Everyone’s life can be hectic from time to time, and sometimes here in Nashville we feel as though we’ve been sequestered into seclusion (when it comes to family and friends). This post is intended to be an update for what is going on up here and the stages of life Scott and I are going through.
The most imminent life change we are about to go through (me more directly) would be that I am starting back to school this coming Monday. After a three-year hiatus from tests and homework, I have decided to rejoin the realm of the classroom learner. For about the past four to five years, I progressively and earnestly became more and more interested in food, nutrition and the classic fundamentals of culinary arts and have a blog and journals filled with recipes to prove it. During my short internship with Southern Living magazine I was afforded the opportunity to get to see how the test kitchen worked and food has been my obsession ever since. About a year ago I decided that self teaching, a job as a baker at a local Nashville establishment, books and independent research were no longer enough to quell the desire for more knowledge on the subject and that led to the decision to start researching and saving for culinary school. In a digital world where anyone can be a self proclaimed “expert,” I have determined that I want to go through a more classical training to gain the knowledge that I crave and to become a credible member of the culinary society. Thankfully, due to courses transferring from my prior education, this process should only take about a year to complete.
Another big change for us is our recent undertaking with a local startup apparel company called 1907 Apparel. Scott is charged with doing what he does best by heading up the Creative Development side of things. He’s writing, brainstorming and making contacts with people to get the word out about this awesome company. I offer up my photographic services to the team as well. 1907 Apparel at its core is about helping build communities. Every purchase helps in one of three areas: Poverty, Education and Sustainable Agriculture. If you’d like to learn more about 1907 Apparel, their story and their products you can click here to learn more.
I believe it is important to note here that I have not given up on photography. I am still scheduling photography work in my free time and still love and enjoy it as an art form. Maybe someday I will be able to find a way to combine culinary arts with my visual journalism degree in ways other than our blog. Scott and I are also in the works of our own start up business here in Nashville and hope to bring details of this venture to you soon, but we will see what the future holds.
Despite all this, we still plan to continue posting to this site about our many adventures out-and-about Nashville, in the kitchen and in our travels. Scott is currently writing a piece about our recent trip to Fall Creek Falls and our fun and mishaps canoeing on the Harpeth river and I have peppers roasting in the oven as we speak. The format may change a little as I am hoping to spend more time sharing what I will be learning in school at the time, but the content will mostly remain the same. Just me and Scott,”lovin’ life, lovin’ each other.”
It seems limiting to say that Best Coast’s music is simple summer music. Not that that isn’t the band’s goal, seen so evidently in their 2010 self-titled debut album and even more so in today’s follow-up, The Only Place, which releases today on Mexican Summer records. That is definitely the goal. (Just look at that first album cover.) I doubt Best Coast even tours in fall and winter. I picture lead singer Bethany Consentino stocking up her house with supplies in late September like a sad bear, resigned to do nothing until the next March, when she will re-emerge with the sun and offer more summer music to the world.
Of course, this isn’t true because Bethany Consentino lives in California, where it is always sunny and everyone’s happy, and she would very much like you to know that. It takes all of about, oh, 12 seconds into The Only Place to be thrust into Consentino’s love letter with the state. “We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair,” she says. Whoa, California! What a place to be. “When we get bored we like to sit around, sit around and stare.” Oh. Yeah, The Only Place isn’t the place to go for deep lyrical introspection. But that’s not why people, me included, very much like Best Coast.
We very much like Best Coast because we very much like things like lakes and cars and summer and all the things that glossy guitars, fuzzy distortion, poppy vocals and upbeat ’60s-style melodies evoke. So, yeah, I guess this is the part where I have to say that Best Coast is simple summer music; Crazy For You, Best Coast’s 2010 debut, was 31:32 long. The Only Place clocks in at 34:44. So you can pretty much listen to every song the band has ever written in the time it takes to get through your basic Arcade Fire album (and you’ll be much happier by the time you’re done).
But it’s so obvious to just label Best Coast summer music and be done; can’t there be something more? Consentino’s relentless devotion to her formula seems at times ironic—these are songs anyone could write, sometimes just skeletons of songs that lurk deeper, really. The lyrics are words she could have written in a speedwriting test before bed. “We wake up with the sun in our eyes, It’s no surprise that we get so much done, But we always, yes we always, we always have fun, Yes we always, yes we always, we always have fun.”
