Food Flavored Song: Wasabi Nut Nut Nut by Tirikilatops

Food Flavored Song: Wasabi Nut Nut Nut by Tirikilatops

Wasabi is nutty, pungent and herbal. It is also hot. Not the holy f*** my mouth is on fire type hot that traipses through salsa, a deeper burn one that leaves your mouth entirely and settles into the deep dark dankness of your sinus cavity. The same descriptors that convey the power of wasabi, could also be used to explain the music that avant garde South Korean band Tirikilatops conjures up.

According to internet legend, Tirikilatops is led by the offbeat lyrics of Bom Carrot’s adventures. The music is created by the masked duo Super Bodreong and Rikkuuu. These two mash up the place with a combination of kimchi beats, dayglo colors, hacked keyboards, rice wine and ear worm melodies. Sometimes Sea Robber Potato joins them to make a quartet, the type that only the trendiest of barber shops would enjoy. The trio/occasionally a quartet was born of a fossilized egg that was discovered on a Korean mountainside during a heavy thunderstorm!

Sound a bit strange? You haven’t seen nothing yet. Give “Wasabi Nut Nut Nut” a listen, then we’ll talk about strange.

Listen: On the Avenue, Fire Fences, Life in Film and Creo

Listen: On the Avenue, Fire Fences, Life in Film and Creo

Staring at breakfast sandwiches can feel a bit laborious. Thanks to these tracks my four minutes flew by:

Anyone who knows me and my listening habits know that a good mash up of hip-hop and indie rock will hit me right where it counts. Unfortunately the good in this genre is few and far between. On the Avenue is the latest pop/rock/hip-hop/alternative band to come to my attention. The band formed right next door (Central Florida) back in October of 2013. In the beginning (getting biblical with it), the group consisted of producer/guitarist Kenneth Evans, lyricist Stevie Jackson, and singer Aaron Forte. Since then, On the Avenue has expanded to six members, each one adding their own style and musicianship to the band’s collective sound. On the Avenue had a big 2014 as they were crowned champions of the Tampa Regional Hard Rock Rising Battle of the bands competition, opened for Cage The Elephant and Bear Hands at Jannus Live (in St. Pete) and performed at the St. Pete stop on the Vans Warped Tour. Looking for an even bigger 2015, the band has started the new year by releasing a single, “Summer Days”. It is the band’s first one:

The video version:

I was recently posed the following questions: Do you like Bastille? Deaf Havana? Indie rock? I was a taken aback, especially by the third question. In my mind that is the same as asking do you like to breathe? Do you like to eat food? Do you like to pet soft animals? Yeah. I mean, doesn’t everyone? Fire Fences are a four piece indie rock band from South Wales. Their musical influences include the aforementioned Bastille and Deaf Havana. I see that, especially Bastille, from the opening track on their Roses from Dust EP, all the way to the closer. Despite this nod, I never get the impression that the band is trying to be something they aren’t. The whole EP feels authentic. Lead singer Aaron Wyn Nicholas can’t help that he sounds like Bastille right? That’s just how it comes out (see young women, NPR, vocal fry). While I’m a fan of the whole Roses from Dust collection, my favorite track is the EP opener, “Next Page”:

Life in Film’s new single “Get Closer” sounds like that time when the Arctic Monkeys taught early Kings of Leon (the British sounding Kings of Leon) how to make their raw desserts pop with flavor. Never happened? Hmm…I could’ve sworn I saw that on a cable access cooking show. Perhaps I was mistaken? Not a cooker? Well then I’ve seen Life in Film compared to the likes of the Wombats and Albert Hammond. Either way you turn it, roll it, and grease it up with olive oil, Life in Film’s “Get Closer” is a fabulous pop jam that dials up the fun. I put it at the top of “the can’t get enough of” cookie jar.

Seems I had my head to far up “Afterglow’s” ass to realize that Creo had a new single, “Suay”. Like its predecessor, “Suay” features Creo’s brand of oozing guitars and harmoniously snotty lyrical presentation. It differs in that it doesn’t whisper so darkly. There are bits of light peaking through “Suay’s” undertones. Download the track free from Triple J Unearthed.

