Archive for April, 2011

The Perfect Marriage: a Cookbook Author and a Musician

Yoshie Fruchter and Leah Koenig combine two of our favorite things in their marriage: she’s a cookbook author and food writer and he’s a musician. What more could a couple ask for??

Leah Koenig and Yoshie Fruchter, awesome couple.

Koenig‘s first cookbook, Hadassah Everyday Cookbook, recently came out through Rizzoli Publishing and is currently impressing Jewish grandmothers across the country, as well as their hip young granddaughters, like myself (yeah, I’m hip and young–what of it??) who always despair at the lack of creativity in Jewish cookbooks.  And did I mention it includes a breakfast chapter? You can buy it here on Amazon.

Meanwhile, Fruchter and one of his several bands, Pitom, recently released their latest album, Blasphemy and other Serious Crimes, on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. A mashup of jazz, funk, rock, and whole bunch of other stuff, Pitom creates unique music that is constantly evolving. On their new album they explore some more rock and grunge sounds that will surely make your ears happy. You can buy that album here on Amazon.

Pitom

The two are teaming up outside of their home for an awesome event called Blasphemy and Bites. Fruchter and Pitom will be on hand playing their tunes, as well as the band Gutbucket, and Koenig will be there with tons of amazing samples on hand. It happens Monday, May 2 at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. TnJ will be there and so should you.

TnJ also got the chance to interview this fabulous couple, check it out:

TnJ: You two are both writers–one of music and the other of food articles and recipes–what kind of similarities, if any do you experience in your writing process?
LK: Our processes are very similar, I think. We both start with a raw idea–Yoshie with a musical phrase, and me with a question–and then polish it and whittle away at it until it feels right. We also both find that our best ideas tend to come at odd or inconvenient times–like while taking a shower or walking down the street.
YF: I think the similarities in our process have more to do with the research and preparation that goes into our work. Like the other day Leah was reading Travels with Barley, a book about beer, while I was listening to Andy Statman’s “Between Heaven and Earth.”  In order for us to stay fresh in what we do, it’s important to keep our minds open through other artists in our field.
TnJ: You also both often work and write from home–do you get along? Is Yoshie in charge of background music while Leah provides the snacks?
LK: Usually!  We used to work in the same office in our apartment, but I’ve migrated my work space to the dining room table, which feels appropriate for a food writer. We have lunch together a lot, which is the greatest perk of working from home. Typical meal: pasta, salad, and a viewing of The Daily Show.  I cook, Yoshie does the dishes. And on the rare occasions that Yoshie’s practicing ever gets too loud, the Brooklyn Public Library is only two blocks away!
YF: And sometimes Leah comes to the door of my office and shuts it when the background music becomes, well, more than background.

TnJ: Leah, your new cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, features an entire chapter on breakfast recipes, which is somewhat of a rarity in most cookbooks, especially Jewish ones. Was it your decision/idea to include this chapter? Why did you think it was essential to include?LK: I think Jewish cuisine has added a lot to the world of breakfast. Bagels and lox, challah french toast, matza brie…we’ve got some real classics in the repertoire. Plus, breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. I find myself scheming up new egg dishes and baked goods more than anything else, so having a chapter dedicated to breakfast seemed like a no brainer.

TnJ: Leah, what are your 3 favorite breakfast recipes in the book?
LK: Apple Walnut Bread. You could serve it for dessert too, but it’s got enough nutritional heft (whole wheat flour, flax seeds, a ton of apples) to make it a perfect breakfast bread.  If I’m on the go, I slather a piece with peanut butter or almond butter and take it with me. I’ve copied the recipe below.  (Thanks, Leah!)
Horseradish Omelet: What could be better than cheesy eggs with a kick of heat? This recipe is a great way to use up any jarred Passover horseradish lying around.
Chocolate Apricot Scones: I’ll be serving these at our show on May 2nd (Woohoo! Show is worth it already!).
TnJ: Yoshie, what is your favorite breakfast recipe that you got to sample while Leah was testing recipes?
YF: Smoked salmon scrambled eggs for sure. Two of my favorite things to eat in one dish!  

TnJ: What is your favorite restaurant to eat brunch or breakfast?
LK: So many! In our neighborhood of Prospect Heights/Park Slope I love Cheryl’s Global Soul, Flatbush Farm, Rose Water and Dizzy’s Finer Diner.
YF: Even though it’s a bit far, I love B & H Dairy in the city. A bit greasy yes, but delicious, and I dig the diner thing for breakfast.
(In case you readers are wondering, TnJ wholeheartedly approves of all their choices! We even just did a review on Rose Water!)

