Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


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The Loveless Cafe, Music City Roots and the Missing Biscuit Recipe

MCR

There’s only one way to describe the final Bushwackers show in Nashville and that is simply Going Out With A Bang (and a broken Lagerphone). Staged live at the Loveless Barn behind the famous Loveless Cafe we performed a set of tunes on the weekly two-hour Music City Roots radio show hosted by Jim Lauderdale. English ex-pat, founder of the band Traffic and rhythm guitarist on Hendrix’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ plus composer of ‘Feelin’ Alright’ Dave Mason opened the night followed by a special showcase of Australian acts including Mustered Courage, Melody Pool, Catherine Britt and Bill Chambers as The Hillbilly Killers and the indisputable Aussie music legend Paul Kelly. This performing vehicle, via simultaneous radio and web-cast enabled the voice of the Bushwackers to be well and truly heard by the packed-to-the-rafter audience and music fans world-wide, a tremendous and unforgettable experience.

BootsThis is our second last day in Nashville and we are certainly trying to pack in as much as possible in between our finale performances. We’ve sound-checked early afternoon at the Loveless and have a few hours before show-time so shopping is now on the agenda. We head to Oprymills, a massive retail-outlet shopping mall of steroidal proportion – Tennessee’s largest. Architecturally designed in a giant circle spanning two kilometres, satellite navigation is needed to find your way around this building and it’s almost impossible figuring out where it starts and ends. An entire day is needed here to shop leisurely and find exactly what you want but we only have one hour to spare?  I hit the ground running and manage to buy all the necessary items ordered by family back home within this time-frame, and am even shown by one shop assistant a short-cut, staff-only passage down endless lonely grey corridors through the bowels of the building in order to get to the other side of the mall in half the time. Miraculously, it worked as had no idea when or if I would make it out alive and emerge directly in front of a Cowboy Boot Warehouse.  With five minutes to spare, I snatch up a very nice pair of Dan Post, hand-crafted Mexican-made boots, the real deal. The shop assistant clinched the sale by telling me I simply can not leave Nashville without them. (She’s right. I have worn them nearly every day since returning to Sydney, they are fabulously comfortable and blister-proof too).

Halloween is on the horizon

Halloween is on the horizon

The credit-card action and lightning-speed of the shopping has made us all ravenous. Lucky for us the Loveless Cafe is catering for the evening before the show, and what a delectable spread is presented of pure heart and soul, traditional Southern cooking at it’s best. The food is assuredly made with love even though the cafe name suggests otherwise. Mashed potato, the most silky smooth, buttery (no lumps whatsoever) I have ever tasted with luscious red-eye gravy to match; Melt in your mouth, tenderly cooked fried chicken, delicate but with just enough special Loveless spices making it a bit ‘too’ moorish; sautéed green beans and then last but most certainly not least, the biscuits – ceremoniously piled high in a large bowl that kept getting refilled again and again. With accompanying preservative-free made on the premises peach, blackberry and strawberry preserves, these biscuits are what the Loveless Cafe, besides being a go-to restaurant by both struggling and famous country musicians in search of relief-from-the-road comfort food for decades,  is most famous for. Yes, it’s all about the biscuits here.

Loveless Cafe Famous Biscuits

Loveless Cafe Famous Biscuits

Whilst boot-scooting around Oprymills earlier in the afternoon, the same shop assistant who sent me into the unknown, after informing her we were performing at the Loveless just about fell over herself with excitement and flapped on about these biscuits and that I MUST try them, along with the preserves as they are the best. They look like scones, and pretty much taste like scones and are decidedly yummy especially with the creamy butter swirls and fruity preserves loaded on top. We are a happy band and ready to take to the stage at this point, and we do just this to a resounding, standing ovation – The Broken lagerphone representing testimonial of the triumph.

Loveless CafeIt occurs to me a nice gesture would be to try to recreate this magnificent Loveless Cafe meal upon returning to Sydney as a sort of ‘Nashville Reunion’ and synopsis of the trip with the band members who have all shared this unique experience.  I buy the Loveless Cafe Cook Book which am told includes all the famous recipes for everything we were served tonight. Listed in the index are recipes for the fried chicken, the red-eye gravy, mashed potatoes and even the blackberry and strawberry preserves. Nothing under ‘B’ for biscuits. Nothing at all. Further research uncovers that this recipe is under wraps and was sold by the original cafe owners to the current owners along with the cafe and never to be revealed!

Guess will just have to cook up a batch of Margaret Fulton Scones instead 🙂

* The web-cast recording of the entire Music City Roots concert can be viewed here

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There’s No Salad Here Darlin’, This Is A Honky-Tonk !