Cook: Aron Love Sausage Sandwich

Cook: Aron Love Sausage Sandwich

DSC_0325Mandy Len Catron recently wrote an article for the New York Times about making someone fall in love with you. It was based on a study that Arthur Aron, noted psychologist, conducted two decades ago. According to Dr. Aron’s study, a series of 36 questions, each getting more and more personable, and a four minute stare into each other’s soul session is all it takes for two complete strangers to fall in love. I was enamored with the idea. I was also a tad incredulous. No way this can happen right?

Not wanting to risk my marriage but still wanting to test out Aron’s ideas, I spent days walking around pondering who was a complete stranger that I could fall in love with without repercussions? I found my solution during the commercial break of a college basketball game. A Jimmy Dean breakfast abomination glided slowly across my television screen. Breakfast sandwiches! Because of their meatiness, they were complete strangers to me, I hardly knew ’em. I asked J-Fur if she had a problem with me trying to fall in love with a vegan version of a breakfast sandwich. She rolled her eyes and said no. Game on!

The sandwich and I started with some questions about dinner, fame and perfection. I felt nary a sense of desire. We went down the list and found we had very little in common. After the final, most personable question was answered I took a step back and wondered what exactly was going on. I felt very little connection to the thing in front of me. In fact, I pretty much abhorred it. The final part of Dr. Aron’s experiment was the four minute stare down. Begrudgingly, we looked deep into each other. Somewhere around minute two that Jimmy Dean sandwich removed all its layers and stood completely exposed and vulnerable in my presence. This was both enthralling and terrifying. Was I appearing the same way to it? By the time the four minutes were up, I had done a complete about face and stood knee deep in a breakfast sandwich love fest. It is a love fest that still haunts me thirteen days later.

This particular sandwich, named for Dr. Aron, was crafted by combining black lentil sausage (I changed it up a bit by using a bit of liquid smoke for flavoring and replacing the quinoa flour with rice flour and purple potatoes with regular potatoes) with scrambled tofu on top of a sourdough english muffin.

Listen to some breakfast sandwiches fall in love.

Click: Vegan Spam, Foie Gras is Back on the Menu in California, Neo-Nazis Embrace The Vegan Diet, Fat Heaven Gets All Night of the Dead and Other Musings From This Week

Click: Vegan Spam, Foie Gras is Back on the Menu in California, Neo-Nazis Embrace The Vegan Diet, Fat Heaven Gets All Night of the Dead and Other Musings From This Week

I took a brief  (12 minute) hiatus from vegan bacon grease wrestling this week to scour the web. Here’s some of what I found:




“Night of the Dead” by Fat Heaven

Draag “Chair”

Peyton “New York Era”

“Daffodil Days” by Oscar


Walla “The Kids Are Alright (Pistols & Pints Remix)


“I’m on Fire” (Bruce Springsteen) by Crozet

“Scrape Away” (the Jam) by Miracles


“I’m on Fire” by Crozet

“Careless” by Alex Winston


January Tracks (When Available) via Spotify:

Listen: The Wombats, Agnes Blue, Halcyon Drive and Baby Baby

Listen: The Wombats, Agnes Blue, Halcyon Drive and Baby Baby

Put together some bananas, strawberries, almond milk and sweet potatoes together and you’ve got a thick life saving serum. Some people refer to serums as a smoothies, but those people are whores to the jamba juice culture. Screw them. The same type of life saving serum can be made by blending the best of:

The Wombats “Greek Tragedy” is anything but tragic (well except for the part where she “hits like ecstasy”, I’ve seen that turn tragic quick). The track takes the magical part of Grecian history and puts it to pop sounds in such a way that people have had to stand up and take notice. Included in these “people” are Zane Lowe who made it his record of the day. If this is only the beginning of The Wombats latest musical adventure, I can’t wait for what else Glitterbug (which is due out April 7th) has in store.