In this sense, the ingredients behind the band’s success almost seem like throwaways. Consentino could be (and sometimes is) singing “la la la la la la la” and would still be just as effective as if she were opining on war. The thing is that it’s not worth talking about the lyrics, or the fuzz, or whether Best Coast is “lo-fi” or what that even means, or how the group’s second album is different than the first, or whether Consentino hides her voice behind the fuzz and glam. I don’t think they’re here for that. The music is so simple, so approachable, that it’s really only worth exploring in one sense: how it makes you feel. And isn’t that the point of all music anyway?
If Crazy For You was 31 minutes of a girl longing for summer and innocence and maybe a boy or two along the way, The Only Place is about longing to get all of it back. Though the lyrical depth doesn’t go much deeper than your typical rain gutter, that doesn’t mean the songs are lacking in impact; Consentino’s songs on The Only Place run the typical pop songstress gamut of love, home, family, expectations, and boredom that seem almost born out of Best Coast’s recent popularity. When she sings “I don’t want to be how they want me to be,” you can take it as a 20-something shirking the expectations on her generation, or on a singer flipping the bird to critics who at first disparaged Consentino for hiding behind her lo-fi sound and are now dogging on her for glamming it up a bit.
What Best Coast is doing and experiencing isn’t new. But often we confuse newness and freshness in music—what Best Coast is doing is definitely fresh, and that’s a great thing, and it’s the reason why The Only Place was probably my second-most anticipated album of the year. (Where you at, Avett Brothers?!) So it’s not worth worrying about what the band is going to do to its sound going forward, or whether the lyrics are on a 3rd grade level, or how we were expecting Crazy For You and have gotten something different. Best Coast is what it is. And maybe I’m overanalyzing a 30-minute pop album, but there’s something that resonates in good music. I’ve got memories tied to Best Coast, and we’re only two full albums into their discography. That’s got to mean something, right? I think Bethany feels it too. “When will I go home?” she sings. “Nowhere compares to home.”
Notes from Jess on the recipe: This is the perfect fun refreshment for a warm day. It’s not quite so loaded up with sugar as your average soda, but still has tons of flavor and natural sweetness. You can really use whatever kind of berries you like. For this particular one I used strawberries and blackberries because that’s what looked best at the market. But as we get later into the spring and earlier into the summer, all the berries are going to get more beautiful and sweet. If you want to make this an adult cocktail, add some rum or vodka to your glass. It’s fantastic!
This recipe calls for a particular kitchen gadget called a sieve. Basically, this is to ensure that the juice is very smooth and there are no seeds in the mix. Remember this is supposed to be more like a drink than a smoothie. If you don’t have a sieve, but have a mesh colander or a cheese cloth, that will work just as well. Make sure you remember to freeze a few berries ahead of time for an added treat in your drinks.
All-in-all this is a super easy, inexpensive and delectable summer treat that is great for kids and adults alike. The fizziness, without the caffeine, and the natural sweetness, without all the added preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, are the perfect accompaniment to Best Coast with its poppy sounds and distinct musical flavor. This drink and Best Coast take me to my happy place, and it’s the only place for me. The recipe is below. Cheers!
Click here for a printable version of the Recipe Card
This is one of those meals that we just kind of threw together that really worked. A lot of the time when you’re really busy/tired/hungry, it’s easy to fall into a food trap and end up just eating junk. This recipe is the perfect counter for that and will be ready in no time at all. One of Scott’s favorite things in the world is french bread, he could literally eat it every day, so what we ended up making was a sort of hot bruschetta.
Basically, we sauteed a multitude of fresh chopped veggies just for a few minutes in a little oil and herbs. Then, in lieu of pasta or rice, which took too much time for our hungry bellies, we took some toasted bread, (we used french of course but you can use whatever you like) and smothered it with our veggies. Finished it off with some diced feta and olives and we were stuffed in no time flat. A perfect quick warm weather dinner for a family on the go, packed with nutritious foods that will keep you full.
