Filed under: WHEAT
This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. I’m afraid it’s not a food review, but I am sat in a little café north of the border that does amazing Orange Polenta cake.
It is with very sad regret that I have to announce that I, Ollie Campesinos!, have parted company with Los Campesinos!.
When we first started this band we never expected in a million years that three years down the line we would have done and achieved all the things that we have. It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I want to thank everyone that we have ever worked with. Without your hard work we wouldn’t have done all these things. Thank you to every band I have ever had the privilege of playing with. I have made some really great friends.
But most importantly I want to thank every one of you that has ever taken any time to take interest in us. Whether it’s coming to a gig, buying a record or merely reading my food reviews. If it weren’t for you guys and gals we would have faded out a long time ago.
It’s been a true honour and a privilege, my life is going to be very different.
Filed under: CHAFF
3rd – 4th May, Seattle, Washington
Seattle is our home in the USA; we’ve spent so much time here that we know the city pretty well. Having a day off meant that we could hit up our favourite haunts.
First off for me was a visit to Top Pot doughnuts. When we were recording Romance is Boring we stayed in a hotel right next door to Top Pot. We were therefore in there everyday buying coffee and doughnuts. We grew to know some of the staff in there, and visit the next day (4th may) we bumped into them. I would like to thank Brendan Kennedy and everyone at Top Pot for the free coffee and doughnuts, and for being so nice to us, we hope they enjoyed the show.
Now about their doughnuts. All I can say, is that they are the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. There are so many flavours and types. My favourite is the cinnamon sugar ring. The dough is so light, you feel like you could eat stacks of them. The feather bower cake is also very good. Another favourite amongst LC! is the Apple Fritter, which is so big it can keep someone going all day. The doughnuts are all cooked fresh on the premises and the smell is intoxicating. Coming back late at night from the studio you would be able to smell them cooking and it would make you really excited for the following morning. Plus, their coffee is very good as well, making a perfect combination. If they had a shop in Cardiff, I would grow really fat.
No visit to Seattle is complete without a trip to Bamboo Gardens. We’ve spoken about this place before and it still is very good. We went for the tried and tested. We tried a hotter Mongolian Beef; the sauce wasn’t hotter, it just had hotter chillies in it. I ate one of these and instantly regretted it; it was very hot and destroyed my sense of taste for the rest of the meal. Nonetheless, an excellent meal.
For dinner on show night we went to Guaymas Cantina. A Washington based Mexican chain. I had a wet steak burrito. Once again, it was no different from any other burrito I had had. No one tries to do anything different, but to be honest I quite like that. It’s cheap and very filling, and always very tasty. You can’t really complain.
5th May, Portland, Oregon
First stop was Stumptown Coffee. Unlike when we stayed in the Ace Hotel, which had a Stumptown in the lobby, to reach the nearest one this time required a 10 minute walk. Top coffee and pastries.
Dinner tonight was at a place called Chop Sticks. It served Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese dishes. I had a Pad Thai, and it was probably one of the best Pad Thais I’d had. The noodles were nice and thin, and still had a bit of bite to them. The chicken was good breast meat, with a lot of flavour. There was plenty of crushed peanuts in it, meaning that your mouth didn’t feel like it just had a mouthful of goo when you ate it. It could have been slightly spicier, but the level was enough that it tickled my senses ever so slightly.
Tonights meal was provided by the venue. It comprised Tofu with vegetables, a marinara sauce, green beans and salad.
I’m not a big fan of Tofu, I would never order it out of choice. I always find it bland and it doesn’t have any texture. You might as well be eating polyfilla. This had been griddled so it had a good colour to it. Whats more, it had some texture to it! You could actually feel your teeth slice through it as you chewed. The vegetables had also been cooked in the same way and then layered on the top making it look very presentable and giving it a lot more colour. Having a forkful of tofu and vegetables meant that you had a constant change of texture as you chewed. A nice experience. The marinara sauce was good, I’m never entirely sure what is supposed to be in a marinara sauce, is it just a thick sauce of tomatoes? Or is it supposed to have herbs in it? Of which, I couldn’t taste any. The meal made up for the disappointment as we watched the election results come in.
7th May, San Francisco, California
Tonights dinner choice was suggested by the Regency Ballroom stage manager. He said he would go there 7 out of 10 days. He pointed us to a restaurant called Modern Thai. The menu had all your bulk standard Thai dishes, and there were a few that had twists to them, but nothing really different.
I went for a Green Curry, as after Chopsticks in Portland, I was wanting a Green Curry. The chicken in it was slightly dry and had a bit of flavour. It’s a shame that restaurants can never really cook like you can at home. A home cooked curry will have had the chicken cooking in the sauce allowing the flavours to infuse the chicken. In a restaurant it’s probably cooked separately so whatever meat has been ordered by the customer can be chucked in at the last moment. It had a lot of vegetables in it including aubergine and peppers. The sauce was light and you could taste the coconut in it, it could have done with being spicier, perhaps I should ask for dishes to be more spicier on ordering. The rice was presented in a nice heart shape.