In video form:

What were you doing when you were fourteen years old? Playing video games? Making out with your neighbor? What about sixteen? For Jack Blandford and his sister Frea the answer to these two rhetorical like questions are performing high energy rock/roots music. The brother and sister duo, who hail from the small beach town of Agnes Water in Queensland, perform under the name AGNES BLUE. Jack takes care of the guitar and vocals, Frea handles the drums. The first single from the two is “All Around”, an upbeat raucous affair that has a slight beach feel to it. But it isn’t the glit and glamour of say a Miami Beach but more like the seedy underbelly of a beach town in disrepair. The single will officially be released on February 6th.

There is no doubt in my mind that kids can be cruel. Hell, I give the world a smoothie and the hate mail flows like water from all the kids who are “sick” and “tired” of their “mom making them drink fruits and veggies”. Melbourne’s Halcyon Drive captures this cruelty of childhood better than anyone I’ve heard in their track “Crusoe”. The band could’ve easily fallen into artistic anger and rage with a topic as delicate and close to home as this, but they address it in a way that almost makes you feel like dancing on your way down. The main stars in “Crusoe” are the kids who break all the rules and have no problem dancing on your tombstone. That’s some cruelty.

Baby Baby has a new track. This one, titled “Take Me Home”, turns the knob on the “fun rock” way down and spends a bit more time on introspection and seriousness. That isn’t to say there aren’t moments when the music is all out dance your socks off fun but the overall mood is one I haven’t seen too much from the band. You know what? It works. I’m okay with a band showing off their ability to do things off the beaten track as long as they pull it off. In “Take Me Home”, Baby Baby does.

Drink: Sweet Potato, Banana and Strawberry Serum

Drink: Sweet Potato, Banana and Strawberry Serum

DSC_0311The plump little fat kids have returned from their summertime adventure at weight loss camp and, thankfully, the regimen didn’t work. Florida’s strawberries are bigger, plumper and more out of shape than ever. This means that the next few weeks are going to be filled with gorging on anything (and everything) that mingles nicely with  one of nature’s fattest berries.

Now I’m a morning smoothie kind of guy and my smoothies almost always start with Big Yellow (aka hold me, feel me, eat me, peel me). Now I know Big Yellow and strawberries have a nice little relationship. One of my daughter’s favorite yogurt flavors is strawberry-banana. But I’m just not so gung-ho on that combination. Its fine enough, tolerable even, but it always feels like something is missing. I much prefer the flavor performance that occurs when banana and blueberries take the stage together (Bumper Sticker Note: I live for summertime smoothies!). But this week my feelings shifted ever so slightly.

It began like most other smoothie episodes. I had some previously peeled bananas (thanks to a bad habit my daughter has fallen into recently) so I threw two of those into the high-powered blender. I followed that with a cup of strawberries (leaving all of their stems on because I was feeling lazy). I poured in a cup of almond milk (original), scooped in a Tablespoon of chia and prepared to lower the hatch for high speed take off. But just before the hatch closed for good, I noticed the leftover roasted sweet potato that was siting on my oven top. Without a second thought I grabbed it, removed the skin and dropped it into the blender. Pedal hit floor and maximum smoothiness was achieved in fifteen seconds. I poured the entire contents of the blender into a cup and absent-mindedly took a sip. I stopped in my tracks. Holy Laura Palmer and her wedding. Where plain banana and strawberry had fallen flat previously, this version was absolutely awesome. The flavor felt much fuller and deeper. It was sweet in a subtle sort of way.

Banana. Strawberry. Meet your new friend, sweet potato.

Sweet Potato, Banana and Strawberry Serum
(printable version)

-2 bananas, peeled
-1 cup strawberries, rinsed
-1 sweet potato, skin removed and discarded
-1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non dairy milk)
-1 Tbs. Chia Seeds

1. Mix all of these ingredients together in a blender. Mix them until not a solitary chunk remains. Serve at once.

For the sounds of smoothie, click here.

