Dec 13, 2009

Sounds & Chords = ESL

For a few years now, I've had this magical draw to Sweden & Norway. Not for reasons that maybe most people have. Mine main reason was from meeting some Norwegians in Georgia. They kept visiting California after that...and I couldn't fathom going that far north for the longest time. Then one day I decided to just go there. Play a show in a few towns with local musicians... and learn about the people making this beautiful music that I couldn't get out of my head. The main thing has been noticing the similarities and types of people that I've met. There really is something to be said about finding the 'you' in different cities. Having energy-based connections to people that have not been raised speaking your native tongue. But rather have been raised conditioned on learning English as a tool in hopes that it will be useful to you to benefit from. In Sweden, English is their official second language. ESL. Obviously it has been helpful to me- but I've also met many a Swede that doesn't speak English very well (as well as other foreigners).... It's those people that I've connected to the most, which is strange- but looking at it in this way- makes sense. The people have mostly all been musicians. Being a musician as well, I think we all belong in this 'club'- where we've chosen to slightly live in this other plane. The place where sounds are words. Where emotions are chords. The chords and sounds have been the conversation. I am a magnet to the ESL folks. I have figured out the way to speak that doesn't involve all of the slang. It's difficult, Californians are sooooo into slang I've realized. I'm back in California. After 4 years of moving around every 2 months and collectively spending 8 months in Scandinavia, I am yearning for all of my friends over there to come and experience California. Slowly, people are making their way over here. So happy that by being a musician, this also allows you to travel so much. Thankfully, my friends are able to tour and this brings all of us together in strange cities and odd times. I had a discussion yesterday with a friend from Bergen, and he was saying that he felt that there was something missing in his life. I have also had this feeling for months now. We both agreed it was the feeling of missing a community- a 'village.' Like college, where you are surrounded with people chasing the same tiger. The self-education tiger. Together, we will be the ones. We also discussed this idea that it seems the more we travel, the more we see how much we're missing out on. It brings loneliness. On the opposite side of loneliness, the traveling, the touring, the exploring, brings together so many like-minded people that it's difficult to come down from that. People, perhaps, are not meant to see this much. So let's continue to build a village. Remember to stay in touch. Thankfully, I just got an email this second from Jenny Wilson in Sweden saying that she will come to California for the first time in March. Look for a Rubies/Jenny Wilson show that will bring people together by sounds and song. I hope we sound like a village. I'm on the 'staying still' plan. Come to California.
I'm posting this picture again. A picture I took in Bergen in 2007 after recording some songs and riding a bike along the water.

Jenny Wilson. Coming to California!

Dec 9, 2009

Cheese, Please.

So there is this phenomenal food store up the street here in Oakland called 'Market Hall.' I go in there every day. Incredible selection of cheeses! I recently went in there to buy a bunch of cheese for a cheese course that I was in charge of at a big dinner last Friday. I really wanted to focus on mountain cheeses- similar to the cheeses I grew up eating from Switzerland. Sharp, smooth, crystally, sweet, and so good that you cry one single tear. Here are a few of the cheeses I picked out with some description. The only mountain cheese that isn't pictured here that really needs mentioning is an American cheese- 'Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve'- it's from Wisconsin and might be one of the top 3 cheeses from America in my opinion and you can buy it online! The 2 families that make this cheese uses centuries-old techniques that originated from the alpine region in France. You can taste the fresh grasses, herbs, clovers and wildflowers that the cows graze. The cheese counter at Market Hall might have one of the biggest selection of cheese in all of California. On a fateful evening last week, I had some peeps, Terri, Jamie, and Lauren over at 3am to try the cheese and last weekend I was at a karaoke bar and served cheese from the trunk of my car to a girl from Grindelwald (in Santa Barbara!). I felt like a pusher. Ps. My dad made cheese in his little town of Grindelwald. P.P.S. My twin sisters husband Adrian was a cheesemonger there at Market Hall. I guess we got a thing about it. Tell me about your favorite cheese. Cheese, please.
Everyone loves this one! It won. It has Fenugreek in it. Fenugreek is a herb and seed that has a maple-like smell and taste. Nutty, fresh, no lingering aftertaste. A super gouda.

A cheddar from the UK. Super aged, tangy, sweet. Such a different flavor profile compared the the sharp mountain cheeses from Germany and Switzerland.