TnJ: Yoshie, your new album with your band Pitom, Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes, was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. Do you consider Zorn to be an influence?
YF: Definitely. When I first discovered his music and Tzadik in college, it was a breath of fresh air. Having grown up with a lot of Jewish music, but getting increasingly into more experimental jazz and rock at the time, Zorn provided a swath of new music, from [his bands] Naked City to Masada for me to play and play over again. We were excited when our first, self titled album came out and are psyched about our new one as well.
TnJ: Yoshie, these new songs seem to have bit of a heavy metal undercurrent, not something you expect from most jazz bands. Did any metal bands influence you? Why do you think that works well with your brand of jazz?
YF: Honestly, aside from the fact that the music is instrumental and includes improvisational sections, I’m not sure if I can get away with calling it jazz anymore. Our first album was recorded right on the heels of my graduation from the jazz school at University of Maryland, so I think the jazz influence came out more on that record. For Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes (which was produced by our bass player Shanir Blumenkranz) we decided to go in a much more of a rock direction. Our influences are less metal, and more sludge/grunge/noise rock, but who’s counting, I guess.  The Melvins, Sonic Youth, Frank Zappa and Zorn among many others would be influences…but let’s throw some Napalm Death in there for good measure.

TnJ: Yoshie, is Pitom going on tour at all for this album?
YF: We did a short tour in the Midwest, playing a festival in Detroit and a gig in Chicago.  And will be going to Eastern Europe to tour with our friends and labelmates AutorYno (Paris) at the end of May. Also, our NYC CD release is May 2nd!
TnJ: You guys have an awesome event coming up at the Rock Shop on May 2. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
YF: Leah and I have been talking about putting on an event together for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Leah is going to make some edibles from the cookbook and we are going to play music from our new record. Opening will be our good friends and killer band Gutbucket, and we’ll have special guest saxophonist Jessica Lurie sit in with us as well. Gonna be a blast!
LK: This show, which we’re calling Blasphmey and Bites, seemed like a great opportunity to combine our passions, have a great night, and get all of our friends (and hopefully some new faces too!) together in one place.

Delicious Apple Walnut Bread

Apple Walnut Bread

This super moist, nutritious quick bread is reminiscent of a Rosh Hashanah apple cake. For a twist, pour the batter into cupcake or muffin cups. Makes 2 loaves

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
Turbinado sugar (raw sugar; for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine both flours, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, mix together sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time to wet mixture and stir to combine. Pour wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in apples and walnuts (the batter will be very thick).

2. Lightly grease two loaf pans and spread half of the batter into each. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar and bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

April 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

The Drums at Mercury Lounge 4/7/11

Us TnJ-ers are fiercely loyal to our favorite bands. When we saw The Drums during CMJ, we got hooked on their live performance, and jumped on an opportunity to see them in an intimate setting again. This time, it was at Mercury Lounge, one of my personal top picks for best venue to see live music in NYC. Just the right capacity, and on a normal night, the crowd is less obnoxious than most.

The opener, to be blunt, was not really worth mentioning. To say we suffered through their pseudo-goth set is to be kind. However, other folks in the audience seemed to love it. So we’ll leave it at that.

We were there for The Drums, and only The Drums. Very rarely does such an enigmatic lead singer emerge who can pull off the surf rock, and super-nerdy fashion sense. You can’t tell from our photos, but he is wearing a t-shirt embroidered with the word “Paris,” TUCKED IN. A tucked in t-shirt!!!

Jonathan Pierce, lead singer of The Drums

Their set consisted of mostly songs off of their self-titled debut from last year, including but not limited to “Best Friend,” “It Will All End in Tears,” “Book of Stories,” and of course, “Let’s Go Surfing.”

An intimate Jonathan moment.

We were once again blown away by the charisma that everyone in the band exuded. They are all in their early 20s, but carry themselves as performers weathered way beyond their years. They played a few new (and very good) songs too, from an album that they mentioned will be coming out later this year.

The keyboardist had a flair for the dramatic.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have our best cameras with us and the crowd was a bit tall, but hopefully you can get a sense of how intimate and energetic the performance was. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming dates and releases; seeing them live is highly recommended.

April 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at Rose Water

Somehow, we here at TnJ had sort of forgotten about Park Slope’s Rose Water. DevoLT had a birthday brunch there many years ago that was great, and we live near there, but somehow had managed to not go there for years. Luckily, that was remedied with a fabulous brunch experience on a recent Sunday.

Rose Water is charming and popular, hence there will likely be a short wait for a table. We ended up in a kind of odd, almost private nook that was nice except for the constant door slamming right near us. Luckily, the food make up for any slight uncomfortableness. Rose Water offers a $14 brunch prix fixe which includes an entree and drink (choice of coffee, tea–hot or iced–or  juice or lemonade).

Rose Water's bread basket is chock full of yummy things waiting to be smeared with butter and/or jam.

We opted to start with a basket of breads for the table ($7) and it was well worth it. The basket comes with 2 of each of strawberry scone, challah bread, and ginger bread, as well as butter and jam. The strawberry scone was pretty much amazing and the challah was yummy and soft. The ginger bread was our least favorite, but if you like ginger you will surely enjoy its chunks of it.

The strawberry scone was sweet and delcious.