A good meal but I’m not sure if it can label itself as Modern.
Filed under: CHAFF
Welcome back to another instalment of us eating our way across America.
28th April Covington, Kentucky.
Covington hadn’t provided us with that much during the day. A trip across the Ohio river into Cincinnati led to a market research interview in a bagel shop, which included false names and the impracticality of bottomless coffee mugs.
We did find a sports bar in Covington that included a whole variety of rock inspired Mac n’ Cheeses’ including Nirvana, Cream and Green Day. Now I don’t like Green Day, but I decided to go for their take on Mac n’ Cheese. I’m not sure if Billie Joe had had any input into it, but if he had his ideas were pretty good. The Green Day contained spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, this created a better flavour to the Mac n’ Cheese and also a bit more colour. I find Mac n’ Cheese a bit bland and not the most attractive of meals, but the spinach and the tomato changed this. It was a nice size, the perfect amount of a quick meal before the show.
29th April, Madison, Wisconsin.
The last time we played Madison, whilst we were annoying the students in their beer hall, I decided to ask some of them where was good to eat. We were kindly sent to the Top of the World and had an amazing meal. We decided we would go back there. Top of the World is a Himalayan restaurant serving dishes from Nepal, Tibet and India. I had the Goat Curry last time and it was so good, I had it again. With the meal you were given a dhaal or a salad. I went for dhaal. This one was more of a soup, normally it is a lot thicker, but the spices and the spinach created a lightly balanced soup that was refreshing.
The curry came and the meat just fell off the bone. It was so tender and the spices created an amazing flavour, the spices dancing on my tongue. Despite it being quite dense, it felt really light, and I felt contented at the end. I was left sucking the bones to get all the flavours off. Despite it being one of the more expensive meals of the tour (average plate cost $16), it was definitely worth it.
30th April, Chicago Illinois
No visit to Chicago is complete until you’ve gone to Intelligentsia Coffee; probably my favourite coffee shop in the world. Unlike Gimme Coffee in New York, it doesn’t have the snobbery and the staff were really helpful in suggesting different beans for my espresso. Me and Tom both came away bearing some beans.
Today’s meal was eaten and then I realised I hadn’t taken a picture. Sorry fans, my stomach comes first. I went across the road to Azteca De Oro and got a couple of tacos. First tacos of the tour and they were great. It’s hard to muck up a taco and these were satisfying and full of flavour.
After the show I crossed the street again to a hot dog place called Wrigleyville Dogs. And though it was a great meal at 1am, it wasn’t as good as a Pink’s in L.A. The chilli sauce had made the bun go too soggy and this led to it all spilling out. Nonetheless, after a show and a massive thunder storm it was satisfying.
1st May, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Some of us ended up in a Tequila bar for dinner called Barrio. As well as having a massive selection of tequila, which we failed to try, they served Mexican “tapas”, which was basically small mexican dishes mainly tacos. I had a carnitas taco and a crab taco. Both appeared well presented with a few extra touches such as fresh coriander. The crab taco was very good, when were in Mexico we had tuna sashimi tacos and they were amazing. The crab created a different feel to the taco, the lightness of the crab meat contrasting really well with the lime and the coriander. Despite being in a fancier place these tacos didn’t cost that much more than anywhere else so it was still excellent value, and being served a man called Machete also helped.
2nd May, Billings, Montana.
So how many of you have been to Billings? Well, we’ve been there twice. Both times we’ve been to a restaurant called Walkers, which serves pretty fancy food in a town that doesn’t seem that big. With a vast beer and wine selection, they have a very appealing menu. I had the confit of duck which came with Cannellini Beans, pancetta, fried garlic and asparagus. The duck was so tender and had been cooked really well; the meat falling off the bones. The beans had been cooked in a creamy sauce. The fried garlic was very good, and that with a bit of duck meat and the beans lit up my mouth. The asparagus had been cooked very well, it was still a bit crunchy and the creaminess of the beans really complemented it. It was pretty expensive but well worth the price.
In part 3, we reach the West coast and hit up some of our favourite food establishments.
Filed under: CHAFF
So we have finally reached America and its time to taste its culinary delights.
23rd April. Hoboken, New Jersey.
Maxwell’s does good food. It was great to play a show and then sit down to a meal. I had the chicken and cheese burrito. It was massive and packed with lots of chicken, cheese, beans and rice. It could have done with a bit more spice, and it could have been served wet instead of dry. There was some salsa, which I used to add a bit of extra flavour. It was served with some olives, which was slightly unusual.
24th April. Boston, Massachusetts.