Wowzers. Imagine your favorite Gruyere- now times it by a million.
Super aged German mountain cheese. Aged cow's milk cheese. This cheese was introduced the the San Francisco area a couple years ago by a German woman whose Grandfather was a master cheesemaker in the Allgäuer alps where this cheese is from. It's very similar to some cheeses from Grindelwald. There is a timeless practice where cowherders lead their herds up the mountains in spring to graze on the new grass, then bring them back down in the fall to the barns for the winter. Around September 18 marks the official start of "Almabtrieb" (descent), where the farmers decorate their cows with flowers and the prize cow with really elaborate bouquets. It's a rad thing to check out if you are in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Hirtenkäse literally meand 'herdsman cheese.' Superyum.
Another cheese from the Allgäuer region. A washed rind artisan cheese. Semi-soft- super creamy, buttery, and somehow still bright and fresh. Earthy flavor and begs to be melted. I had a BLT toasted sandwich on a great loaf of crusty bread with this melted on it. Really good raw or melted.

Dec 7, 2009

Circles Are Everywhere

Have you ever deliberately noticed EVERYTHING? I've noticed circles everywhere. Tennis, food, nature, toys, eyes, shapes, emotions....circular living, people. A friend of a friend has turrets. It's no laughing matter- HOWEVER - the funny part is that his 'trigger' word is 'balls.' Balls, Balls, Balls.

Nov 23, 2009

The Dog of the Sea (El Perro Del Mar)

A star is born. These shoes tell a story somehow. They belong to Andreas, Simone, Sarah, and Vanessa. What an incredible performance by Sarah Assbring and the dudes (El Perro Del Mar).I felt so good watching them. The sound and lights were perfect. Some of their recent songs have been a soundtrack to my life. 'Change of Heart' for one and 'Inner Island' (from her last record). I had seen her perform a couple years ago at Södra Teatern in Stockholm with Taken by Trees. It was soooo different and I only caught 2 songs. These new songs and vibe are so incredible. I have been in a little song writing slump and these shows got me feeling inspired again. The production is chorusey and flangey in the best way. Live, however, the songs have outdone themselves. Watching them, I felt that the songs we re-writing themselves as they moved through each track. Plus, Andreas's father made his guitar! My favorite guitar player in action. Hung around a music-cast online thingy and might have been my favorite moment. In an awkward studio at 1 in the afternoon with green screens. That second show, Rubies and Bart Davenport got to sing with 'Peter, Bjorn, and John' on a song called 'Stay That Way.'Peter made a solo record with Joachim Ekermann, who also recorded 'Explode from the Center'- and shares love with the wonderful Jenny Wilson, whose album came out earlier this year 'Hardships!' where I sing on 2 songs. She just played in NYC recently. Her first time to the states! I want her to tour here. Piecing together the puzzle here, people.

My current roommate Vanessa with one of my main swedes Andreas Söderström...

Christmas list: I want these

Nov 17, 2009

People need colors & light

This posting is inspired by you Erlend. You sent me this monochromatic 'mayor of browntown' pic....(although the original mayor was Nat Russell, you can have the Norway title)...Listen to Erlend and Eirik's new album "Declaration of Dependence" (Kings of Convenience)- front cover of the album shot by my sis Danielle Rubi down in Mexico where they worked on the songs for the album. I'm in Santa Barbara today. Been down in the Laurel Canyon for a few days and digging it there. Making new plans. A new life. New ideas. New collabs. Blank slate. Learning about art vs ego. I want to hole up and work this winter. I'm not allowed to travel for 6 months. I'm not allowed to have crushes. I'm going to stay still. Tough times ahead. Portfolio, learning after effects, and new songs are calling me. Stay close though. I can't imagine you disappearing.

Nov 5, 2009

Plants can hurt & Japanese gentleness also a rad logo

My friend Mary just sent me this photo of how I looked in August after helping Terri with her yard- by tearing out a huge plant that gave me this:and made me feel like this.
I got on a plane in LA and arrived into NYC and the heat made the poison come and give me a punch in the body. But later that first day I saw this and I laughed:
I also finished a track yesterday collaborating with Japanese musician Miyauchi Yuri. I found these photos of us from the Rubies tour in Japan a couple years ago and thought it to be quite relevant. He's in Tokyo and I'm in Oakland.
Also from the archives. This is from a letterhead that my dad had. A letter from 1981 from one of the best restaurants in the world in Geneva, Switzerland. From the chef Fredy Giradet. I get my mind so blown by the logo and font. Blind deboss. De Boss. The Boss.

Oct 28, 2009

Here and Now/And Nowhere & The Auerglass

If you haven't been at Deitch Projects in NYC, now is the time! I went to see my new pal Tauba Auerbach perform with Cameron Mesirow (check out her music 'Glasser') on the wooden organ Tauba designed. They do this every day at 5 Tuesday through Saturday. We played a gig in NYC recently and we all ran over to Deitch to catch the performance. It was a mind blower! Just watching how this thing works and to have 2 spirit girls playing these guided melodies like a ping pong game. Watching them back and forth- and their bodies helping the organ find it's breath. You can really hear the air being breathed into the organ to create these beautiful tones. Check out Tauba's work, there is so much to feel from. I am a big fan of her alternative typography and word plays. Later, they came and danced at the Rubies gig and it felt like tying the life knot.