Just use whatever you have in the fridge if you don’t have these items. This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers. It would also be good served chilled and spooned over the top of your toasted bread. Next time, skip the boxed macaroni and cheese when you’re hungry and need a quick meal. This is so much better! The recipe is below. Cheers!
Click here for a printable version of the Recipe Card
One of the coolest parts of living in Nashville is discovering all the little hidden gems around town. That doesn’t just mean restaurants, either—it’s hard to keep a good restaurant a secret long around here, and it never takes long for even a tiny closet of a dive in Nashville to become overrun with foodies and others scoping out what all the hype is about.
No, I’m talking about the other gems—the markets, the special events, the less-publicized things-to-do that interest food and food culture lovers. Look hard enough and you can always find some sort of movie or discussion or talk somewhere in the city about a food issue, and we found a great one this week with “A Place At The Table,” the weekly dinner hosted by Martha Stamps, known for her work with Martha Stamps Catering and FEAST Together. “A Place At The Table,” hosted at West End United Methodist Church downtown, is a $10 per person weekly dinner held every Wednesday at 6. The food (as, you know, it’s hosted by the lady running Martha Stamps catering) is as excellent as it is earth- and vegetarian-friendly: This week’s menu consisted of chicken salad, roasted new and sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms, and glazed carrot cake.
After the dinner there is a movie or a presentation or a talk of some sort relating to food, food culture, or, as in this week’s case, clean-earth initiatives. It was really interesting and completely worthwhile, and we left with a pretty sweet Swag Bag from Home Depot filled with light bulbs, power strips, reusable shopping bags, and other cool stuff.
There were probably close to 100 people at the church for dinner, and probably 40 or so stayed for the presentation. It’s very low pressure, and you don’t at all have to be a member of the church to attend. (We had never walked in the door before 5:55 p.m. Wednesday.) All in all, if you’re looking for a cool way to get out in the middle of the week, A Place At The Table is a really cool option by a lady doing a lot for sustainability in and around Nashville. It’s a hidden gem, alright—that was right under our noses the whole time.
From time to time we’ll be guest posting on a national food and restaurant review site called 2 Dine For. They spotlight areas like Nashville, Boston and Houston, but occasionally have reviews from other locations as well.
For our first guest post we made a home version of a local restaurant’s dish in what 2 Dine For likes to call “Recipe Box.” Click here to read the whole story.
We visited City House, a local Nashville favorite, and had their famous pork belly pizza with a farm fresh egg on top. If you live in Nashville and haven’t tried it, you must.
We flexed our at-home culinary muscles to attempt to recreate the wonderful dinner. We made our own pizza dough, used thick cut prosciutto, dried red pepper flakes, parmigiano reggiano, and a fresh egg on top. Almost as good as the original. Have I piqued your interest? Want the recipe? Well you’ll have to head over to 2 Dine For to get it. Be on the look out for our other upcoming guest posts as well. Cheers!
Scott will tell you, I don’t throw stuff away. Not in a creepy evening television show kind of way, but in a I refuse to waste any left over foods kind-of-way. We ended up with some extra wonton wrappers in our fridge and I wanted to use them all up. So we made ravioli. Not exactly the most authentic way of making these tasty little pillows of carbohydratey goodness, but still tasty none-the-less.
Some pastas and sauces can leave you feeling weighted down, but not this one. It’s light, refreshing and flavorful while filling you up enough so that you’re not hungry an hour later. The cannellini beans give the ravioli a nice meaty texture, butter and goat cheese add a richness, spinach brings a little freshness to the table and the acidity from the vinegar and lemon juice cuts through all that with a delightfully zesty one-two punch. A note on the pasta— I used a pastry cutter to finish off the edges, but it isn’t necessary. It just makes it look pretty!
Scott pointed out that the bean filling for the raviolis would be a perfect dip for crackers. Noted by the fact that I had to kick him out of the kitchen because I wasn’t going to have enough to finish the raviolis if I let him stay. It was the perfect meal for a warm spring day and we can’t wait to make it again. We may not even wait until we have left over wonton wrappers to make it next time.
The recipe is below. Cheers!
Click here for a printable version of the Recipe Card