British pub food has such a bad reputation. Many places “serve” food but its basically a microwave, enabling people to soak up the alcohol with terrible burgers and carry on drinking. I had been to the sports bar next door to the Paradise Club and thought it was pretty good. It has an open plan kitchen so you can actually watch the chef preparing your meal. You wouldn’t find this in a Scream brand pub! I opted for the Salmon dinner which I had with a salad and fried Green Beans. The salmon had been grilled and was pretty flavourful. It was served with a sweet chilli dip and it was pretty spicy. The salad was massive and full of a lot of fresh vegetables. I was surprised by the fried green beans. I assumed that they would be just raw green beans fried in some oil. But they were actually deep-fried. They were nice but there was so many of them that the batter soon became over-powering.
Perhaps one day high street pubs will turn their backs on the microwave?
25th April. New York, New York.
So we decided to go for pizza before the show. Asking the crew is always a good idea, so we asked their suggestions for pizza. They directed us to a place just round the corner from the venue.
I had a slice of cheese and a slice that was called a granny slice. The granny slice was a deep pan and the tomato sauce was on top of the cheese. It actually worked; biting through the sweet tomato sauce to hit the salty cheese and then the dough. It was pretty filling and quite enjoyable. The cheese slice was good, it was good New York style pizza, and a lot cheaper than Lombardi’s.
26th April. Washington D.C.
The 9.30 club feed you so well. Pizza, soup and salad on load-in, loads of snacks, dinner and their famous cupcakes.
The pizza was cheap and greasy, but it was good after carrying in heavy gear. They even did a vegan pizza.
For dinner I chose the vegetable chilli with brown rice. When it came there was no rice, but tortilla chips. It was a chilli but it seemed like it was more like nachos especially with the melted cheese and sour cream on top.
Their cupcakes are very good, but very rich. I ate two, and felt very sick afterwards!
Filed under: CHAFF
Due to the power of wireless internet I’m writing this whilst sat in our garden. Wilco is coming out of the kitchen and its warm and sunny. It seems, possibly, that spring is actually here!
So an update. For anyone who has forgotten, I said I would try and liven up our back garden.
Okay, lots of you will say it hasn’t changed much but it has. I wasn’t going to do an Alan Titchmarsh or Monty Don on it! Over the winter we planted Daffodils and Tulips. The Daffodils flowered late compared to the rest of Cardiff but they were beautiful over the Easter weekend. We also have some garlic growing. Thanks to Mama and Papa Campesinos! I was given some herbs in pot for Christmas, they are growing well despite the cold snap last week, and soon the garden will be filled with the hypnotising smells of Mint and Thyme, among others.
Due to us being a house of food lovers, we have a lot of food growing. Radishes and Spinach have been planted, whilst we have lettuce and tomatoes growing on the kitchen windowsill prior to them being put into grow bags outside. Also on the agenda is squash and courgettes.
We’ve found a nice sunny patch in the garden which has been marked for Sunflowers. I haven’t grown sunflowers since I was a kid, and me and my sister always used to have a competition to see whose was the tallest
Wildlife wise, with the introduction of a bird feeder we are seeing some wildlife come into the garden. Theres nothing better than doing the washing up whilst watching the Sparrows nibble on the fat balls. We are getting a few cats in our garden. They have seen the new soil in the beds as ideal toilet spots, and so i’m regularly clearing away cat poo!
Going off to America will mean that the garden will be left to fend for itself for a while. Hopefully on our return everything will be thriving.
Filed under: CHAFF
Welcome to the second instalment of Team LC! eating their way across Mainland Europe.
In Part one we tried Schnitzel, Moroccan Stew and Strudel. What can the Low Countries and Paris offer us?
First port of call in Amsterdam was a cafe (not a coffee shop!) called Pasta Tricolore. After touring America with our coffee guru/ tour manager Joe, I have become more fussy about coffee. This place on the recommendation of Tom did pretty good coffee and the food was great. I have quite a sweet tooth when it comes to desserts and so I went for a piece of Tiramisu. It was rich and creamy, you could taste the Marsala and coffee in the sponge fingers. This was a great way to have a break between setting up and soundcheck.
The last time we played the Melkweg I’m sure we didn’t get catering there. This time we ate in the cafe. I went for the Tilapia, a white meaty fish that is quite popular in North America. It came breaded with a lemon and cream sauce. There wasn’t that much of it but it was quite filling. The breadcrumbs were a bit soggy and the sauce was quite thick, the consistency being as thick as mustard for example. It came with some fried potatoes and some crunch vegetables.
The first time I did the Nijmegen Marches I had chips with Mayonnaise. If you’ve ever had Dutch Mayo its very different from Hellmans. It seems to have a little bit of spice in it that makes it moorish. Every time I come to Holland now I have to get some. After the show I snuck off to Febo’s round the corner and got some. It was everything I could ever want in Chips and Mayo! The salty chips covered in a thick layer of creamy Mayo. If you don’t like Mayo, try the peanut sauce, it has a similar taste to curry.