Oct 23, 2009

I have finally met Geoff McFetridge. It involved a secret light orb.

So thanks to a top secret glowing object that Adrian made and working with Erlend and the Whitest Boy Alive - I have finally met Geoff McFetridge. I feel that my work and lifestyle has had me running around in circles and in one of those circles has been the amazing talent of this dude sitting there, shining, and inspiring. People said it was a matter of time. Thyme. There was talk of a vortex. A dark vortex and the circle of radness. Meeting of the minds. I had met Yongki up at the Solitary Arts (the company of the skateboard kind that Geoff and Yongki run) headquarters (see their blog post on Rubies) with Nat and Dan recently and achieved instant bro-dom. Yongki is Captain Good Vibes. I gave him a Rubies cd and tripped out on his radical jukebox while being surrounded with some Geoff creatures in 2 D. Cut to 2 nights ago. Yongki, Geoff, D, Adrian, and I. Glowing see-thru-ness, Tacos, stories about Calgary, Nanaimo bars, Skiing, and the best way of getting to know someone. At a dinner table. I wanna go skiing with Geoff while eating a Nanaimo bar. I'm picturing the tracks made by our skiis would end up being mind blowing geometric designs. Mainly because it will be Swiss snow. Helvetica anyone? Tell me this is possible.This is the light orb that lives in the mirror. Only can survive in a room with silver & zodiac wallpaper. 2 people can collectively conjure this dude.

Oct 14, 2009

Rösti, Spätzle, Chanterelle, Shitake, Salty Yoghurt & Other Snax: An Ongoing Saga

First off. This might be my longest entry to date. Hang in there....So in order to stay fluent in the culinary esoteric-cult-obsession, I present you a recent account of some foods that I've either delighted in or prepared. Showing the pictures in reverse order. Santa Barbara (my sister and I cooked for my mother for her recent birthday), Montreal - Poutine at 'Banquis' with Adam Gollner (whose upcoming article will be featured in the final issue of Gourmet magazine next week- on a rad restaurant in Montreal called 'Joe Beef' and a long train ride into the woods with the Owners), Toronto (a Persian breakfast with buddies), Grindelwald, Switzerland (Swiss chocolate, wienerli, pumkin soup, and other yum things in my other hometown) , Paris (a moroccon inspired stew with poached eggs, yoghurt, chanterelles, etc), Berlin (Heiko makes Spätzle and my new favorite falafel and salted yoghurt drink). Ready? Get hungry.
We made flammkuchen, a pizza like tarte originating from the Alsace region. A tarte/pizza-like crust (super thin) with crème fraîche, smoked bacon or pancetta, onions cooked in apple cider (not vinegar), chives. No cheese. Soooooo good. Also, a salad with bulgarian feta (i like it best), roasted shitake mushrooms, pickled golden beets, sungold tomatoes, apples, honey vinaigrette, and butter lettuce). Lambic (rasberry beer from Belgium) and Adrian rocked some homemade bread. D made a genoise layered cake with strawberries, lemon, and cream. Happy land.

Poutine! Montreal! Fresh cheese curds and gravy on fries. After our show at Le Gymnase for Pop Montreal. I think this gets them through their extreme winters. This would definitely qualify as an extreme food. Along with the quesadilla suiza from el farolito in san francisco.
Persian breakfast inpsired by a conversation Daniela and I were having. Cinnamon tomatoes, poached eggs, toasted israeli couscous cooked in coconut milk with saffron, herbs, and nuts, pomegranate seeds, persian cucumbers.
Turkish coffee! We read our horoscope through the coffee grain lines. Coffee tarot. dig. In mine, there was a mountain with wings. The meaning flourished.
Slabs of the best chocolate I've tasted. Honeycomb, cornflake, pink peppercorn, mountain berry, dark with chili, candied almond and hazlenut. Bleeding heart over here.
The coconut was way better than I imagined.

Alpkase means 'alp cheese' and 'zu verkaufen' means 'to sell'. These signs are outside most of the houses in the alps in this village of Grindelwald. Grindelwald means 'stone forest'- the most famous of the swiss alps are here. Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau. The 3 mountains sit quietly by each other. The cheese from these hills are so complex. It tastes of all of the wildflowers, the air, and the dirt. The Swiss do it better. P.s. after mucho cheese research- the 'pleasant ridge reserve' cheese from Wisconsin would be the American counterpart. It's the only cheese that comes close.
My sis and Adrian. After a bunch of Feldschlossen bier.
Everyone has leeks in their garden. Oh and chard. In Switzerland they don't say 'swiss chard'. Ha.
Little chanterelles and candy caps in cream on toast. Chanterelle in German= Pfifferlinge. French = Girolle. Swedish = Kanterell. Italian = Gallinaccio.
Pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed oil. Wienerli- my favorite of the sausages. They snap! All the tables have mustard in tubes called 'Thomy'.

