Drinking Tunes: Fall Beer + Music

(Michigan State University’s campus in fall 2005)

Fall is easily my favorite season; likely because I grew up somewhere that actually has a fall (Michigan). New York typically has autumn weather, which we’re finally sort of starting to feel, but it’s definitely not the same as being somewhere with trees that change colors and leave you with a yard full of leaves to rake up and jump in. And going apple picking here is certainly not as easy as it was when I was growing up (my senior year of high school, some friends and I ditched homecoming and instead piled seven of us in my old grandpa car and went to the apple orchard). And I hope you’re prepared for lots of pumpkin, apples and soup on here in the next couple months.

I wrote a few words about five songs, new and old, that are perfect for autumn and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music and the mood, and explained why they work together. Cheers! (Also check out our spring and summer editions.)

Read More »


Food From The Road: Davey’s Biscuits and Gravy (Frontier Ruckus)

(Dave Jones of Frontier Ruckus)


Classic biscuits and gravy (recipe at bottom of post)

I don’t think I can say anything about Frontier Ruckus that I haven’t said before in other places, but in case you’re not familiar, they’re a Michigan band that writes lyrical folk rock songs about the suburbs, with guitar, banjo, drums, singing saw, melodica … It’s creative Americana music that hits so close to home and will always remind me of college (most of them went to my alma mater). They’re also just really great guys, and Dave Jones, who plays banjo in Frontier Ruckus, was generous enough to share his infamous biscuits & gravy recipe (more on that below). The song above is from Deadmalls & Nightfalls, the incredible record they released last year on the amazing Ramseur Records (home to the likes of Samantha Crain and Langhorne Slim; formerly home to the Avett Brothers).

I should note that I didn’t actually make this recipe because I don’t eat meat (if you couldn’t figure it out from the other recipes from the last two months), but it looks really easy!

Frontier Ruckus’s MySpace


A WARNING: Biscuits and gravy is neither healthy nor is it a delicate combination of eclectic flavors. It gets its flavor from the not-so-subtle blend of salt, pepper, pork sausage and rendered fat (from the sausage). The dish arose in the American South as a means to maximize the amount of sustenance that can be gleaned from meat and some type of bread. As a result of this philosophy, B&G is incredibly filling and quite cheap to make — it is perfect if you’re feeding a troupe of touring musicians and their kind, gracious hosts. This is why I’ve made it dozens of times on tour; from California to London (where I was forced to improvise and use croissants instead of biscuits). It always seems to please, and introducing the recipe to people can almost become a cultural experience, especially in a foreign country.

I rarely have the time to make biscuits from scratch — it’s a process that can be very involved and has quite a few idiosyncrasies I haven’t yet learned. For the purposes of this recipe, you can use store-bought biscuits if you’d like. They’re usually tasty enough, albeit lacking a certain authenticity. I apologize to any foodies reading this! — Dave Jones, Frontier Ruckus

Read More »

Hippie hash and an ode to a summer in East Lansing, Michigan

Hippie hash — my take on the signature dish at Lansing, Michigan’s Fleetwood Diner

When I think of Fleetwood Diner, I think of summer 2009, my last three months before I moved to Brooklyn, during which I had two classes to finish, but few other responsibilities aside from a couple shifts a week at the newspaper, some freelance work, and planning my big move. That summer consisted of plenty of group trips to breakfast after late nights out at house parties or at our favorite bars — most of which ended in friends sleeping on my couch or floor, occasionally with Taco Bell wrappers on the floor next to them. By the time we’d meet up at Fleetwood in the morning, some of us were usually hungover, and all of us were always hungry.

Aside from post-party breakfasts, the whole summer was filled with great food. My friends and I started a restaurant club — a last chance at places we needed to try before leaving East Lansing (more great breakfast at Golden Harvest, Ethiopian at Altu’s, Mexican at Mango’s); we squeezed as many as six of us into my Oldsmobile grandpa car and drove 20 minutes to the most amazing produce market/grocery store, Horrocks; we took over the huge kitchen at my co-op house to cook big meals and have potlucks.

That summer, as well as the two years I lived in that house (with 13 other students) played a huge part in my love of cooking. There were so many times when at least five of us would be in the kitchen making dinner at the same time — we’d share cooking tips, try each other’s food, and eat together. In New York, the nights I’m usually happiest are when my closest friends in the city come over for what we call our “family dinners.” We pick a theme (sushi, dumplings, holiday cookies, soup), pitch in ingredients, maybe drink a little wine, and make a meal together. It’s the best.

I should also note that I made this for brunch with my friend Missy, one of my best friends and creative partners in crime, who made the move to New York just a few months after I did. (She definitely was not the one sleeping on my floor next to the Taco Bell wrappers. And that definitely did not happen two nights in a row.)

Anyway, this playlist is a bunch of songs my friends and I spent a lot of time with that summer — there’s nothing groundbreaking here, and any music nerds listening will not be impressed, but that’s not the point. Summer ’09 = great food + these songs. You can even listen as you make this dish. Enjoy!



Read More »