For our entrees we opted to get the special which was potato latkes with poached eggs and broccoli raab and mushrooms, and an order of the vegetarian dish, which is baked polenta with goat cheese, poached eggs, and a warm mushroom salad, which we swapped out for a regular salad.

Latkes with poached eggs

The latkes were perfectly cooked and tasted delicious with the runny yolks of the broken poached eggs on them. The whole dish was covered in a delicious red, somewhat spicy sauce that at first seemed out of place but then quickly melded with the rest of the dish. It was topped off with a nice queso fresco to tie in the red sauce.

Polenta cakes with goat cheese and poached eggs were vegetarian AND yummy.

The polenta in this dish was in cake form, and topped with a nice shmear of goat cheese and a tangy, vibrant pesto. The pesto also ran across the poached eggs and the fresh salad. This was a great, fresh dish that was filling but not overly so. The bread that accompanied it wasn’t really necessary with the polenta cakes, but we’ll take it!

So, if you’re looking for that perfect brunch spot for this weekend, here it is! Rose Water is a classy joint with great food and good service. What more could you ask for on a Sunday morning?

Rose Water
787 Union St.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
718-783-3800

April 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm 1 comment

JudyJams April 2011 Picks: Hunx and His Punx, Vetiver, Wires Under Tension, Wye Oak

Helloooo Spring! The April picks this month lean towards the sunny side of life, because that’s how we like it here at TnJ.

First pick is a band that I was sad that we had to miss at SXSW this year: Hunx and his Punx. Best band name ever, right?

Image via HardlyArt.com

Another in the series of killer girl (and one guy) groups that we’ve praised on the site for a while. Their full length Too Young to Be In Love came out on Hardly Art earlier in the month, and you can check out the title song here.

Second pick is the new album from Vetiver, called The Errant Charm, due out on Sub Pop June 14th. Advance notice yes, but it’s good to be in the know.

Image of Vetiver via Sub Pop

This is Vetiver’s fifth album for Sub Pop, and I can tell from the single “Can’t You Tell” (har har har) that it’s going to be decidedly uptempo. Check out the song here, and go to their website for tour news.

Third pick is a new discovery, a South Bronx based band called Wires Under Tension. Below is a video, done very DIY, for their song “Electricity Turns them On,” from their debut Light Science out now on Western Vinyl.

Their instrumental style reminds me of a more proggy version of The Mercury Program, or a less proggy version of Don Caballero, with violin thrown in the mix. Check out another song, “Mneominics in Motion,” here.

Fourth pick is an Israeli electronic artist called Side Brain whose album On the Second Moon of Earth just came out in March on Holy Dub Recordings.

Album cover image via Holy Dub Recordings

I’m a huge Prefuse 73 fan, and the beats on this album remind me of him, with a more video-game inspired influence. You can stream the entire album at Holy Dub Recordings’ bandcamp page, here.

Fifth pick, an album that I am currently in love with, is Wye Oak‘s newest, Civilian, out now on Merge.

Image of Wye Oak via Merge

A perfect musical pair; vocalist Jenn Wasner sounds like she was born to make music with all around instrumentalist Andy Stack. I’m just sad I discovered them so late in the game. This is the first time in a long while that an album has struck me right off the bat, at first listen, as being fantastic. Wasner’s rich voice will draw you in immediately. Check out the title song on their website, and what the heck, just buy the entire album, you won’t regret it.

Speaking of purchasing, don’t forget that Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 16th. We’re going to do a post on our findings in the next few weeks!

April 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

SXSW Highlights: A Pictorial of Music and Breakfast

It's SXSW all day every day at Stubb's in Austin. At least until the Gospel Brunch.

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs means business at the Other Music Lawn Party at French Legation on Friday, March 18

A horn section is always a good idea. These two played with tUnE-yArDs at French Legation as part of Other Music's Lawn Party.

tUnE-yArDs were the perfect band to play at Other Music's Lawn Party at French Legation. Lots of sun and grass and a big blue sky were the perfect backdrop for songs both old and new.

James Blake drew a huge crowd at the French Legation for Other Music's Lawn Party.

The Lawn Party's tent was filled with cloth flags--and lots of people. James Blake and his band impressed sxsw-goers with their stark brand of synth music.

 

Kurt Vile was obscured by his long hair most of the time, but at Club Deville he played a good mix of songs from his new album, Smoke Ring for My Halo.

 

Despite some technical issues with sound, and our vision being blocked by the dude in the green hat, Brooklyn's own Glasser played a lively set of songs from her debut Ring at Club Deville.

 

Since her sound equipment died at the end of her set, Glasser finished up with a beautiful a capella song.

And how could we not mention the breakfast tacos? More than one trip was made to Taco Deli, where many breakfast tacos were consumed. This one is the El Popeye, with spinach, egg, and queso fresco.

Taco Deli lets you choose your taco fillings if you desire. This is the potato, bean, and cheese selection.

 

This is the Jess Special; a Migas taco with fresh avocado and cheese!

There are lots more photos after the jump!

(more…)

April 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm 2 comments


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