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If you happen to be a deep fried food fanatic and like all of your meals to contain large components of melted cheese laden with potato chips, a Honky-Tonk is the restaurant most accommodating.  Alternatively if you are a calorie-counter, satisfaction will not come in the form of food but from listening to the bands play some of the greatest Country Music you will ever hear on the planet. I have already been transported to heaven listening to fiddler Aubrey Haynie on my first night out in Nashville and wonder if any more music I hear during my stay will match his level of excellence. And of course, it does just this at the World Famous Nashville Palace. The go-to venue for a complete dose of fine Western Swing and true tradition, performed by musicians well-trained and often descended from a long line of Hillbilly and Appalachian Ancestry.

Nashville PalaceToday we are watching the Spaghetti Westerneers who are performing a four-hour set with only one short break and the place is packed. Song after song of sweet, slick, well executed tradition by the masters. Twin Fiddles, Accordion, Bass, Guitar and a lead singer who has similar pipes to Roy Orbison (and an un-canny resemblance to Elvis, he surely must be an impersonator outside of working with the Westerneers).  The walls are lined with row upon row of cowboy boots and flourescent neon beer signs. This is Honky-Tonk Heaven at it’s best and in the words of Neil Young, ‘Are you ready for the country?’ We most certainly are.

Nashville Palace Menu

Nashville Palace Menu

The twin-fiddle action is making me hungry so consult the menu. Unlike other Nashville eateries, there is no mention of anything remotely like a salad. It’s all burgers, fried everything and more plus white bread sandwiches and I’ve forgotten the hand-bag almonds so will have to order something. I ask the very friendly waitress (as they all are in Nashville) the possibility of just a salad? Oh no this is not possible she replies, Honky-Tonks do not serve salad. As am still trying to avoid bread and cheese at all costs, I try to order the Turkey and Swiss Sandwich, but please hold the bread, the cheese and the chips so all that’s left will be the lettuce and tomato. Both the waitress and I have a laugh at how ridiculous this is and she says ‘Sorry Honey, nice try’.  I go in hard. A salad is out of the question and am curious to how they taste so settle for Fried Pickle Spears with Ranch Dressing instead. Washed down with a glass of Chardonnay, they were actually OK but I conclude those delicious American Dill Pickles are quite fine just as they are. Why fry them?

Stainless Steel Silver Bird Sculpture at Shelby Park, Nashville

Stainless Steel Silver Bird Sculpture at Shelby Park, Nashville

As the week evolves I discover almost anything fried will appear on a menu in America, even Coca-Cola.  Healthy restaurants certainly do exist but research is essential to find them before venturing out for a meal – the Urbanspoon App was useful for this task. Besides the almonds, I had better start carrying around an iceberg lettuce as well. In the mean time the music we are being exposed to is enough soul nourishment and I am yet to see the world-famous Time-Jumpers at Third and Lindsley. To be continued 🙂


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Govindas and The Gympie Muster

Muster Main Stage

Muster Main Stage

Driza-bones, Cowboy Hats, Bundaberg Rum, Pluto Pups, XXXX, Boots, Dust and Country Music. These are just some of the elements in no shortage at the Gympie Muster where I have spent the last four days performing.  Set in the beautiful location of the Amamoor Forest Reserve in Queensland Australia, this festival is not for the faint-hearted. This Festival is tailored for die-hard country music fans who are well-seasoned Musterites happy to spend a few days temporarily removed from reality, donning the appropriate Muster gear, yelling choruses of songs about utes, beer, cows and pink guitars while drowning in a sea of Bundy.

For a Musician who has several performances at this festival, the Muster experience usually involves being prepared and match-fit when it comes to the food options. There are long walks involved, carrying gear from venue to venue (there is on-site Artist Transport, but this is ‘unintentionally’ on occasions not so reliable due to the hectic scheduling of hundreds of musicians and gear needed carting around the many different venues) on-top of the actual performance energy required, so it is essential that nourishing food be sourced and this is not such an easy or in most cases cheap task. Being a performer, I have been sent my Muster Pack by email prior to the Festival with a list of handy hints and Artist Services that will be available. A piece of information included in the Pack mentions there will be refreshments and light snacks available for all performers at a place called Artist World and this is encouraging news.  The first gig of the Muster for me is with The Bushwackers on the Main Stage and we will be required to hang around there so there’ll be no time to get acquainted with various food stalls around the site which is fine as will have a fair amount of hurry-up-and-waiting time over the next few days to do just this.

Artist Refreshments

Artist Refreshments

There is fruit, luckily. Then there is a bowl of assorted chocolates and lollies, a huge bottom-less pit bowl of smarties then another with a selection of snack-pack school lunch size chip packets.  Some instant coffee satchels plus several mini-bar fridges chockablock full of festival sponsor Red Bull. With the exception of the fruit, once again my handbag almonds have come to the rescue as we’ve no time to source anything more substantial before jumping on stage to set-up then perform for thousands of Muster revellers on the hill.

Our accommodation is off-site at the Conference Centre back in Gympie which is welcoming as it is away from the mayhem and general racket of the festival. Unlike some other musicians, I much prefer this to the on-site complimentary artist tent accommodation where I would have been an un-happy camper exposed to evening temperatures dipping as low as minus six degrees Celsius, braveness indeed. Also, the conference centre provides breakfast and I am ravenous the next morning having passed on the lollies and chips for dinner the night before. It consists of poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, fruit, a selection of cereals juices and an adequate coffee machine with an espresso option. A good start to the day so far, I am happy and nourished for the long day ahead.

