until golden on each side (about five minutes). Place on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
3. To make the pesto, drop the garlic in a moving food processor. Add the basil, pine nuts and salt and pulse until pine nuts have been reduced to small chunks. Scrape the sides down and add the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and grate in Parmesan. Mix.
4. Create the bear sandwiches by slicing the baguette down the middle. Spread the pesto on one side of the baguette. Top with tofu slices, provolone and the other baguette. Growl in an animalistic way before eating.
I would doubt that Red Sammy loves sandwiches as much as the characters in the movie but their sounds go fit perfectly with the construction of a “bear” sandwich. Think of the twangy graveyard alt-country music as the bread with the raspy lyrics serving as the filling. Both “It Ain’t You” and “Cactus Flower” didn’t immediately strike my fancy. But the more I played them, the more I warmed. Eventually it got to the point where I was seeking them out. Both tracks can be found on the band’s new album A Cheaper Kind of Love.

Artist’s Cookbook: Corn and Shrimp Soup Courtesy of Shannon Curtis

Artist’s Cookbook: Corn and Shrimp Soup Courtesy of Shannon Curtis

When a songwriter sits down to pen a song they have something in mind, a sort of destiny for the song. Some are meant for the dance floor where glistening bodies and colored lights will move, sway and grind to the beats (think Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” or LCD Soundsystem’s “Drunk Girls”). Others reach for the airwaves so that people in cars and kids on school buses will sing along as they move from one place to the next (Anything by Katy Perry, Ke$ha, etc…). Then there are the songs that are destined to be so much more. These are the songs that were penned for revolution, for creating a social change or to lead a movement. That’s where Shannon Curtis’ song “Brightest Light in the Room” fits.

The song is, at its core, a love song. Something that anyone, who has ever walked into a room and saw that one person who stood out brighter than the rest, can relate to. But Shannon didn’t write it for just anyone. She had someone…well actually two people in mind when she wrote it. These two were young woman who, during the course of serving in the US Army, met and fell in love. For the next ten years they kept at their relationship despite multiple deployments to Iraq and all the heartache and hardships that come from loving someone who is at war. Eventually the two women decided to marry and one of them asked Shannon to write a song for the occasion. Thus “Brightest Light in the Room” was born. In just four and a half minutes Shannon creates a dual anthem, one that celebrates the demise of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while offering a stepping stone for the next battle, allowing gay and lesbian Americans the right to marry.

“Brightest Light in the Room” is Shannon’s first single from her upcoming album which will be released on Saint Cloud Records.

To accompany her alternative-electro-downtempo-dream pop-social movement song Shannon cooks up a delicious Corn and Shrimp Soup that comes straight from the southern kitchen (she learned the recipe from a Louisiana man who knows a thing or two about southern cuisine).

Shannon Curtis-Brightest Light in the Room