Food Flavored Artist: You Spin Me Round by Caffeine

Food Flavored Artist: You Spin Me Round by Caffeine

Caffeine was a pop-punk band from London that was possibly poised to hit it big around the turn of the century. They were spending their nights grabbing the fattest asses and hanging out in the swankiest clubs with the likes of The Offspring, AFI, Rancid and Blink 182. By morning, these guys were high tailing it out of town leaving a trail of destruction (and adoring female fans) behind. The band’s breakthrough single, “You Spin Me Round” (a cover of the 80s hit by Dead Or Alive), had just hit Number 1 on, got playlisted on XFM, was being featured heavily on Channel 4’s music shows as well as the ITV’s Grand Prix coverage. But just about the time the boys were going to cash in on all the global kum ba yahs that “You Spin Me Round” had conjured up by releasing an album, their distributors went into liquidation and the album (and single) were shelved.

Here we are, 15 years later, and Caffeine’s big break has never really occurred. The band’s guitarist JJ, who now plays in Calling All Astronauts, mentioned the sad story of their single that never was to Heidi at Supersonic Media. Moments after completing the tale, Heidi was on the phone scheduling release dates and prepping to digitalize Caffeine’s entire back catalogue for the first time ever.

Let’s make 2015 the year we drank too much Caffeine and lost ourselves while spinning circles uncontrollably in a pile of narrow misses.

Food Pairing 101: What Goes Well With Chickpea and Dumpling Stew?

Food Pairing 101: What Goes Well With Chickpea and Dumpling Stew?

DSC_0305For years I was dating this girl who, how should I put this nicely, was very plain looking. Nothing stood out about her except that she had an amazing ability to absolutely disappear in a crowd. On at least a half dozen occasions I had to page her in Wal-Mart when I was ready to leave.  The two of us had a decent time together. We went out for dinner at Olive Garden, held hands at the roller skating rink and read novels while browning our skin along the lakefront. Nothing was wrong with what we had. It was comfortable, safe and satisfying enough.

But then the devil got ahold of me. It started because I caught this wild, funny, physically fine specimen giving me eyes. Then I caught her again. And again. Pretty soon it was happening on a daily basis. Her eyes were clear blue like flawless crystals. They left marks on my soul. We began night walking at the duck pond, smooth dancing at concerts and having square pizza parties. I quickly learned that the years I had spent experiencing “satisfying”, “comfortable” and “plain” were wasted. Plain is dull. Plain is boring. Plain is settling for something when there is so much more out there. Girl number one, plain Jane, is the female version of Granny’s “Pot Pie”. You won’t leave hungry. But you also won’t leave raving. number two? She’s like the chickpea and dumpling stew featured in Thug Kitchen. It won’t just fill you up. It will do so while leaving marks on your soul.

Just ask the babysitter.

What kind of music makes this magical dish come alive? Day Wave’s “Total Zombie.” Day Wave, the name selected by 25-year-old Oakland artist Jackson Phillips (who also performs in the band Carousel), first made himself known when he released “Nothing At All” back in November. While the title “Total Zombie” seems destined for an EP consisting of dark, clunky tunes, reality finds it all sunny and surfy in a lo-fi way. “Total Zombie” will find itself on an EP early this year.

Where We Eat: Cafe Hey

Where We Eat: Cafe Hey

Cafe Hey is the restaurant version of Pretty in Pink. It is my Andie Walsh. Inside the little shack, located right near 275 in West Tampa, a bevy of vegan coffee, baked goods, soups, salads, vegan sandwiches and breakfast items are slung together with ease. The restaurant walls are made of exposed brick that is worn and faded from years of sun exposure. These walls are covered with local art, music posters, murals and signs celebrating the regional foods that supply the business. Cafe Hey’s bathroom is one of the quirkiest that I’ve come across in the Tampa area. I love that the kitchen, at least the part that I could see from my seat, had writing on the wall. I’m not sure what it said but I imagined some sort of mad scientist chef in the kitchen at night jotting his recipes there in finely printed ink so that the daytime employees could easily find them. All of these factors work together to make Cafe Hey the kind of charming little place that is easy to fall in love with. The only problem is, the Andie Walsh effect. It is located on the wrong side of the tracks.