My first gig today is with The Bushwackers at the Crowbar. Playing accordion for seventy-five minutes in this high-energy band burns energy and calories in aerobic proportion so again the handbag almonds are useful, but I’m still ravenous after this show and now have some time to search for some decent food. Something am hoping is as healthy as possible amongst the plethora of hot-chips and pluto-pup outlets. Word has it from some veteran Muster musicians there is such a place, Govindas. All vegetarian and all good so I set out to find it. It’s a bit of a treck from the Crowbar where we have just performed, trundling along past the main stage hill and swimming through a sea of Driza-Bones but after a bit of searching (it’s a little hard to locate not being as flashy or lit-up as some of the other food outlets) I see it.

Govindas

Govindas

Govindas, as the sign above the hut says is Pure Vegetarian and ‘The Taste of Transcendence’. Judging by the genuinely friendly smile on the face of the young guy serving behind the counter, I just know already that I WILL taste the love in this food. He offers two plate sizes $5 for a small or $11 for a bit of everything. So far it’s looking like good value, I’m also hungry so go for the larger plate. The food is of Satvik nature which is traditional Hare Krishna recipes the body best harmonises with – Harmonious Food, how ingenious and apt for musicians. Piled high on an eco-friendly bio-degradable plate made of sugar-cane plus accompanying fork made of corn starch, I receive a creamy curry loaded with vegetables on a bed of jasmine rice, a generous serve of Kofta balls with a spicy tomato sauce and a Halava dessert (semolina and cardamom). I am most definitely transcended far away from pluto-pup land after eating this meal and will certainly be making a return visit before the end of the festival. Well nourished and happy, I’m ready for my next gig. The Torn and Frayed Show – a country rock tribute featuring some of my most favourite musicians. Thank you Govindas 🙂

Big Biodiesel Ute - and THOSE boots

Big Biodiesel Ute – and THOSE boots


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The Mystery Box

The Mystery Box

The Mystery Box

Unless you are lucky enough to regularly fly First or Business Class, chances are high that you have at some point experienced some pretty ordinary and disappointing air-line food. On top of this, the food outlets at most major airport terminals nowadays are like walking through a Westfield Food Court, a place I usually keep my distance from. However when you have to catch a flight somewhere there’s no choice but to amble to the departure gate, wading past all the red and yellow big M’s, Hungry Jacks and Krispy Kreme counters. There are some healthier options like Sumo Salad, Sushi Train and Boost, but at $15 for a Mango Tango and a small fruit salad? I’ve already paid for travel or parking costs to Sydney Airport, hidden overweight baggage fees at check-in and a weak $4.50 double shot flat-white while waiting for the other band members to arrive. The wallet has already had a decent work-out.

I feel some-what comforted by the fact that today I am getting on a Qantaslink flight from Tamworth to Sydney after doing a gig with The Bushwackers there last night, so I will be given food rather than having to purchase something like a triangular plastic packaged stale egg and lettuce sandwich on Virgin, Jetstar or (gulp) Tiger Airways.  Their in-flight menus say they are fresh, but I think this means ‘freshly thawed’ not ‘freshly made’. If you are a highly organised person you’d prepare and take your own food. But if I have an interstate gig, before leaving home am more concerned with making sure I have all instruments and stage gear needed, not what sort of nourishment for flight duration. I do however carry a bag of almonds with me always. Almonds in my handbag have warded off hunger pains in the face of dire food options on many travel occasions.

Tamworth Tarmac

Tamworth Tarmac

The economy class food served by Qantas has gone through many changes over the years. Depending on where you are flying to domestically and at what time of the day determines the quantity and quality of what you’ll receive on that flight. Tamworth to Sydney is a short flight, so it won’t be a three course meal (entree, main and dessert on one single tray). Today, it’s the Mystery Box. It looks cute, a nice picture of what resembles the Great Barrier Reef which is probably meant to relax you if you are a nervous flyer, like the sort of thing you see in dentist waiting rooms.

Mystery Box Contents

Mystery Box Contents

I’m wary of food in boxes and packets, but what’s this? Carrot and celery pieces? That’s a good start. I give the Carrot Feta and Coriander Dip a try and it’s a bit of a let down, too sweet and not much trace of feta or coriander. That’s fine as am happy with vegetables on their own.  (I just googled the dip to find out some more information and a link to Neil Perry and the Qantas Epicure Event held on Lizard Island came up. This probably explains the picture of the reef on the box). I’m going nowhere near that Toasted Cheese Corn, need I say more?

I look up from the box and see the Air Hostess is making her way down the aisle holding a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in one hand, and Cabernet Sauvignon in the other and offering a glass to any takers. How civilised, I am on my way home from work after all 🙂