lubricious tableaus.

TripAdvisor I missed you so. I can't NOT look at the reviews for the worst hotels in small USA tourist towns. The owners of these places must have just gone glazed-eye with instant black despondency when they first saw TripAdvisor and realized omg people will now know not to stay here before they actually stay here.

Here are some excerpted reviews of the Indian Hills Inn in Taos, NM. Please take a moment to look at the Traveler Photos for this establishment to get a feel for the accuracy of the reporting, and then if you have extra time that needs vaporizing, stop to admire the determination of the poor manager who is somehow still finding the will to live after calmly, rationally responding to complaint after complaint about how absolutely dire things are there.

"we lasted an hour. Toilet backed up, tv didnt work, wi fi virtually non existant."

"within the first 12 hours our water was shut off due to a pump or something breaking. Gentleman at the front desk could not answer when I would have hot water....Then a terrible odor started coming in (window & door closed) and was told a sewer line broke. Room was shabby and barely clean, stains on the walls and i believe blood stains on the ceiling."

"I can put up with carpets from the Nixon administration, Cathode ray tube TVs. I did expect wifi to work, even if it's slow. It just cuts in and out and is useless. But the main issue this time is the questionable clientele. It used to be full of visitors going to ski slopes. Now it looks like people are living there. I can't put up with people yelling and slamming doors at midnight, and cops showing up looking for suspects."

"I have never been in a filthier, scarier hotel. Full disclosure, this place was so gross, we left assuming that we would still have to pay the full price. The lobby was in dire need of repair, smelled like smoke from the staff. When we were checking in, the (really) nice girl up front explained their washing machine broke and housekeeping was at the laundry mat next door with the linens. Everything screamed run at this point but we wanted to give this place the benefit of the doubt. 
As we walked up to our room, it appeared that the ceilings on both balconies were falling apart, didn't even look structurally sound. There were also several seedy characters that appeared to be living at the hotel. The carpet was literally falling apart from the door. Once inside, we could see that the door had a long crack through which daylight could be seen. Duct tape was used to fix cables to the carpet. Black mold decorated the bathroom and it appeared as if cat liter had been used at one point in the bathroom for god knows what. Due to physical and health safety concerns, we decided to check out 5 minutes after checking in. On a positive note, management did agree to work with the booking agent to give us a refund, which we were not expecting."

"My husband and I stayed here one night and will never stay here again! I have never posted a bad review before but feel I should say something. There are people renting weekly/monthly here and there was a lot of trash around in the parking area and even on the stairway leading up to our room. There was a party going on directly below us and they kept us awake until 4am. At one point we even went out to sleep in our vehicle."

Respect, Indian Hills Inn, for keeping it real. And then in addition to fact-based reporting, some people are just going for it, writing wise. From a review of the Adobe Wall Motel in Taos:

"Several other reviewers have commented on the curtness of the Adobe Wall Inn's proprietor, Donna. I condemn this: what sort of bitter nebbish would let something so inconsequential ruin her trip when there's a fireplace waiting in her room, and Duraflames to burn in it? What slumpshoulder lump of oatmeal could let Donna get her down when Taos is warm and sunny outside, and the Plaza, heaving with art to ridicule and people to gawk and lumpen stuffed bears to pretend are alive and ravenous for chocolate, just a five-minute walk away? What unfortunate gunch would even remember who Donna WAS when she's in her room at the Adobe Wall, sprawled on the bed, transfixed by the lubricious tableau of her man in the Duraflame glow, wearing them jeans, his broad wrists and hands and teeth and oh god lips all over a Salted Nut Roll, beneath the wonky silhouette of Taos Pueblo painted on the wall in a lurid orange? Certainly not me!"


cookie of the year.

Courtesy Klary Koopmans. They're from a Sicilian bakery, in Sicily, they're called paste di pistacchio, and they're like pistachio-flavored ricciarellli.



As you know, we're not normally one to cast aspersions (nor are we apparently one to fully comprehend how many people we are exactly or at the very least how pronoun-verb agreement works), but yeah we have to say that Inspiralized reads, well, like someone found a gimmick that they're trying really really hard to turn into a blogging/cookbook career at any cost.

Ooo, rrraouw, catty much, duck? Don't get me wrong, I understaaaaand. Most people need careers. It's just not very relaxed or natural-seeming as a blog. And so far it's (rrrraouw!) way better for inspiration than for actual recipes...well, OK, this beet/pear/goat cheese/pistachio/bacon idea above was almost really good with a few tweaks and way easier than it looks.

But even better were a couple of carrot inspirations: a carrot alfredo using a VDuck alfredo sauce was totally great (spiralizer set on biggest setting, cook noodles for 4-6 minutes in the sauce). And I've made carrot pappardelle a couple of times now (noodles made with a kaasschaaf, cooked for 10-15 minutes in the red sauce, served with lots of parmigiano), both totally valid pasta substitutes.

The next experiments will probably be sweet potato based: the ingredient list for BBQ Sweet Potato Noodle Buns With Smoked Mozzarella sounds great but the whole thing desperately needs a different assembly than the one pictured. Rrraouw.


opera, poffertjes, fear.

Stadsschouwburg/De Souffleur. Sad poffertjes man. Preparing for liftoff. White-knuckled fear. Confidence deflation.


