Hypnotic Brass Breakfast

Posted on: 19 October 2012 No comments

There is a common misconception about touring musicians that is as often held by themselves as by those they surround themselves with. Contrary to popular belief, they do not always have Superhuman abilities to drink their hoops off without getting dog rough hungover. To illustrate that point, I’d like to draw your attention to the first time Hypnotic Brass Ensemble played Dublin.

Twas a few years back. The great folk in Choice Cuts brought 8 brothers from Chicago who all played different brass instruments to The Sugar Club – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s virgin Irish show. They flew in from the states on a Friday afternoon, after a sleepless journey. When they arrived for sound check the collective testosterone that came off them was intense. Sibling rivalry was definitely in the air and I quickly realized that they wanted to have some serious craic. When I offered to grab them all some coffees, at least two of them shouted out, “and throw a little a Jameson in mine.”

The gig was truly outstanding. The crowd were mesmerized. Especially some of the female audience members. One of whom was so smitten, she performed a relatively public sexual act on her preferred band member in the backstage room. And while not all of the lads may not have been chasing the Mná Na Heireann, every single one of them was dying to get stuck into the stout and whiskey. They wanted a proper Irish session and by fuck they got one. It was like a re-enactment of a Guinness marketing manager’s wet dream. Super slick band play a wicked gig and 400 people are buying them pints.

The next morning I get a call from Mark in Choice Cuts. He tells me that the band got locked after the show and a couple of them left their instruments back stage. That was all well and good but the problem was they were due to be on a London bound plane soon and needed to get back into the club to pick up their gear. So Mark picks me up and we run out to the hotel to talk to the band about who left what and to start packing them . They all started falling out the door. Everyone of them, absolutely dying. A few of them had been sick. A few had to go home early. Another one or two said they were never drinking again. And none of them got laid. Quite simply, they just couldn’t keep up with the Dubs.

The band came back to play more shows in The Sugar Club and in other venues. Every time I’d see them I’d remind them of the pitiful state they were all in that morning and we’d share a laugh. A couple of years later, I found myself stranded in Dublin airport trying to attend my Uncle Eddie’s funeral in New Jersey. Volcanic ash from Iceland meant that they cancelled my flight. At the check in, I saw the lads from Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. We were all meant to be on the same flight. They were due to get a connecting flight to Coachella to play their biggest show yet with Snoop Doggy Dog. A major pay loss for the band. So I rang Mark from Choice Cuts and suggested we do a fundraiser for them the next day in The Sugar Club. With 24 hours notice, we sold the show out and all the door proceeds went straight to the band. It was a wicked gig with a lovely energy in the room. The band were really humbled by everyone’s generosity and repeatedly thank the audience. Great blokes.

The band are back in town tomorrow night with the Beck’s Vier Weekender, playing in Meeting House Square. Hypnotic never fail to deliver. They are a fucking brilliant act and as I have noted previously, dab hands in the kitchen. I had a brief phone chat with apparently the best chef in the band, Hudah, who plays trumpet. All of the brothers were raised vegetarians. According to Hudah this diet choice often caused problems for him growing up in the south side of Chicago.

“When you’re the only kid in a class of 29 others, who doesn’t eat meat – you get toughened up pretty quickly. Constant teasing.”

But he still sticks to his vegetarian guns. “Food is not all about what’s on your plate. Food is about how you season it.”

And he certainly aint afraid to throw in the flavours. Whenever he’s not on the road, he cooks himself up a kick ass American Vegetarian breakfast consisting of loaded eggs on pancakes or grits. This is how he does it.

HYPNOTIC BRASS BREAKFAST

Hudah

Hudah from Hypnotic. He plays a mean trumpet and cooks a wicked brekkie.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of grits or polenta

4 eggs

1 scallion, thinly sliced

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1/2 red pepper

6 florets of steamed broccoli

1 tablespoon of sharp cheddar

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of butter

METHOD:

Stir the polenta with some boiling water on a low heat. Put the lid on for two minutes, take it off and keep stirring til it’s softened. Then throw in one clove of garlic into it with the soy sauce to flavour it. Take it off the heat, put the lid back on and leave it for a bit.

Melt the butter in a pan and fry off the pepper, scallion, garlic and broccoli. Beat the eggs in bowl and throw in the cayenne with some salt. Cook them lightly in the pan and add in the eggs. Scramble them through with the cheese.

Serve the eggs on top of the polenta.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are playing tomorrow night at Meeting House Square and on the 28th at The Cork Jazz Festival.

Sorry that I’ve been slacking off here. Still up to me nads trying to open Damson Diner. It will be very soon, I promise! Please do us a favour and share the love on facebook and twitter. Give us an auld like or a follow!