Instead of being surrounded by the fabulous parks and museums of downtown Tampa, Cafe Hey is a short walk (or long one if it is cold and windy) away in Tampa Heights. It is in a part of town that scares the bejesus out of some people because of how close it is to “vagrants” and “borderline unsafe” neighborhoods.  Because of the location, every time I try to profess my love for Cafe Hey and plan an intimate visit, I am met with resistance from those nearest and dearest to me. Things like “if you want your piece of low grade vegan food, fine, take it, but you won’t have friends” or “if you’ve got a hard on for trash, don’t take care of it around us” roll of their tongues with ease. For years, this put me in a tough bind. I listened to them and dated only those restaurants on the right side of the tracks. I acted like everything was cool. But deep down, I felt empty. Finally, I grew the courage to tell my pals that I was crossing the tracks and they could come with me or stay behind. Only my wife and daughter rolled along. Imagine trying to start a revolution with only your wife and kid…

On our first visit to Cafe Hey the three of us set up shop right by the huge window that looks out on the street. It was chilly so both J-Fur and I ordered some hot drinks. I went with a specialty coffee (I can’t remember which one) with almond milk while she slammed the hot chocolate. Not being a huge coffee fan, I had hoped that whatever I ordered didn’t taste much like coffee. Unfortunately, it did. It warmed me well enough but it wasn’t as tasty as a bunch of sugar and almond milk would’ve been. J-Fur was pretty giddy over her hot chocolate.

J-Fur and I ordered sandwiches for the two of us, I went with the VLT and she ordered the Hummus and Veggies sandwich. For the little one, who was on a bit of an oatmeal binge at the time, we purchased a huge bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup.

J-Fur’s sandwich came out first. It was covered with hummus, pressed and included shredded carrots, cucumber, tomato and lettuce. The carrots and cucumbers were fresh and crisp. They paired nicely with the hummus and pressed Cuban bread. I wasn’t a big fan of the hummus, felt like it didn’t have much taste, but J-Fur was pleased with the outcome. Our daughter also seemed delighted by it though you could put hummus on a boot and she would probably enjoy the taste. That is how much of a hummus fiend she is.








J-Fur’s Hummus and Veggie

Cafe Hey’s VLT features Light Life bacon, lettuce, cabbage, tomato and Veganaise. It is served on Cuban bread from La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor. I wasn’t expecting the sandwich to be amazing, I’ve done VLTs at home a number of times and have never reached anything more than pretty good status. But it only took me one bite of Cafe Hey’s version to realize that it was leaps and bounds better than any I had made at home. The pressed Cuban bread was nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The Veganaise just sort of melted into the bread making it impossible to tell one from the other. The lettuce, bacon, cabbage and tomato injected a speed metal jolt of juicy, salty, crispy and chewy into each bite. The sum of all those tastes? A sandwich that on the surface seemed so simple tasted absolutely divine.









The oatmeal was….well, oatmeal. There was nothing earth shattering about it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first visit to Cafe Hey. The prices are a bit steep so it won’t be a place I can frequent too often. But now that I’ve crossed the tracks and shed some of those not so supportive friends, Cafe Hey and I will definitely see each other again. I hope to visit to try out some of their specialty events. I’m particularly eyeing the Not Just for Omnivores Brunch which takes place on the last Sunday of each month.

One last thing, if you are into quality service and people that are willing to wait on your every beckon and call, this place probably isn’t for you. They are very laid back and, for the most part, let you do things for yourself.

Cafe Hey on Urbanspoon

My trip to Cafe Hey was soundtracked by the old times tune “My Grandfather Could Make the World Dance” by Spencer Berger (aka Auditorium). Spencer spent the ages 9-12 performing on stage with a number of “large, sweaty, golden-throated dudes like Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo in front of thousands”. Nowadays, Spencer’s auditorium of choice is his bedroom. His audience? Old He-Man action figures. While Spencer says it’s not quite as grand, he is thankful that it doesn’t induce nearly as much perspiration.