Paris, the food capital of the world, or so they say. I know French cooking is great but it is a different style to British or say Mexican. Nothing beats a Sunday Roast cooked by your mum.
The meal tonight was in the cafe bar attached to the venue. They had served me a mediocre coffee earlier that day. The food was a vegan curry and then a plate of curried chicken. The chicken was very flavoursome as it was still on the bone. Thighs and legs are under-rated, all those flavours encased in the bone come out during that slow cooking, the meat falling off it faster than melted butter. The curry was good, but the flavouring was very much one of those bulk standard “curry powder” flavours you buy from a supermarket. Some fresh coriander would have been great. They gave us a dessert of what seemed to be a lemon flavoured custard tart; rich but the lemon giving it a refreshing edge.
A kebab shop is not where you go for a meal in Britain. However, this is not the same in Europe. After a 9 hour drive, I found myself in a kebab shop sitting down with a lamb kebab and a stein of beer. This kebab is not what you’ll find in your British take away. The meat was fresh, spicy and had a lot of flavour. It had a nice smokey flavour from being cooked over coals rather than on a griddle. It came with a flat bread and a salad. More importantly, I got to enjoy it on a plate and not out of a polystyrene box.
The following night, the venue got us take away from an Italian. It was the worst pizza I’ve had in a long time. The base was burnt with holes in it. The sausage on the top was so salty that you couldn’t taste anything else. A grease fest!
The Botanique has always done good food, so we were looking forward to ending the tour here. Time meant that we ended up eating afterwards. We had ordered before we had gone on thinking that it would be waiting for us when we came off. Due to this I had opted for the chicken and chips rather than the fish. When we got to the cafe they hadn’t even cooked it, too late to change my order though. When it arrived it was basically just a chicken breast grilled with some chips and salad. The breast was a bit dry and it could have done with some sort of flavourings. But I was hungry. We’ve had better, perhaps it us wanting to eat afterwards that annoyed them?
A few prizes
Best Meal – The kebab in Hamburg
Worst Meal – The pizza in Hamburg
Best Services – Marche – found widely in Germany
Worst Services – Shell Garages in Holland and Belgium
Filed under: CHAFF
So, I’ve become lazy. Its pretty difficult to write a review every day and get it uploaded, on average most food reviewers don’t review a meal each day so I’m covered.
Instead I’ve decided to do a couple of posts covering what I had with a few notes.
So if anyone worked it out, the picture from the vaults of me and Tom was in the Rischart cafe. It was here that we discovered good Apple Strudel. Now, I know this will cause all of Germany and other European countries to argue that they have the best strudel, but compared to what you can get in the UK, its pretty damn good.
This was the first port of call in Munich. Unfortunately due to time constraints I could only get take away, this meant I couldn’t have any vanilla sauce or my strudel hot. Despite this it was still pretty tasty. The pastry flaky and the apples soft with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. I was even kind enough to buy some for the others.
Gareth had discovered a vegan restaurant when we had been in Munich before, but alas when we turned up, it had turned into a different restaurant mainly specialising in steak. Oh the irony! So we went to the Hofbrau beer hall and I had some schnitzel. It was fantastic, the pork being really tender and succulent. If you had something similar in the UK, it would be dry and have no flavour whatsoever, Bernard Matthew take note. The potato salad was strange, it was almost as if they had combined pureed potatoes with boiled potatoes. It almost looked like Apple Sauce!
The venue in Zurich was attached to a restaurant. We were given a room next to the kitchen. I had originally chosen the duck but as there wasn’t enough I went for a Moroccan stew instead. The beef was tender and full of flavour. The spiciness of the sauce was perfectly complemented with a yoghurt dressing. There were nice chunks of aubergine and peppers with it as well.
Had some Strudel, the filling was slightly strange in the fact that it bore more of a resemblance to Bread Pudding than apple. It was still pretty good, the pastry being more like shortcrust than filo.
The catering that night was from a restaurant down the road, it was a giant pasta bake. It was quite hard to distinguish what was in it, we found chicken, bacon, tomato and peppers in it. It was a nice meal but nothing amazing.
The venue that allowed you to create your own meal! They produced a tray of rice, a tray of a vegan curry, a tray of spinach and tofu, and a tray of cooked chicken. Enabling you to create whatever you wanted. Tofu curry? Chicken curry, or even just vegan curry? The curry was a coconut based one with a large variety of vegetables including peppers, courgette and sweet potato. The chicken had been fried, but it still retained some of its juices. I’m not a big fan of tofu and how they had cooked didn’t really do anything for me.
Part Two coming soon.