Salsa Verde by Gomez

Posted on: 27 January 2010 2 comments

SALSA VERDE BY GOMEZ

Contrary to common belief, rock bands do actually like to eat. In fact, whenever I encounter a touring act that has just arrived for a soundcheck, the first thing they inquire about does not involve drinks, groupies or even narcotics. Nine out of ten will ask me, “Where’s good to eat around here?” Some, indeed have asked, “Who’s good to eat around here?”, but the less said about Norwegian Death Metal bands the better.

Perhaps it’s due to the mutual Bacchanalian love that we have for all things consumable, but some of the best food discussions I’ve had have been with musicians. I’m always fascinated by what they like to eat when they’re on the road and even more interested to hear about what they wolf down when they’re finally back home again. If you’ve just spent a few months gigging and acting the complete maggot, one surefire way to start feeling relatively sane again is to chow down on your favourite bits of comfort food. Even the most hardcore of rockers need a bit of chillax and the faint whiff of humanity will reappear in no time after a couple of days of home cooked fare and DVD box sets.

One act who were recently over in Dublin for a show in The Academy, took the time out to hit me up with their food and drink experiences. They are the wonderful Gomez, a band I’ve always had a keen ear for. Last year they released their sixth studio album which saw them tour the entire planet. Tom Gray (vox/guitar/bass/keyboards) was the honorary spokesman of the band that day and answered all my questions with a nice enthusiasm. I personally feel this type of interview is more interesting than the usual “what acts inspire you” kinda crap that you see all too much of. Tom also gave us a very nice recipe for Salsa Verde. I have given it a go and can safely say that his recommendation of roasting the garlic is indeed a top tip. Cheers Tom!

(This is the obligatory food/drink related question that all acts must be asked) What’s on your food rider?

- Cheese. The great leveller. Everyone likes cheese. Gastronomic proof
that everything in life tends towards the middle. Fresh fruit. Good
local bread if we can get it. Preferably a sourdough.

What’s the one food or dish that would make you instantly puke?

- Not at all squeamish about grub. I’m one of those annoying bastards
who preaches to everybody about getting over their squeamishness and
enjoying it all. If, like me, you preface a conversation about food
with, “I’m a big fan of offal.” people frequently run and hide behind
their chicken kiev.

Your earliest food memory is ………

- Probably something like eating my mum’s Lancashire hotpot with pickled
red cabbage. My dad was a local comprehensive school French teacher so
I’d be taken on school trips to France (the annoying teacher kid
foisted on the older kids) where, aged around nine, I had a food
epiphany eating oysters, mussels, winkles and langoustine off the same
plate. Never looked back.

The first time you got drunk, what did you drink and how much did
you consume?

- Classic family-party, stealing a bit out of every bottle. It was the
early-eighties so there was probably a fair amount of mild and bitter
being snuck out of 2-litre plastic bottles. Gotta love progress.

What’s the worst thing you can eat before going on stage?

- Something heavy and gas-inducing. Take your pick.

Have you ever gone on a whacky food diet?

- No, but I have discovered (and I’m sure you’ll laugh at that
obviousness/denial of it) that lager is my nemesis. When I was 23 I
could drink on tour like a fish no problem. These days, aged 32, if I
drink lager I go up a waist size over the course of a tour. All that
free beer backstage….. More of a red wine man these days, though
that’s hardly whacky, or technically a diet.

What’s your all time favourite hangover meal?

- The Australian breakfast. Essentially an English/Irish breakfast
(Post-colonialism. The relative national identities of breakfast?
There’s a thesis in there.) but cooked better, with fresher
ingredients and they oh-so-welcome addition of avocado. Mmmmmm. Eggs
must be poached too.

When you’re not on the road what do you like to cook at home?

- I recommend adding roasted garlic to your salsa verde. Take your
handful of flat leaf parsley, 4 or 5 anchovy fillets, tablespoon or so
of capers, a large gulp of olive oil, finely chop the lot, and then
squeeze 5 or 6 freshly roasted cloves into the mix. The sweetness of
the garlic really dramatically alters the salsa. It’s amazing with any
fish, pork or chicken.
Another joyful little treat is to add a couple of drops of truffle
oil to normal pouring honey and spoon it on your cheese. Real truffled
honey costs loads, don’t waste your cash. Try it tomorrow. You won’t
regret it.
Tom Gray, Gomez

Gomez will be touring North America soon. For dates check out http://www.gomeztheband.com/

DUBLIN DUMPLINGS

Posted on: 20 January 2010 3 comments

Chinese people call us Caucasians, “Gwilos”. I think it means something like White Ghost face. Personally, I don’t take any offence at that racial slur. Being Irish, my face could never be described as white. It is the unhealthy pink colour that most of us have from drinking too much, a head like a boiled arse, as they would say in county Wicklow. Besides, as far as I’m concerned, they can call me whatever the bleedin’ hell they want, because nobody even gets any of their names right over here.  To such an extent, that out of the dozens of Chinese people I have met in Ireland, I have yet to come across one that goes by their proper name.