The menu underneath explains this guy. Spätzle is really common. Small egg dumplings boiled then sauteed. Traditionally in the fall you get red cabbage with roasted chestnuts, a half of a pear that has been roasted and filled with currant or berry jam, with venison or chamois(a goat-antelope that lives in the alps) with mountain mushrooms like chanterelles. Cozy food. Delicious. Mainly because I grew up on food like this. Lots of heavy food in the alps!
Rösti was my favorite food growing up. It's basically hash brown potatoes (grated potatoes) covered with gruyere cheese and herbs. Lots of people add things like a fried egg, smoked or air dried meats, pickles and pickled onions... Such a good meal when you're hiking. All the mountain hut restaurants in Switzerland serve this.
More spätzle. More chanterelles mixed with other small mountain mushrooms. Candy caps? Venison. Puff pastry. I'll have know that I did see some small boletus mushrooms in the mountains... Last year in Grindelwald our family friend Salvi prepared them with homemade papardelle. Radness.
My brother Peter and sis Danielle. Doing 'chaos'. A thing we invented when we were li'l. A way to show excitement with a big group of people. Throw your hands together and shake your fingers super fast and intertwine them. Later when we were in college we started coming up with variations. The 'slow down' was a good one. Ask me to show you.The more people the better. Energy!
The sparkling apple juice rules. Super tart and not sweet. Maggi and aromat on all tables.

Custard filled! Fluffy vanilla-y dough. Um.

The morrocan inspired stew with goat cheese, harissa, merguez sausages, and poached eggs. Herbed couscous.
My new favorite yoghurt in Paris with apricot jam. Doesn't get better. Comes in these beautiful blue pots. Use them for holding toothbrushes or something.
The desert to a dinner I made for friends in Paris. Super sweet figs, rasberries and vanilla ice cream.
Pickled fennel with dill and apple cider vinegar, radishes, butter lettuce.
Couldn't help myself from cooking with chanterelles! They are $30 a pound here in California. I got a whole bag for 3 euro. Real saffron for the yellow color in the risotto. We had rotisserie chicken too. The french know how to roast a chicken.
Later we danced to 'kokomo' and played a lot of air instruments.

This is how herbs come when you buy them in Paris. Happy thymes.

The macaroon. Meringue on the outside, buttercream on the in. side. go.od.
Currants, pears, almond cake.
At Chez Jeanette. One of my favorite bars on the planet. This was for our new buddy Hans' bday.
Falafel in Paris. I love how they layer things. Roasted sweet eggplant. Vinegary red cabbage. Harissa (super spicey!), and real good falafel.

Egg alcohol at the Berlin airport. Whoa.
Salty caramel crepe in Berlin- inspired by the Brittany style crepes from France. They do it right. How has salt stolen the show lately? Gotta be careful about blowing our taste buds.
Did I mention salt? This salty yoghurt drink is grubski. My friend Dena from Bulgaria grew up drinking this. Why do I have memory jealousy? I wanna remember drinking this when I was little but alas, I had my 'first' last month here. Firsts are special.
Ok my dudes and dudeskis. My official favorite falafel. From 'king falafel' in Kreuzberg, Berlin.
It had this ground nut & seed spread that took it to a whole new level. Simple though. The falafel was super fluffy and freshly made. The pita was different. It was a very thin bread. Tons of mellow vibey flavor. The older couple that ran the place were grumpy- but somehow it made my food taste better? We can talk about that later. The point is is that I had no expectation. Plus the woman brough us spiced and fragrant tea (clove? cinnamon? nutmeg? black pepper? vanilla?)- near the end of the falafel. A total mind melter.
Dena and I at king falafel. She gets to go here whenever she wants. Man oh man.
The pomegranate nut spread. That sounds funny when I read it. This is what MADE the falafel. Plus I've never tasted anything like it. That and the salty yoghurt 'ayran'. 2 firsts. 2 firsts make a right.
Berlin buddies! The next day I had all kinds of regional schnapps with Thordis at one of my favorite restaurants, 'Lebensmittel in Mitte.' Mirabelle and plum schnapps. It heats your whole body.
Homemade spätzle (you have to put the dough on a wooden board or paddle and scrape it into boiling water- Heiko brought his grandmothers paddle!), more chanterelles, goulash, and my cali inspired salad with grapefruit, more pickled fennel and dill, salted radishes, crème fraîche dressing with lots of chives, butter lettuce. PHEW. This entry took me a super long time. It might be my longest. If you've made it this far, email me. I'll make you dinner if you tell me a good story.