Been doing a lot of cooking out of a couple of cookbooks the past couple of months. Ottolenghi's Plenty More (above, Spice-Stuffed Potatoes, filled with mint and tamarind, great), and David Bailey's Fresh Vegan Kitchen. Oh also some experiments from the Inspiralized website that I'll talk about in another post maybe.


Plenty More seems to be having a pretty high success rate, I don't know how much of that can be attributed to knowing what kinds of things to aim for and what things to avoid after cooking through most of Plenty. "No patties under any circumstances, no matter how good they sound" is a good rule for example.

And since it was a Christmas gift, we've really only cooked wintry shit. Root mash with wine-braised shallots was really good on a cold late-winter night; stuffed peppers with fondant swede and gruyère was an unusual concept, if better cold from the fridge the next day; winter saffron gratin was slightly too much trouble, but maybe that's just the fussiness of Jerusalem artichokes...this beetroot and celeriac gratin was easier and better if you take all of the ridiculous Epicurious-comments-section-esque VDuck shortcuts as outlined below.


beetroot and celeriac gratin.

500ml double cream
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
20g thyme sprigs, leaves picked but also keep the stems
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
Shaved skin of 1 large lemon
8 whole cloves
Salt and white pepper
4-5 medium beetroots (700g), boiled, peeled and sliced 2mm thick
1 large 900g celeriac, peeled and sliced widthways 2mm thick
100g hard mozzarella, grated
150g extra mature cheddar, grated

OK so: the Plus doesn't have cheddar (I don't blame them, almost no one does), so I used two packets of pre-shredded Old Amsterdam (aged Gouda) instead, and two balls of 49 cent mozzarella instead of "hard mozzarella" whatever that is. I think this means I ended up using roughly 150g of each cheese, but it could've been slightly more. And it means that around the two-hour mark I had a bit too much liquid in the pan (fresh mozzarella does this), but due to the eventual total cooking time it worked out OK.

And of course the Plus didn't have raw beets, nor did they have their normal vacuum-packed pre-roasted beets, so I bought a big jar of pre-sliced and marinated beets instead and just rinsed it really well. And I couldn't imagine putting a half liter of double cream in a recipe, so I used half soya cream, and didn't notice it at all, which makes me think you could maybe use all soya cream.

And yeah, there's a step where you steep the first six ingredients together for a while and then drain the cream and throw the solids away. I didn't drain the cream after I boiled it with the lemon and garlic and all that shit in it, I just threw all of it in the baking dish when I layered the beet and celeriac layers.

And then I baked the whole thing for 3 fucking hours or whatever because Nelsker's oven has mysterious buttons that never seem to do the same thing twice. Seriously, we've successfully turned on the broiler about three times in 18 months I think. There are only three unlabeled, textless buttons that can either be pressed or unpressed, some combination of them turns on the broiler, but.....yes, file under "Unsolved" for now.




Since my music blog is closed until further notice, I'm putting this here.

I need to buy an amp. Why is every other piece of gear more exciting than buying an amp? Buying new strings is more exciting than buying a new amp. I have at least 9 guitars at the moment, possibly more that I'm forgetting about. Why? Because they're fun to buy, and by the time you're my age you've been buying them for 30 years or so, so they add up. But how many guitars do I actually need? Not 9. In fact I'm pretty sure my guitar needs are covered at the moment. All I'm really doing is playing lapsteel anyway.

My point is, despite what my clicking habits suggest, I don't need any more guitars, pedals, or any other accessory except a fucking amplifier, one that 1) I like the sound of and 2) I can kind of carry without a car. When I'm not gigging, which is currently the case, it's easy to forget how much I dislike my current amp, the Fender Blues Junior. So here's me trying to be proactive and narrow down my field of things to look at so I can sort this out before my next gig in July.

1)  Supro Titan. Cute and sassy. And really unfortunately, what the fuck, €1,700? It's tiny. Actually, looking again, I probably want the Supro Tremo-Verb, it's 20 lbs. lighter and 400 euro cheaper.

OK, well, still. Expensive. A good bit cheaper in America, but yes, different power supply no workie. Plan B?

SOME TIME LATER: Yeah....this is the problem with starting out at the top, everything else looks shitty. I'm not buying another new Fender. I've never really played through a Vox that I loved. ENGL has now moved on to focus on metal. And everything else under €1,000 just looks like utter crap.

ONE DAY LATER: J-Kim said I should really check out the Vox AC-10 before I spent a lot of money on something else. And since it's half the price of the Supro.....I will.



ancient chinese secret.

Eh, just for safekeeping, this is The Way To Eat Broccoli. I'll type it out eventually.



here comes the summer.

I went camping on an island.


mata hari.

Ravioli filled with cauliflower, orange zest and ricotta with marjoram butter, poppy seeds and pecorino.

Home-smoked buffalo mozzarella with watercress, radish, purple carrots, kohlrabi, hazelnuts and a marmalade-shallot vinaigrette.

Not pictured: tarte of passionfruit curd with crispy coconut and basil cinnamon syrup.




Things really were this color, it was a light and stormy night. Everyone was at their windows taking pictures with phones, tablets, actual cameras. Then things turned purple and rainbowy.