There have been various bartenders and waitresses in my employment who hail from far flung, quaint sounding places in China, until they tell you that their hometown has a population of 12 million. Obviously, their family and mates, who arrived here before they did, all had one piece of advice, “The Irish are backwater peasants who eat cow dung and breathe alcohol. They are centuries away from mastering the pronunciation of foreign names. Just tell them you’re called John/Sue.”

Nearly all the Chinese blokes that I have met were either named John or Shane. And nearly all the birds have introduced themselves as Sue. There was of course the deranged loolah who stalked me for a job for two weeks and with a massive smile would stick out his right hand and eagerly proclaim, “Hi! My name is Sky! Like Sky News!” He’d come up to the bar and give you this outrageous monologue about his flawless work ethic and an even longer spiel about his hobbies and interests. Then he’d hand you his CV and that was the money shot. Because his entire introductory speech was actually his CV, word for word. If I wasn’t in, he’d ask for the nearest senior staff member and give him/her the same deal. A perfect recital of his curriculum vitae. Bonkers. He was so hilariously unstable that you’d nearly invent a job for him just to watch him in action. Not for him the dull dumbing down of one’s individuality, he was no John. For he was “Sky, like Sky News!”

Having said that, there was one particular barback who was working for us that liked to be called Vivienne.  Her culinary skills made up for her almost complete lack of English. During her break, she would lash out a whole load of her home made pork or shrimp dumplings, always enough for everyone. I’ve only started giving them a go recently but I reckon I’m getting the basics down. I like them cooked and served in a Chinese broth but you can pan fry them too. No doubt they taste nothing like they should, that’s why mine are called:

DUBLIN DUMPLINGS

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DUMPLINGS:

150 g of Pork Mince

150 g of Beef Mince

2 cloves of minced garlic

200 g of Chinese cabbage finely shredded (Asian Food Store, George’s St)

100 g of bean sprouts finely chopped

1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds

100g of Chinese Mushrooms (Asian Food Store, George’s St but normal mushrooms will be grand)

3 scallions

A small bit of water, about 1/3 cup or 70 ml

1 packet of frozen dumpling wrappers, get the circular ones. They defrost in a couple of hours sitting in your kitchen. Don’t get the won ton wrappers, they’re too delicate.

METHOD FOR THE DUMPLINGS:

- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan, til they darken slightly and turn golden. Remove and smash them up into a paste in a pestle and mortar.

- Fry the meat and garlic in a wok until it’s all cooked through.

- Put the cabbage, mushrooms and bean sprouts through a blender. Mix them all up with the meat and the water in the wok. Cook it through for a few minutes til the water evaporates.

- Mix your sesame seeds and scallions in.

- You now have to start making the dumplings by taking each individual wrapper and placing about a teaspoon of the meat mix into the centre of it. You then have to wet the rest of the pastry with a water dampened paint brush and then seal it up by folding the wet sides into each other. After a couple you’ll be grand at it and you start turning into a bit of a dumpling machine. Like I said, you can cook them in a hot broth or fry them. Carefully drop them into a hot broth until they plump out, shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Here’s how you make the broth. It’s fairly bog standard but it’s tasty.

INGREDIENTS:

- A 3cm piece of fresh ginger, very finely cut.

- 2 litres of a good beef stock.

- 2 tablespoons of Chinese Rice Wine (Asian Food Store, George’s St, it’s only a fiver a bottle. Don’t be a muppet and drink it, you’re only supposed to cook with it)

- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

- Some chopped scallions to garnish.

METHOD:

Put the stock, ginger, wine and soy sauce into a pot and simmer it for 15 minutes. Garnish with spring onions.

If you’re serving the dumplings in the soup you can brighten it up with some pak choi and some extra bean sprouts.

P.S. I should mention that you can make the meat filling and broth well in advance and even freeze them. As you can see from the photos here, my freezer is jammers with previously made batches.

Dub dumplings2

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