MEADOWSWEET IN MOSCOW

Posted on: 5 October 2012 1 comment

There is no such thing as karma.  How have I come to this conclusion?  Because a week ago I decided to knock the auld gargoyle on the head for a bit and for seven days now, I’ve been fighting off a poxy manflu. It seems like every time I try take a break from alcohol, I get sick. If such a cosmic force as an all seeing, all knowing, clean living “universe” or Earth Goddess such as, karma actually existed, then I’d be full of the joys of Rocktober and whistling Dixie.

And why am I giving me liver a break? Because I was at The Moscow Bar Show last week and ended up over indulging a wee bit, as one does at such liquor laced events. I am also EXCEPTIONALLY busy at the moment trying to get Damson Diner ready. We want to start trading in a couple of weeks and there’s an endless amount of work to do. No harm keeping a clear head for that! But back to Russia.  I was asked by the good folk in Jameson to do a demo at what must be one of the world’s largest bar shows. The venue was gargantuan, about 4 times the size of The Point Depot.  It was an all encompassing, massive  expo that covered every aspect of the bar and catering trade.  As was said in Phoenix Nights, “Everything Under The One Roof, Sunshine Indoors”.

Every brand that you could think of had a stall at it. And because this was Moscow, where Bling is King, they were all trying to outdo each other in terms of how big a production they could put on for potential customers. The Jagermeister stall tried to re-enact some sort of blacked out private club with it’s own VIP rope on the door and a black leather clad hostess with a clip board. Most of the Russian booze brands had scantily clad promo girls or those ones who are actually naked and just painted all over. It’s enough to give any lad a creaky neck, at the very least.  The more multinational companies had to operate with a higher level of political correctness – alas, no nudey chicks. Both Diageo and Pernod Ricard had stalls that took on an educational approach to wooing over buyers and bartenders. They flew various peeps from around the globe to share their individual passions and booze secrets.  That was the reason for me being there. I spoke about and did a demo with the flavours of Ireland with Jameson.  I had to bring over 10 different bottles of either infused Jameson or my own cordials and syrups. Miraculously, they all survived the journey.

Mixed my favourite whiskey with things like Damson syrup, date and hawthorn syrup, apple and wild Irish elderflower. It all had to be translated so everything I said tended to be given in short statements to allow for the punters to keep up with me.  What was really cool was the realization that most of the ingredients I was featuring, were also available in Russia. It meant they could genuinely pick something up from my waffling. Most surprisingly was the sea buckthorn. This was something that I had only recently been made aware of. Our forager Vinny gave me some and I kinda went mad with it. I didn’t think that the Russians would be familiar with it, but it turns out that it’s really big there. They never mixed it with Jameson and orange blossom though and I genuinely enjoyed their positive reaction to the sample cocktail I made for them.

There was another drink I lashed out that seemed to get an interesting response and a few questions from the audience. The Meadowsweet Martini. It was made up of a good healthy dose of Jameson and an all Irish cordial that contained three different wild ingredients. Meadowsweet flowers that are dried and pounded into a powder, they gave it a lovely flavour, similar to camomile. Dried Alexander seeds – they taste like pepper so they give the drink a spicy bite. Rowanberries for a little bitterness and colour.

MEADOWSWEET MARTINI

Meadowsweet

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon of Meadowsweet powder. If you don’t have any, tough. Get some next year, it’s wicked.

1 teaspoon of wild Alexander seeds. You can still pick these now.

1 teaspoon of Rowanberries. They’re all over the shop.

750 ml of water

3 tablespoons of sugar

50 ml of Jameson for the cocktail

METHOD:

Get the water in a pot and boil it.

Place the meadowsweet, alexander seeds and rowanberries in the pot. Stir them up.

Bring the heat on the water to a simmer. Stir for a couple of minutes. Then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot and leave it overnight.

The next day, strain the pot through a jam strainer or muslin cloth.  Heat that liquid in a pot and melt the sugar into it. That’s your cordial done.

Chill a martini glass with some ice. Shake the Jameson with 35 ml of the cordial. Remove the ice from the glass and then strain the shaker.

Damson.cordials

My lovely Damson Diner cordials. All safe and sound after travelling to Moscow.

The rest of the show was characteristically mad.  Take for instance the lad who was selling knives. Label under, only in Moscow.

Moscow.1

Honestly. There is no good reason why you should be flogging knives like these at a trade fair. They aint for the kitchen folks.

There were parties a go go on hosted by the brands afterwards. We imbibed and had the craic.  I’d love to go back again, but with some more time to see sights like these.

Moscow.2

The absolutely stunning St. Basil’s Church on Red Square. Only had a couple of hours for sightseeing. I made sure to go here.

While Russia’s capital did live up to certain cliches and crazy expectations, it very often left me gobsmacked. Many thanks to those who were responsible for bringing me there and looking after me so well.

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